Dean Honer and chums go back to school

What is ‘The Sound Of Science’, exactly? Well, if you’re Sheffield’s Dean Honer and Essex-based songwriter Kevin Pearce, it’s the soundtrack from their science show for children and adults. But this isn’t just any old boring science show.

You will know Honer, of course, from The All Seeing I, I Monster, The Moonlandingz, The Eccentronic Research Council and International Teachers Of Pop, and as a producer for The Human League and Róisín Murphy, so you’ll have an inkling of what to expect from ‘The Sound Of Science’ as he puts all his knob-twiddling nous to excellent use.

First, a bit of context. As a parent, Honer endured his fair share of “cliched and awful children’s songs that attempted to combine education and entertainment”. Here, roping in his old pal Pearce, he sets out to liven things up with his own curriculum – “informative songs and music” that are “appealing and bearable”. The result? Imagine an educational science class presented by Kraftwerk and the Radiophonic Workshop, and you’re getting halfway close.

Taken from immersive live shows first performed by Honer, Pearce and cohorts back in 2018, complete with experiments and 3D visuals, ‘The Sound Of Science’ is typically well-crafted. Honer’s heady electronics combine with Pearce’s folk sensibilities – most notably on ‘The Water Cycle’ – as various spoken interjections and facts (touching on atoms, the speed of light and more) convey a scientific “sense of wonder”. That it all somehow harks back to “oddball” children’s telly programmes and public information films from the 1960s and 70s is no accident, a feeling exacerbated by designer Nick Taylor’s colourful and informative insert art, like the pages of an old Ladybird book.

It’s mostly Honer’s whizzy tricks and catchy rhythms that propel everything along. Opener ‘Photosynthesis’ is pure joy, as guest vocalist Liza Violet sings of “fantastic green machines” while zippy synths noodle away. Set to a nagging electro backdrop, ‘These Are The Elements’ rattles along (“Silicon, Phosphorous, Sulphur…”) in a delightfully stentorian vocoded stylee. Even ‘Global Warming’, warning of the dangers of greenhouse gases, is ameliorated by charming and scintillating analogue electronica.

With their original touring schedule derailed by the pandemic, Honer and Pearce hope to take ‘The Sound Of Science’ out on the road again later this year. If this dazzling and enlightening album is anything to go by, it promises to be quite the lesson.

Leave a Reply
You May Also Like
Read More

Delia Derbyshire Day 2021

For the 2021 Delia Derbyshire Day, the charity responsible for the annual event commissioned two fascinating new pieces…