Facebook Slider

AlgoRhythms #2 [0x1CAB5C1]

  • Published in Columns


Welcome to the second installment of Musos' Guide's monthly (mostly) math-rock column AlgoRhythms, coming at you this time with a bit more of a "What is this about?" approach after last time's platform for flaunting my music taste. So, what is this bizarre genre to which this page of the internet is dedicated? Well, according to the infinite wisdom of Wikipedia it's "a style of indie rock that emerged in the late 1980s in the United States, influenced by post-hardcore and progressive rock bands, characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures bearing similarities to post-rock."

My taste for this music stems from those irregularities and intricacies, which lends a sense of engagement when listening, as the layers unfold listen after listen. Starting with the quirks of Foals' debut album and delving deep into the frantic math-core of Rolo Tomassi and The Dillinger Escape Plan, the road has been frenetic and interesting. However, it's the invention and optimism of "math-pop" bands like Signals. and The Darien Venture that really sparks my imagination. 

Below are a list of bands I would consider vital to my induction into this style of music, topped off with a new track from Manchester Orchestra for good measure. As my first choices weren't available on Soundcloud, I've included one track for listening now and an additional, ideal suggestion if you're looking for some "further listening" or "homework" whatever on this mathematical journey. But for now, waffling over once again, and time for the music... 

Biffy of the Month: 'In The Name Of The Wee Man'

This track, like a lot of the band's b-sides in recent years, is a taste of the "good old times" in the present day. Cutting through the pop-rock anthems for which they are now known and renowned, this track harks straight back to the Beggars Banquet trilogy with its raw and visceral nature. Yet, the song is still absolutely massive before it descends into madness and Simon Neil's feral screams make a welcome return to close out studio album #7 (Ellipsis). That slow burn into a ferocious closing is undeniably cathartic, and tracks as exciting as this are why Biffy Clyro are one of the biggest names in UK rock music today. 

1. Foals - 'Mountain At My Gates' (Two Steps, Twice)


Whilst the disjointed and angular roots of Antidotes makes it my favourite Foals album without question, 'Mountain At My Gates' is a killer track from their equally killer most recent record What Went Down. You might notice that the "build to an impressive something" theme here, which is pretty much story of those awesome loud-quiet dynamics. This track in particular is full of guitar and swagger before that understated "solo" picks up the pace and Yannis Philippakis' shouts get slightly more unintelligible and soulful. 

2. 65daysofstatic - 'Red Parallax' (The Fall Of Math)


Again, it's that bizarre debut record (The Fall Of Math) that really resonates with me, but over the years since 65daysofstatic (pictured above) have really made a name for themselves alongside the likes of Mogwai as one of the instrumental musical behemoths. Most recently they've provided a soundtrack for the video game No Man's Sky featuring an array of expansive and energetic tracks like 'Red Parallax' to capture the game's vast and engaging nature. This track instills a wonderful sense of purpose and wonder into the listener. 

3. Battles - 'The Yabba' (Futura)

Embed doesn't seem to be working, so the Soundcloud page is here

The artwork of Gloss Drop enticed me into the music of Battles, and their mystical powers of composition still enthrall me. 'The Yabba' was the first track released from latest album La Di Da Di and is somewhat jarring with its meandering pace and direction (the music video is likely to confuse also). Walking that line between math- and post-rock, song durations stretch out, and so clocking in at just under seven minutes this track is going to divide opinion between those who "appreciate the art" and those who are a little more wary of the style. 

4. American Football - 'Give Me The Gun' (I'll See You When We're Both Not So Emotional)


American Football's self-titled debut record is arguably the modern math-rock record, with its lush and intricate composition setting the path for pretty much everything that followed. Yet this is a band I somehow bypassed until I was already at the heart of the party, and then the self-titled return to the fray arrived last year and affirmed their status. Equally tender and beautifully poised, tracks like 'Give Me The Gun' serve to showcase the band's talent and deft of touch in composition as layers of emotion and instrumentation interweave to strike the perfect tone. 

5. Brontide - 'Matador' (Tonitro)


Returning to the "building to something awesome" theme, this track is a prime and straight-up awesome example of loop pedals and crescendos. As the layers and tension build you can sense that dirty guitar chord break minutes in advance, but it's still satisfying when it hits. Like American Football, Brontide have that intrinsic ability to compose music which is simultaneously free-flowing and complex. Two records in and their brand of pop-tinged instrumental rock is up there with the best you can lay your ears on. 

6. Manchester Orchestra - 'The Gold' (The Alien)


Finishing with something more on the "indie" spectrum we have the phenomenal Manchester Orchestra, who released the arguably perfect track 'Shake It Out'. Ahead of new album A Black Mile To The Surface which is released next month, they've released some tracks to remind us of the powerful and emotive nature of Andy Hull and company's songwriting. As 'The Gold' saunters along, it gives all the flavours of a stadium anthem of the future, and like most songs by this band that feral edge lingers under the surface. 

