ApSci have never done anything the easy way.
First off, they could have found collaborators in others who, well, werenâ€™t from halfway around the world.
They also couldâ€™ve simply followed the same path on Best Crisis Ever that they did on their 2005 Quannum debut, Thanks for Asking, a dark, collabo-heavy hip-hop electro album that UR Chicago named â€œthe freshest hip-hop album that’s come out so far [that] year,â€ SPIN.com described as a mixture of â€œEminem and Bjork,â€ and XLR8R called â€œthe real deal.â€
Instead, on Best Crisis Ever, the multi-national duoâ€™s second full-length for Quannum, they change up their formula, filling up the guest spots with their own back-and-forth vocals, transporting their own gear and lives from Brooklyn to Sydney, and moving away from hip-hop towards genre-bending pop music.
Recorded in both New York City and Australia â€“ and spots in between; â€œâ€˜Til the Windows Rattle Off,â€ for example, was recorded and programmed in Malaysia, during some downtime at a festival at which the duo was performing â€“ Best Crisis Ever is an intricately designed, lovingly crafted album, full of unexpected electronic bleeps and blurts nestled alongside Raâ€™s wordplay, Danaâ€™s warm voice, which is in itself a versatile instrument that adds an alluring depth and charm to Raâ€™s complex, detailed production.
The two play off one another: when Ra uses sparser beats, the richness of Danaâ€™s vocals, the way she layers and develops her harmonies, fills in the space between, never overshadowing, always complementing, like on â€œLetâ€™s RIP the Town Up,â€ the hard-edged song that balances quick, machine-gun percussion with truly singable, stick-in-your-head hooks. Similarly, on tracks like â€œUnder Control,â€ â€œBig Adventuresâ€ and album standout â€œCrazy Crazy Insane,â€ Dana and Raâ€™s melodies twist and swirl with chords and the good-natured clamor of the production beneath.
Thereâ€™s a lightness here at times, found from days spent in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps, but this is no beach record. â€œThe Dark and Bittersweet End,â€ and â€œThe Tradeoffâ€ â€“ two of the Brooklyn tracks that made the final cut â€“ have a sinister edge to them, and their cover of REMâ€™s â€œSwan Swan H,â€ a song Ra remembers obsessing over in summer camp, turns the soft, sad original into a haunting trip-hop masterpiece.
Taking a cue from progressive artists like Gnarls Barkley, Santigold, Gwen Stefani, Aesop Rock, Little Jackie, MIA, Janelle Monae, and Kanye West, ApSci blend elements from electronica, pop, hip-hop and R&B into a kind of quirky electro-pop that has appeal to everyone from mainstream radio listeners to underground heads chasing the latest beat. If this is the next generation of pop music, ApSci can only be considered one of its brightest new faces.
Says Raphael about its making, which the duo did themselves:
â€œThe main story on it is that it was shot using an iPhone, a portable printer and a webcam. The printouts are from us performing to webcam on a mac. The webcam video was converted to black & white, and printed out at 5 frames per second (4 up on a page, cut by hand). We then walked around different cities we were touring and shot the photos in sequence. Every frame in the clip is a picture, no video was shot. No special effects in post-production. About 4,000 pictures were edited into the clip (whew). It starts in Brooklyn, goes to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Honolulu and ends in Sydney.â€