Chrome - Feel It Like A Scientist (2014)


One hour of sheer outer-space energy, frenzy, and mass mirage, brought to you by the masters of mania themselves -- Chrome. With "Feel It Like A Scientist" Helios Creed delivers the most thrilling brand of Chrome's music since the passing of Damon Edge. The brand new line-up consists of: Lou Minatti (guitar), Steve Fishman (bass), Anne Dromeda (background vocals), plus two of the previous members; Aleph Omega (drums: "Ghost Machine", "Angel Of The Clouds"), and Tommy Grenas (keyboard: "Retro Transmission", "Tidal Forces (No Humans Allowed Pt II)", "Ghost Machine", "Angel Of The Clouds"). And surprisingly the re-formed ensemble captures the core of Chrome's sound as old-school, genuine, and with all its rawness and experimentality -- it's all there with a touch of fresh ideas, like female background vocals.

The title suggests a realist, or say a naturalist perspective. But "Feel It Like A Scientist" is exactly on the contrary, a record of surreality -- a sonic thin ice on which Darwin is skating. The paradox of the real/unreal with Chrome might as well epitomize a notion recurring in two other cinematic and psychoanalytic parallels: Cronenberg's channeling of reality within the unreal ("The Brood", "Dead Ringers") and Lacan's the Real. In an interview regarding "The Fly", Cronenberg was asked about whether he would direct a love-story without 'the gore', 'the effects', and 'the horrifying aspect', and his answer was: "This is the realistic story I think, to me this is a real love-story... For me this is naturalism." The same thing can be said about Chrome. Chrome created what later came to be known as acid punk and cyber-punk, and the word 'punk' here says exactly why we can't simply call their music surreal -- this is not hippie psychedelic rock, this has to do with the reality within the unreal.

In the title of the record there is a second curiosity -- how is one supposed to be a scientist and feel? Feeling is sensual afterall and opposed to the rational mode of thinking often associated with science. The naive way of answering that would be talking of it as if it was just an odd simile. After all there are academicians who easily come up with the word 'conceit' in case of a similar metaphor. But right there, we're coming at the Lacanian Real -- the impossibility of it to come alive through language being the clincher. Needless to mention, as with the previous times I've made use of Lacan's theories, here too I'm not employing the Real on a psychopathological level, nor am I to coalesce it with the Marxist theory as Žižek does; but I am rather applying it to this particular work of art, so the entire process can be observed as being utilized in the Symbolic Order. Why then is that so we can't have sensation and science at the same time? why does the very concept seem 'paradoxical'? the answer lies in the Imaginary, as well as the Symbolic; the other two Orders of the psyche prior to the Real.

In the realms of these two Orders, which are of course themselves inside the realm of the Real -- their substratum, one is always bound to either make an imaginary choice of one attribute -- take science -- with a total disregard for the other -- take sensation, or, to make the distinction clear with a help from language. Let's put it this way: in the Symbolic, language tells you it's impossible to have both sensation and rationale in one place, as the two words clearly bear animosity toward each other, and in the Imaginary, you make a choice between the two yourself. The realm of the Real is though at odds with the rest: there is exactly where both attributes are present and neither is ignored, and there is the place to 'feel it like a scientist'. Now, I don't want to babble how art is always a means for the impossible, because it certainly isn't at most of the times, but it more or less becomes so with the artist transcending the bullshit -- Buddhist bullshit included -- and it is certainly the case with Chrome.

On "Feel It Like A Scientist", Chrome take the listener on a sonic ride, a ride because there is the least tendency for inertia on this record, 'Slave Planet Institution' and 'Nymph Droid', the closer of the record, being the only exceptions. Of course this is not to be mistaken with the beat, which for instance bands like Wooden Shjips incorporate. The beat here is relentless and it follows the listener throughout every song, this indeed resembles a hunt, or even a haunt; the beat is soulless, proto-industrial, proto/post-punk, and so regardless of how sick and twisted the imagery of the lyrics, vocals, and guitar riffs are, it continues to advertise its dehumanized dance. Also the darkness conceived in this record is an alien darkness, and the pillars supporting this mass structure are the funereal psychedelia of the guitar/synth effects, as well as the flagrant de-morphing of the vocals. This is the record to once more remind Killing Joke fans who the forerunners of fear in punk are, and this is the record to bowl over a couple of contemporary indie/space rock listeners.