Science Man


Science Man Mince’s Cane LP

It’s a rare feat when an album can transport the listener to a place beyond the confines of quotidian cognition. Enter SCIENCE MAN. The brainchild of John Toohill, SCIENCE MAN embodies more than a band or project in that it is an amorphous entity that continually expands, contracts, and creates. Mince’s Cane is an ambitious undertaking that has spawned the seven utterly ripping songs found on this LP, along with a seven-part accompanying short film produced by Toohill and Lindsay Tripp which is available on a professionally duplicated VHS. The videos and the music are truly of a piece, however, they are crafted with such deftness that each can stand on their own. Listening to the album decoupled from the video component is interesting because the music is both imaginative and evocative in its own right. More explosive than a lab experiment gone awry, Mince’s Cane pushes the boundaries of hardcore punk in an unrelenting aural attack. Frenetic drumming undergirds blasting bass and guitar riffs that create a haunting atmosphere for the mutated wailing vocals. The lead guitar parts are forward in the mix, and provide the extent of what one could consider harmony. These leads are juicy, though! As a whole, the album is so ripe with character and perverse charm that it just oozes mystique. That’s where the sense of being transported to another realm comes into play. The songs feel bigger than their constituents, hinting at otherworldly psychotropic visions. Drop the needle and strap in, SCIENCE MAN will strip you of your mortal coil. 

Science Man Nines Mecca LP

This band first caught my attention when it was just a one-person project. John Toohill (singer) has since put together a group of like-minded curiosities to record with him on Nines Mecca. The album connects the dots between MC5 and ELECTRIC CHAIR with some metal riffing to carry the weight. Might sound more interesting than it actually is? There is not a ton of variety, as the album’s tracks list all bleed into one another. Standouts for me would be the “The Sign” and “Old Timer,” which offer a bit of refuge from monotony and display a level of vocal terror that could chum around with a young Jerry A. Would be interested to see how the new group continues to formulate.

Nervous Tick and the Zipper Lips / Science Man The COVID Collaborations: Vol. I cassette

Cool split between Buffalo’s NERVOUS TICK AND THE ZIPPER LIPS and SCIENCE MAN where each band contributes one original song, a cover of the other band, and two collaborative tracks. The groups have a pretty different sound and energy, but this tape works and is a hopeful document that the spirit of artistic collaboration can thrive in this time of isolation. The first three tracks show off SCIENCE MAN’s no-frills/no bullshit rock’n’roll with sleazy vocals and meaty STOOGES instrumentation. “The Mask” is three minutes of slow churn proto-punk with a full-ass guitar solo. The next two from them are a little faster but still have OG hard rock vibes with a throaty menace. Tough! The three NERVOUS TICK songs are forged in jerky new wave rhythms, complete with a drum machine under the trebly guitar work. “Don’t Know Where to Go” has stiff, robotic vocals that sound like GARY NUMAN on punk. This tape is a great idea done well, and I look forward to future volumes (hopefully after COVID).

Science Man Science Man II LP+flexi

I thought I’d listened to SCIENCE MAN before. But I think I was conflating NATURAL MAN BAND and some of the more overtly sci-fi denizens of the egg-punk world, like POWERPLANT or RESEARCH REACTOR CORPORATION. To be honest, that impression isn’t too far off. While SCIENCE MAN (one-man project of John Toohill from RADIATION RISKS and other Buffalo bands) may be more indebted to the NEW BOMB TURKS and less to DEVO than any of those bands, he’s still employing the services of a drum machine to make some “out there” music. This is pretty much lightning-fast garage punk laid atop an incessant, driving industrial track with some metal and prog flourishes thrown in (as I’m writing this out, I’m realizing that’s quite the odd set of genre bedfellows, but it works). Although there are nine separate tracks (the physical release also includes a flexi with an additional track), II functions more as a continuous 20-minute mix—once it gets going, it never lets up. This is all really impressive stuff, but I want to highlight this vocal performance. It’s like Greg Cartwright turned up to eleven. Definitely worth checking out.

Science Man Tiny Tower EP

I first heard about these/this freak(s) recently from their Covid Collaboration with NERVOUS TICK and was planning to dig in anyway, so the Assignment Gods be kind this month. It’s like I hoped, and yet more reined in than I expected. Pop sensibilities crammed into bedroom punk recordings, like fuzzed out ’60s Nuggets amped up on all of the drugs (which is an ironic comparison, when you really think about it). Kinda hardcore, kinda garage punk, the drum machine (and tracks like “Changeling”) makes me think of late ’80s industrial/punk hybrids…imagine a collision of KARP and CHROME and SPITS and NOMEANSNO. Hail Freaks, Hail!