Best Crisis Ever, the new album from trans-continental ApSci (pronounced APP-sigh), was begun in a Brooklyn apartment overlooking a coffee factory in 2006, and finished in a Sydney apartment by the beach in 2008. While 2005’s Thanks for Asking was a collabo-rich hip-hop-electro diary with guests spanning from indie-rap pinch hitters Mr. Lif and Pigeon John to the bandleaders of TV On The Radio and Antibalas, the new record has been executed almost entirely by the duo, Australian-Filipina Dana Diaz-Tutaan and the Irish-Italian, Bronx-born Raphael LaMotta. It’s a louder, catchier and more expansive take on ApSci’s unique combination of electro, hip-hop and quirky pop, relying heavier on songwriting and a combination of vintage drum machine sounds, synths and guitars. It’s equal parts New York bravado and Australian charm, reflecting the respective hometowns of each, and how the duo, despite the nearly opposite lifestyle and pace of the cities, have managed to comfortably straddle both for nearly a decade.
A little history: the Iate 90s, summertime in New York. Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe, Rocksteady Reunion, Baby Jupiter were the places that mattered to a devoted scene. Solesides, Company Flow, Mike Ladd and Antipop Consortium were underground brainiac heroes. Open mics and street cyphers were a vibrant and common occurrence in every borough, and people came from all over the world to experience the city’s late-era hip-hop renaissance.
It was in this context that Dana, who was then visiting New York, met Raphael. Although their first encounter wasn’t exactly congenial (“I was in a weird mood,” Ra explains. “He was rude,” Dana counters), they were a part of a tight circle of performers and often found themselves on the same bill, or in the same crowd, or freestyling on the same corners. Soon studio time was booked, pager numbers were exchanged, and before long they were collaborators, writing and recording their own unique material.
Get It Twisted (which would later become Thanks for Asking) was released with Australia’s indie hip hop giants Elefant Traks in 2003, and France’s cutting-edge indie boutique Ekler’o’shock put out a 12″ of “Tirade Highway” in 2004. Shortly after, Chief Xcel of Blackalicious heard the duo while on tour in Australia and promptly signed them to Quannum Projects.
In 2005, Thanks for Asking was released worldwide and ApSci toured through North America and Europe. The album received accolades from everywhere from The New York Times, SPIN, and TimeOut New York to Music For Robots. Upon hearing it, David Byrne tapped Dana to play the lead in his improbable musical about Imelda Marcos, Here Lies Love, co-produced by Fatboy Slim. The UK breakbeat team Plump DJs even sampled from Thanks for Asking and collaborated with Raphael on two songs from their 2008 release, HeadThrash, and both tracks featuring Ra top the UK dance charts.
In the spring of 2009, shortly before the release of Best Crisis Ever, chose ApSci for their “Next 100” issue, and the duo’s infectious new album standout, “Crazy Crazy Insane,” is currently being featured on a national television ad for Time Warner Cable. They’ve also recently completed the Scuff Kicks Mixtape Vol. 1 with Australian premier DJ Anna Lunoe (Modular Records).
Having already toured and shared the bill with The Strokes, Spank Rock, Depeche Mode, Coldcut, Lyrics Born, Lady Sovereign, Numark, Blackalicious and Aesop Rock, ApSci certainly know how to put on a show. Their live set includes monster drummer Guy Licata (Hercules & Love Affair, Santigold, Bill Laswell) and veteran DJ Big Wiz (Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif) on the stage, along with several tag-teamers from across the globe, like Paris club hero DJ Gero and DJ Kuya (the talented brother of The Avalanches’ Dexter). They’ve definitely paid their dues – they’ve performed in sweaty dance clubs from New York to Paris, Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne, and on festival stages to tens of thousands at France’s Eurokeennes and Australia’s Pyramid Rock Festival – and are ready to head out again, as excited and energetic and absolutely inventive as ever.