The album cover is adorned with an underwater photo of an octopus. The pieces themselves, as implied by the title and artwork, are very "watery". They make heavy use of muffled but driving 4/4 rhythms, distorted feedback, and echoing synths or guitars. The music has been described as "opaque" and "darkly aquatic". There is also a recurring breathing motif.
In a manner akin to Boards of Canada, The Science of Breath alternates longer, more fully developed tracks with shorter ambient pieces. In this case the ambient pieces are "High Breathing", "Mid Breathing", "Low Breathing" and "Complete Breath". Each of these pieces is deeper in pitch than the last, giving the listener the impression of a deep-sea dive.