Over the past two years doing The Math Lab, I’ve come across hundreds of albums, countless bands, dozens of EPs, and more singles than you can count. Since my first show in May of 2015, I’ve accrued over 70 gigabytes of math rock and noise rock spanning the last decade. While I’ve played almost the entirety of the collection, many of these albums haven’t seen the light of radio airplay in many months, if not the better part of a year.
A few months ago, I released a collection of ten mini-reviews of some of my personal favorites. Well, I’m back with another Choice Cuts selection, featuring ten more fantastic albums that will probably rock your socks off. They aren’t listed in any particular order, and they span many years across many different styles. So ENJOY, these are some of the hottest finds I’ve dug up while doing The Math Lab. Stay frosty.
Bertier is the debut album by Belgian math rock group Mambo. This ten track album is a killer collection of mathematical jams that draw heavily upon bands like Adebisi Shank and The Redneck Manifesto. Although the album is completely instrumental, the progressive writing and uniquely titled tracks give each song its own story. Whether goofy sounding like “Botox Party”, or just plain bizarre (a la “McLane vs Turbodog”), Mambo’s songs carry a lackadaisical atmosphere that still makes you want to bob your head, even if the music is a bit arrhythmical.
Favorite tracks: Krokodile Junkie, Bamboo Fight
I Can’t See Parallel Lines is the debut EP by Follow Me Follow You, an experimental math rock trio out of Pretoria, South Africa. For fans of women bandleaders and singers, this group is right up your alley. It’s honestly quite refreshing hearing the delicate, composed warble of a talented woman rather than the strained whines of an angry twenty-something man (that certainly doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the later, though). That being said, Follow Me Follow You is crisp and tight, and their breakout release is a wonderful amalgam of styles and techniques from bands all over the globe. These guys are funky, charming, and groovy, all while maintaining an undeniably math rock atmosphere.
Favorite tracks: It’s Not a Bug It’s a Feature, Pork Futures
This two piece emo-fuelled math rock group released their first and only self titled album early this year, and it has continued to be a personal favorite of mine. This simple yet engaging album combines the charisma of essential garage pop groups such as Weezer with the nostalgic allure of early 2000s emo music. In terms of instrumentation, there’s truly not a lot going on, which is why this album truly shines in regards to lyrical and compositional content. Lana Avacada is welcoming and sweet, and without compromising the very things which got it onto The Math Lab in the first place.
Favorite tracks: Today Is Hell, Cards Go Down
This band is one of the first groups I became intensely interested in following the creation of The Math Lab. The allure is somewhere within their monumental, epics they call songs; instrumentals upwards of twelve minutes, which constantly undulate and change and never repeat the same thing twice. Seeing as this is their only release, it’s easy to get lost in this album. It’s difficult to discuss the presence and energy of a seven minute long song about a sentimental dinosaur, so I think it’s just best to check it out for yourself. I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Favorite tracks: And As Technique Became Invisible, All That Was Left Was Pure Emotion; Clueless Wizard
Get ready to be covered in tar and thrown into an abandoned coal mine, because that’s what Fast Travel has in mind for you with this explosion of an EP. Head on Backwards is the follow up release to Fast Travel’s debut album, and it absolutely devastates anything that came before, and most likely anything that will precede it. Every song is a barely-one-minute thrash of instrumentation, full of anger and fuzz and plenty of distorted screaming. Like a maffia execution, this EP is quick and grim. Get ready for a little terror.
Favorite tracks: the whole album is under 5 minutes long, just listen to it
Yawn Hic, hailing from the far off land of Russia, have released four instrumental math rock albums, their third being the album Ион Хикса, which translates to “Ion Hick”. For fans of no frills “classic” math rock, Yawn Hic will 100% deliver a killer collection of twisted jams and uprooted compositions. From a production standpoint, this album is polished and shiny, which is perfect for demonstrating the instrumental prowess of the members of the band. They sound tight, rehearsed, and full of skewed ways to play their instruments. Moments of pure anger are intersected by calm spells, which ultimately turn back into unhinged musicianship.
Favorite tracks: Дельта, Все провода - красные
When the days get shorter, the air gets colder, and the weather gets foul; it’s time to break out Shapes In Rapid. This album by Washington band Apartment Kids is an emotional, dark journey through personal experience and hardship. Instead of relying on played out distortion and gravelly vocals, Apartment Kids paints a grim picture of the dark side of life through suspense and mystery. Songs like “Oxygen Dumb” gently undulate with a dark energy underneath a well crafted facade. Shapes In Rapid is almost hypnotic in a way, and can drag you deeper and deeper into its depths if you aren’t careful.
Favorite tracks: So Metal, Knuckles-Shanks
Kaschalot is the stage name of a one man math rock outfit from Tallinn, Estonia. His debut self-titled release is a tour de force of one-man-bands, although maybe a little on the short side in terms of length. Barring that minor detail, this collection of songs is sharp as a tack and easy to enjoy. All instrumental songs leave plenty to the imagination, which is part of the draw of a one man music group. While Kaschalot may not be anything completely new, the impressiveness of one man’s ability to compose and arrange four complex songs such as these is unbelievable. This is a quick, friendly listen; and I guarantee you’ll really dig something off this album.
Favorite tracks: Brother, Summer Sandwich
All right, it’s time to get seriously weird with this album. Wizardskin is like the Aqua Teen Hunger Force of this list: it makes no sense and you need to be stoned to truly be engaged with it. That being said, Live At the National Archive of Censored Material is a befuddled look at experimental music, production, and interpretation. Tracks feature distorted synth loops, Arabesque riffs, minimalistic percussion, and an overarching theme of complete confusion. How did this get made? I’m not sure, but a lack of forward thinking and planning is evident when listening to this album. However, that is not a bad remark under any circumstances, and frankly I don’t think such an off the wall collection of songs could be made without frazzled improvisation and no regard for continuity.
Favorite tracks: What Is It?/Peace In Out, Abcsoabc
100% Mouse is the debut release by New York math rockers Mouse Fitzgerald. In simplest terms, this album is just plain dandy. It’s familiar and friendly sounding, but still offers new angles on classic themes and elements that are essential to math rock. Without overstepping its boundaries, this album accomplishes so much with such a basic set of sounds and tones. This collection of songs is a testament to the ability a few talented musicians have to make something simple sound so new. To top it off, almost every song name is a pun or some other play on words. This album is simple, sweet, and wonderful.
Favorite tracks: Twerk Team Six, Zero Dark Thirty Rack