Thanks for your attention for another month, and catch us in the same place next time. If you have any suggestions of any kind, musical or otherwise, please just shoot a nudge over to @kj_mccormick and I'll be happy to chat it out with you. But for another few weeks, have a lovely summer time and... 



AlgoRhythms #1 [0x18D85B1]

  • Published in Columns


Welcome to a new monthly Musos' Guide column, AlgoRhythms, coming to you on the last Friday of the month for the foreseeable future. I always wanted to do a column with this name, and my love for math-rock and terrible puns were the primary reasons. Sadly, I'm not quite as tapped into that genre as I once was, so the column will flow a little more freely in terms of genre, but will be undoubtedly math-tinged. 

As our previous mainstay The Weekly Froth! has passed on, in homage to its dated titles I've opted to do the same, but with the number in hexadecimal for that wholly unnecessary numerical twist. Additionally, as they're certainly the band that's had the most influence on my music taste over the years, I've opted to include one Biffy Clyro track per month, with a focus on the bizarre so we can dig out those golden oldies. However, as it's unlikely all those tracks will be (legitimately) available on the internet, I'll just omit the player forever to avoid inconsistency.

But yes, that should be all the waffling and preface text out of the way, so let's get down to the music, shall we? 

Biffy of the Month: 'With Aplomb'

Arguably my favourite track by arguably my favourite band, from undeniably my favourite record of theirs, The Vertigo of Bliss. This song is so good I once started a music blog named after it, but in all seriousness it's the sheer confusion of its composition that makes it so beautiful. The music is twisted and progressive, from those trite guitar and string melodies at the opening, to the sweeping drama of its most ferocious moments. Furthermore, the lyrics are apparently absolute nonsense but all the better for it, and whilst Simon Neil's lyricism has never won any accolades, "Kill your bizarre mindset, fuckhead / Soldered to a three-layered concrete brainwave castration" really hits the peak of bewilderment. With liberal doses of bizarre time signatures, this record was a stepping stone on the path to math-rock for high school me, and this song is a perfect place to kick off a new column. 

1. tricot - 'Melon Soda'


Accelerating quickly from 2003 to the present day, tricot's aptly titled third record 3 was released on Big Scary Monsters this month, and is a taste of modern Japanese math-rock. With a visually confusing video (it appears to be simultaneously backwards and forwards), preceding single 'Melon Soda' twists and weaves with Ikkyu Nakajima's vocal. Angular bass and guitar melodies dance a merry dance from the outset to an abrupt ending, with the whole track striking a pleasant tone at an enjoyable and leisurely pace. 

2. Minus the Bear - 'What About The Boat?'


Staying in 2017 and Minus the Bear have recently released their first record in five years. The preceding record was actually released on Big Scary Monsters, but it was 2002's Highly Refined Pirates that really spoke to me in terms of that math-rock beauty. Taken from VOIDS (released 3rd March by Suicide Squeeze), 'What About The Boat?' is a dreamy number which saunters along for the majority of its duration, before droning into some amount of excitable discord before fading to a close. 

3. Tall Ships - 'Petrichor'


Taken from what is definitely my album of the year so far, their second Impressions, Tall Ships' 'Petrichor' is an emotive indie rock anthem. The album overall is filled with tales of loss and woe, and this track is no different with its powerful dynamics and yearning lyrics. Evolving from the quirky math-rock sounds of their EPs, the band now create soaring rock landscapes such as this, which peaks with those chorus guitars and troughs with an endearing closing passage. 

4. The Darien Venture - 'Thinks / Thoks'


Speaking of loss, let's take a second to consider the loss of math-pop maestros The Darien Venture. Taken from their final mini-album / EP A Kite, A Key and A Storm, 'Thinks / Thoks' lays on the math-rock intricacy from the outset, and providing that in conjunction with some hair-raising vocal harmonies is the flavour that this band did best, and it's a shame they're gone. However, that whole release is available on a "name your price" basis, which means £0 if you want, get on it. 

5. Now, Now - 'SGL'


On the flip side of bands that are never coming back is Now, Now who just unveiled new track 'SGL' (I believe it stands for "shotgun lover"), their first since 2012's album Threads. That record was the one that turned me onto the band, and it's enticing and emotive mix of guitars and electronic elements instantly won we over. 'SGL' is very much in the same vein, with the strummed chord opening to the synth-tinges, but it's therefore equally enjoyable, even if they did shed a member along the way. 

6. Envy On The Coast - 'Virginia Girls'


To finish on another band back from the depths, Envy on the Coast recently announced a new EP Rituals ahead of some reunion shows. 'Virginia Girls' from that release channels the same rock swagger as 2010's Lowcountry and less of the indie leanings of Lucy Gray which came before. Instruments harness that attitude and the band's renewed confidence on this track, and it's an interesting teaser for the revival of the outfit, who have coincidentally also lost some members since we last saw them. 

That's all for this month's musical offloading, but check back on 30th June for some more math-laced musical musings. In the meantime, if you happen to have any musical or journalistic suggestions for the future of AlgoRhythms, please shoot them my way, probably best to go through Twitter (@kj_mccormick) for that. 


Subscribe to this RSS feed