If you attended NerdvanaCon back in August, you know that while the heat was oppressive, the turnout was impressive. And you likely heard some great video game- and sci-fi/fantasy-inspired tunes emanating from the makeshift bandstand set up outside the OneOhOne Gallery. That was Scych, a geek rock act formerly known as Oblyvion. Comprising Scych are progressive composer and founder Michael Aubrey Amann on instrumentals and Jennifer Lithawen Feltman on vocals. The major inspirations for this small band of Valley geek rockers are Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Dungeons & Dragons and World of Warcraft.
Amann says he grew up enjoying progressive rock and wanted to meld that with fantasy and sci-fi concepts, but despaired of losing the opportunity as era of prog rock began to wane.
“Later progressive rock came back with groups like Dream Theater, Planet X and Glass Hammer, but the conceptual aspect was either lacking or missing. It wasn’t until I started to notice the proliferation of nerd conventions for Star Trek, fantasy and comic book heroes that I thought there could be a demand for fantasy and sci fi based music at these events,” he wrote in email correspondence with Nerdvana. “I then got wind of a band called Sci Fried who wrote parody songs about sci-fi concepts and played at Dragon*Con and Vul-Con events and I thought, there’s proof of concept, this can work. I’d also noticed that the music in video games was quite progressive and interesting. I also love the trends in movie soundtracks and film score music and thought they could be blended well with progressive rock. So I took my music project, with years of playing experience and all the equipment I needed and jumped into the Geek rock scene.
“This was an amazing opportunity to do the kind of music I’d always wanted to do with no compromises and a brand new market sector hungry for my type of material. Later I saw that an annual event called Nerdapalooza was taking place in Florida and I said, ‘this is it, this is really happening.’ Not only that but I have the help of amazing advances in music technology like drums triggers and electronic drums that make a myriad of sounds available, both electronic and acoustic. Also keyboard workstations that allow one person to bring an entire orchestra to the stage. What was only possible in the studio can now be done live! So putting my love for nerdy concepts like computer programming, Harry Potter, D&D, Star Wars and Star Trek all into a musical act was like DM’ing again. I’m making up my own stories in fantasy and sci-fi worlds and sharing them with people who enjoy that kind of experience.”
While the vision is Amann’s, the voice is clearly, and hauntingly, that of Lithawen, aka Jennifer. Just check out her covers of Enya’s Lord of the Rings ballads, as well as an homage to the renegade Vulcans of Star Trek Enterprise, “V’tosh Ka’tur.” There’s also a great cover of WoW classic “Lament of the Highbourne” as well as the enchanting original composition “Blessing of the Witch Queens,” based on AD&D lore.
But there’s room for one more.
“I recruited Jennifer to do the vocals because I want the lyrics to be presented by someone who’s really good. Ideally I’d like to add a flexible bass/guitar player to the stage show and take it from there.”
Lithawen covers Aniron from The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings: