100 great math rock albums you’ve never heard [26-50]

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26. Golden – Golden (1998)

golden What do The Mars Volta, Trans Am, Queens of the Stone Age, The Fucking Champs, Six Finger Satellite and god knows how many other bands have in common with math rock? They all featured members of Golden. And to top it all off, this quartet formed at Oberlin College, the birthplace of math rock godfathers Slint, Bitch Magnet and Bastro. Yep, there’s a lot of trivia surrounding these math rock heavyweights of old… NH

27. Couch – Fantasy (1999)

couch It shouldn’t be any surprise that typing ‘couch fantasy’ brings up some pretty strange search results. It is the inevitable fate that Munich quartet Couch will have to live with, fans bypassing their magnificent Fantasy and stumbling on salacious foot orgies or what-have-you. But we have ’em covered. Fantasy is a hypnotic mix of kraut rock, space rock, jazz, math rock and post rock, a tick-in-the-box for fans of Tortoise, Trans Am, and Maserati. This one makes a great road album. NH


28. The Purkinje Shift – Five for the Road and One for the Ditch (1999)

purkinjeshift If you’re looking for an unequivocally math rock album from the late 90’s, here’s your puppy. Five for the Road and One for the Ditch defines the late 90’s renaissance of math rock, where more emphasis was being put on guitar melodies and stylistic chord progressions. This wave of revitalised movement featured key players like Pele, Euphone and Turing Machine; and was pushed forward by labels like Jade Tree Records and Polyvinyl. The Purkinje Shift were an exemplary player at this time, and Five for the Road and One for the Ditch remains one of their best assets.

29. Gaji – Focus / Fluid / Daub (1999)

gaji How can Japan’s math rock history be considered complete without a mention of experimental noise-punk outfit Gaji? Focus / Fluid / Daub is evidently in a different playpen when compared to the more light-hearted stylings of toe, Low-pass and downy. This album perhaps shares more in common with Melt Banana and Afrirampo, comprising high-energy punk with wailing female vocals and quirky guitar trickery. This challenging listen is likely to please fans of Japanese prog/math/experimental overlords RuinsNH

30. Lustre King – Shoot The Messenger (1999)

lustreking It’s near impossible to find any full albums of Lustre King online. Matt Jencik of Don Caballero introduced me to these guys and I was shocked I hadn’t heard of them previously. Shoot The Messenger is a choice cut of classic Chicago 90’s angular math rock. WC


31. Neutrino – Neutrino (1999)

neutrino Neutrino‘s very brief stint brought together members of math rock acts Pencil and Big’n to forge a more melodic and emotional math rock experiment. This was an extremely tricky album to find in its digital form but fortunately, you can now download it legally for free here. As you will note, the featured track has one of the best bass lines in the history of math rock. NH

32. Paul Newman – Machine Is Not Broken (2000)

paulnewman Paul Newman was a band that proved early on that complex music did not necessarily have to be fast. Machine Is Not Broken is an album that perfectly captures this sentiment, comprising a series of off-kilter slow dances that are as crisp and precise as they are uplifting. It’s a signature style that was later advanced by Dilute, Pretend and many others. NH


33. Rumah Sakit – Rumah Sakit (2000)

rumahsakit Recorded live without overdubs, this stunning debut by Rumah Sakit (‘sick house’ in Indonesian) reflects the band’s choice to present music in its unabridged and organic form. You can hear drum sticks dropping on the floor. And even with its sporadic blemishes, this mix of math rock, prog and post rock is still compelling and indisputably original. An uncompromising release with a wabi-sabi aesthetic. NH


34. Ent – Ent (2000)

ent Another extremely difficult album to find due to its simple name. Ent‘s self-titled debut marks a time when math rock was moving to intricate guitar-tapped melodies over complex meters. This is one of the most exciting math rock records of its time, and a nice precursor to tapping stalwarts like Piglet and Them, Roaringtwenties. An equally listenable release is their very rare 2005 7″ Farewell Metropolis. NH


35. Lynx – Lynx (2000)

lynx It’s hard not to talk about Boston band Lynx without bringing up Dave Konopka, the guitarist in the band before going on to play in one of the most important bands of the last decade regardless of genre: Battles. Konopka got his start crafting a unique sound with Lynx in the late 90’s, and laying seminal influence for the kind of sounds math rock was evolving into. Check out more of their story here. And yes, that album artwork was shot by Konopka, who, yes indeed, also did all of Battles‘ album artworks… WC

36. Abilene – Abilene (2000)

abilene Abilene is the only band we know of that Fred Erskine played in after June of 44 broke up. This band quickly came and went in the early 2000’s in Chicago, producing this stellar full-length and Two Guns Twin Arrows a year later. WC

37. Cove – Show Me Your Nature (2000)

cove Show Me Your Nature was one of the earliest releases in the burgeoning wave of British post rock/math rock scene in the early 2000’s. An album that is unfortunately corroding with time, it’s a beautiful Spiderland-style slow burner. Cove‘s second full length is mathy, sludgy, crusty, beautiful and unrelenting. A prized relic for the math rock history museum.AS/NH

38. Frodus – And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea (2001)

frodus Frodus‘s furious mix of math rock, punk and post-hardcore cemented them as underdogs of the 90’s D.C. scene. And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea was the band’s swansong, as it was not soon after that the members went their separate ways. Their parting album is their most melodic, their most imaginative, and arguably their highest achievement. We simply cannot lose this album to the annals of time. NH

