Reboot 2017

Hello? Hello? Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.

More soon…

– Jack

Deltron 3030 – s/t

Maybe it has something to do with February being black history month or maybe it’s just a coincidence, but recently I’ve been listening to a LOT of rap. Which I have newly discovered, thanks to Chris and The Roots, has the potential to be very very cool.  My musical journey has brought to my attention an important album that has endeared both critics and myself, an epic sci-fi hip hop space opera called Deltron 3030.

Deltron consists of three very influential figures in the music industry: Dan the Automater, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, and DJ Kid Koala.  These names should be familiar to anyone who has been following music in the last ten years.  Why? These three men were the head honcho’s on Damon Albarn’s legendary Gorillaz project.  Any fan of the Gorillaz which, *ahem*, should be all of you reading, owes it to himself to check out what is the spiritual predecessor to one of the greatest pop albums of all time.  In fact, Damon Albarn, who collaborates on the track “Time Keeps On Slipping”, as well as bookending the album, has said in various interviews that his work on the track is what led him to create Gorillaz.

Sonically the album is pretty expansive and sounds exactly the way you would imagine the year 3030.  Cowboy Bebop and Blade Runner would be at home in the world of Deltron, and fortunately for us, we’re invited too.  The album isn’t exactly diverse, but it manages to hold even a casual listener’s attention.  The beats are fresh, the production is grungy, and the lyrics range from silly science fiction fantasies to serious political commentary.  In all honesty, Del could probably rap about anything and make it interesting.  One for the Iron Man in all of us.

– Jack


Battles – Mirrored

To wrap up math rock I give you the best of the best: Battles.  They’ve been around since something like 2004, with their first full length in 2007, and have been suspiciously (and frustratingly) silent since 2008.  Like, no tours, no announcements, no nothing.  Usually any group that pulled that kind of stunt would fall off the face of the planet and get dropped, but Battles is no ordinary band.

Frontman and composer Tyondai Braxton is the son of composer Anthony Braxton, and avant-garde is something that runs in the family.  Battles songs are composed layer by layer, piece by piece and do NOT sound like anything you have heard before.  Guitars are used sparingly, focusing instead on a heavy application of loops, samples, and an eclectic array of bleeps and bloops, as well as Tyondai’s several-octaves-shifted vocals, which are essentially atmoshperic gibberish.  All of this is held down by one of my favorite drummers, Helmet’s John Stanier.  The man is absolutely robotic and a beast on his kit, which is minimalistic and known for it’s mile high crash cymbal.  Battles is a textbook example of the first “flavor” of math rock.  The time signature during the build up of the sprawling epic “Rainbows” is measured in 19/8…whatever that may mean to you.

As a whole, Mirrored is dark; it’s a real soundtrack for spelunking.  That said it is far from sparse, and happens to have some of the heaviest locked-in grooves I can think of.  It is a journey that ends where it began, coming full circle with a conclusion (aptly titled Race: Out) that leaves the album pleading for subsequent listens. You’ve heard them in commercials. Now hear them for real.


Atlas Music Video (way cool)


Tera Melos – untitled

A few days ago Chris suggested an album by Foals, a math rock band.  This got me pretty excited, because it’s been a while since I have heard anything worthwhile come out of math rock.  But it got me thinking – math rock is really an umbrella term used to describe two genres.  The first “flavor” of math rock includes bands like Foals and the Brooklyn-based Battles, who incorporate weird time signatures and syncopation into their music, while in the second “flavor” bands are less strict with their playing.  You know, start-stop bullshit.

Start-stop bullshit can mean one of two things. Generally it tends to mean “suck”.  Bands like Giraffes? Giraffes! come to mind (what kind of a band name is that?).  But, on occasion, start-stop music CAN be pulled off, and with amazing results.  One band that does it especially well is Sacramento’s Tera Melos.

Citing influences like Fugazi, Minor Threat, Pixies, and Weezer, it’s hard to imagine where Tera Melos got their signature instrumental sound.  They were the pioneers of start-stop math rock, which is characterized by build-ups, break downs, and off beat riffage.  That sounds like a recipe for disaster, and typically it is, but Tera Melos does something that I have heard no other math rock band do – incorporate soundscapes.  Beautiful, melodious soundscapes.

The album is comprised of seven purely instrumental songs, each called “Melody (#)”, and the album is officially untitled (a la Led Zeppelin’s fourth album).  That means there are no words or titles to worry about, creating an album that is a 100% musical experience. At 32 minutes it is the perfect length, concise, but not short.

The band paints a Mona Lisa, pulls out some Sharpies, and scribbles all over their masterpiece.  Does it ruin what was once a work of art? Or is the deconstruction of beauty in and of itself…beautiful?  That’s up to you to decide.

– Jack

Watch them get down (19 second clip)

Download the album

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