Thank God For Science Photo by Mike Spencer

Sometimes when it comes to discovering new music, timing is everything. This discovery began at 3 a.m. on a recent Monday, when I awoke in the throes of an allergy attack that kept me up for the better part of an hour. Sleep eluded me long enough that I grabbed my phone and started scrolling through work email. I came across one telling me about a band based in Providence and Boston called Thank God For Science, their new album “Humans Are Special” and about their upcoming show in Portland.

The press release described the album like this: “Imagine a cross-country trek, a landscape both strange and familiar: You check into a roadside motel and flip on the tube, jiggle the rabbit ears. Scrambled signals. Some sort of cosmic-cable, a dimly lit marquee missing litters.” I thought to myself that this was either a plot for the next David Lynch film or it was a band I needed to make a point of listening to.

A half a box of tissues, one allergy pill, two Tylenols, one long shower, a huge cup of coffee and about four hours later I was at my desk listening to “Humans Are Special.” I’ve since listened to it upward of 10 times all the way through. Every time I’ve picked up another nuance and another thing I love about an album that is all over the map: experimental, gentle and soothing, groove-driven and hard-hitting rock. Most of the tracks are instrumental.

If this album were a film, you’d find it in the legendary “incredibly strange films” section of still-missed Videoport. I checked out their Facebook page and found this spot-on description: “Thank God For Science is a one of  kind musical medium that explores sonic and musical vocabulary searching for harmony, chaos, enlightenment and everything in between.”

Thank God For Science is the creation of bassist Jeremy Moses Curtis. The rest of the band is Peter MacLean (drums), James Rohr (keyboards), Mike Castellana (guitar), Mark Pinasky (multi-instrumentalist), Laurence Scudder (viola) and Barry Rothman (vintage turntables and effect pedals).

Among the most enthralling elements of  “Humans Are Special” are the snippets and samples compiled by Curtis, which are a combination of audio from records in the public domain played on an old phonograph through effects pedals and small practice amps, clips from radio plays and audio collage pieces that Curtis created using one-minute audio text messages from band members from wherever they were in the world.

“Humans Are Special” opens with “Oldsmobuick.” Peculiar sounds filter in and out, like a telephone ring and dialogue from a voice that brings someone like Jack Lemmon to mind. But there are also fierce guitar licks and symphonic crescendos. The song’s essentially a musical mood ring.

Then, as if to say to the listener, “This album isn’t what you might think it is,” the next track, “Fingerpricking,” takes you down a lovely acoustic path with guitar and strings.

“I-M Moon Blues” snaps you out of the “Fingerpricking” daydream with a chaotic foray into an aural wormhole with horns, drums, harmonica, bass, guitar and vocals and a few other sounds that I can’t quite identify. Guess what? It totally works!

“Dadadeco” sounds like it could be music from an ’80s sci-fi video game. There are squishy pulses that sound like, oh I don’t know, the footsteps of, say, a marshmallow alien that is making its way through a planetary obstacle course. There are flare-ups of electric guitar that would accompany laser battles and assorted other sounds and riffs. This goes on for nearly six minutes and it’s a groovy ride.

“Feetsteps” is a chill tune with bass and low-key sweeps of percussion and electric guitar that transport me to a corner table at a tiny jazz club.

All of this is to say that “Humans Are Special” is an unconventional melange of 10 tracks that are like strangers on a train, but it’s also quite cohesive. Said another way, I don’t always know just what in the heck I’m listening to. But I sure do like it.

Want to know how Thank God For Science will translate the album live? Head to The Apohadion Theater on Saturday night.

Thank God For Science
8 p.m. Saturday. The Apohadion Theater, 107 Hanover St., Portland, $8, all ages. theapohadiontheater.com

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