39. Volta do Mar – At The Speed Of Light Or Day (2001)

voltadomar Californian act Volta Do Mar is a band that gets an internet mention from time to time, though not enough to warrant widespread thanks and praises. Simply put, the band created some of the most invigorating instrumental jams of the 2000’s. At the Speed of Light or Day was the band’s first full length, recorded live to tape overnight in a Chicago steel wire processing plant. The album is fast, jazzy, experimental, and whole lotta fun. NH


40. 31Knots – A World Is Also A Picture Of A Word (2002)

31knts The 2000’s were underway and the math rock/post-hardcore fission was starting to peter out. However, Portland trio 31 Knots were holding their own on the sinking ship, combining bare-knuckled punk energy with incredible feats of math rock instrumentation. Yet at the same time, the band were also entering new math rock territory, employing a bountiful use of frenetic tapped melodies that, save for some obvious acts (Don Cabll*cough cough*), was still sparse across the genre. A World Is Also A Picture Of A Word (a reference to the wonderful Libra by Don Dellilo), their greatest, is an album that must be systematically plucked apart to hear the complex, and quite frankly enthralling, interplay between the guitar and bass tapped phrases. It’s an album will have you retiring early to recover, only to come back salivating for more. NH

41. Harkonen – Shake Harder Boy (2002)

harkonen I appreciate a good pre-Season 10 Simpsons quip for putting a witty spin on things. However, it’s unusual to see such a quip adorning something as bludgeoning as Harkonen‘s eponymous sophomore record. Harkonen emerged during an exciting wave of revitalised math rock-infused punk in Washington around the early 2000’s (These Arms Are Snakes, Kill Sadie and others). In Shake Harder Boy, listeners will be forgiven for a slack and sludgy version of Botch or Coalesce. This one’s a hard hitting hammer.NH

42. Dakota/Dakota – Shoot In The Dark (2003)

dakotadakota Dakota/Dakota‘s Shoot In The Dark is another nice example of the beginnings of clean-toned, staccato, tappity-tappity noodly-noodly math rock, which was becoming exceedingly popular in the early 2000’s. The occasional bumps and out-of-sync slip ups only gives this wonderful album more charm. And, bonus points, it has some of the funniest song titles, rivalling The Bulletproof Tiger. NH

43. Larval – Obedience (2003)

larval It’s hard not to revive this avant-garde math rock, post rock masterpiece from Detroit supergroup Larval. Obedience is an album that still has the ability to flex instrumental muscles 15 years on from its release. A slow burner, but undoubtedly worthwhile. NH


44. Colditz Glider – Properties Of Light (2004)

colditz glider An Australian math rock gem. Colditz Glider was started in 2003 by Melbourne music students Lynden and Caley, and Ben, who ran a cafe called Good Morning, Captain (psst, Slint fans). Properties of Light is their 2004 ground-shaking EP, boasting supreme musicianship, unhinged guitar-work and drummer Olie Williams’ experimentation with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Colditz unfortunately disbanded rather abruptly two years after their inception. As such, Properties of Light is a rare sight on the interwebs, having not quite coincided with the advent of the digital age. It’s a precious artefact of Australiana. NH

45. The Jesus Years – Are Matthew, Mark, Luke And John (2004)

jesusyearsThis lesser-known release is all the more noteworthy for featuring members of math rock heavyweights of old Crash Of Rhinos. Are Matthew, Mark, Luke And John by The Jesus Years is a charming little record with its jangling guitars and its happy, carefree tone. We include it here as a beautiful artifact, but also an invigorating listen in its own right. NH

46. Silencio – Dead Kings (2004)

silencio Putting the ‘mental’ in instrumental, Silencio put together some of the most out-there avant-garde math-jazz-metal-core shitstorm I’ve ever heard. Wonderful orchestral elements abound their stellar album Dead Kings, as well as prolonged surges of technical genre-fluid instrumentation. This is music at it’s most unpredictable. NH

47. Chevreuil – Capcombat (2004)

chevreuil The last album from French looping band Chevreuil, and also their only full length in which guitarist Tony C. (now releasing music as Percevalmusic) would play synthesizers. The saw waves added extra grit and bass to their unique approach to looping, which worked within the limitations of four Akai Headrushes sent to four different amplifiers, layering riffs that constantly became out of sync with each other and with Julien’s drumming. A true gem of polytempic yet wholly moshable music. PS

48. Bad Dudes – S/T (2005)

baddudesThe sick and twisted lovechild of The Mars Volta and HORSE The Band, Los Angeles Bad Dudes brought together an insane mix of dissonant punk and loony keys. Their self-titled debut is the best place to start in their back catalogue, now freely available on Bandcamp. A handful of the members would go on to play in the acclaimed Upsilon Acrux. This wacky project, however, remains as enigmatic as it is eccentric. NH

49. Navigations – The Green Valley (2005)

navigationsFinland trio Navigations are both unsung heroes and exemplary artisans of the math rock genre. The atmosphere in The Green Valley shifts from idyllic highs to dark, brooding and incredibly dissonant lows. The changes in mood and motif throughout this album are at times delivered smoothly and other times impetuously and furiously. The Green Valley delivers, quite simply, some of the most masterful instrumental math rock ever created. NH

50. Medications – Your Favorite People All in One Place (2005)

medicationsIn Medications, Devin Ocampo and Chad Molter bring over the intricately knotted guitar work of Faraquet an embeds it in fresh indie rock. The band’s debut full length Your Favorite People All in One Place contains some of the greatest Medications tracks: ‘Twine Time’, ‘I Am The Harvest’ and ‘Surprise!’. It’s the perfect blend of ear-hugging hooks and discordant, left-o-field song structures. NH

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