One year always feels like an arbitrary piece of time, usually one that doesn’t have a cohesive identity. 2016 does have an identity but not in a good way due to the deaths of so many phenomenal musicians and popular figures across the world.
2016 also saw a number of marvellous experimental rock bands decide to call it a day. And it seems fitting to start with a tribute to these fallen heroes before moving onto discussing who we’re excited for in 2017, the Math Rock Times’ gigs of the year, and the most important list of all: the albums of the year.
BANDS WE’VE LOST – in no particular order
Maybeshewill – a truly life-changing band, Maybeshewill were a driving force in the UK post-rock scene for many years. Their innovative combination of blistering metal riffs, soundscape ambience, crushing crescendos, electronic samples, spoken word and sampled drums made the band truly unique.
Their last show at a sold out Koko in London was something very special indeed and we’re grateful for the band for making it available for all to view here:
Key Track: He Films the Clouds pt. 2:
Key Album: I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone
Cleft – Cleft made math-rock fun. Defining themselves as “turbo-prog”, the 2-piece band will be remembered for their inspiring, tongue-in-cheek music which was both technical and filled with hooks. There will undoubtedly be a Cleft-shaped hole in the ArcTanGent lineup next year. In more positive news, Guitarist Dan Beasley has shrugged off a pesky bout of Cancer and has joined forces with Ben Forrester (Bad Grammer) and Tom Peters (Alpha Male Tea Party) to form a new band GUG. Check them out here. . Meanwhile drummer John Simm is currently touring with Blossoms, you can keep up with his projects here.
Key Track: Trapdoor
Key Album: Bosh!
Alright The Captain – AtC toured relentlessly and became one of the UK’s finest math-rock bands. We will miss their chaotic, noisy blend of math-rock with electronica and their captivating stage presences. However, 2/3rds of the band have now formed A-Tota-So who you should check out as soon as possible.
Key Track: Honey Badger
Key Album: Contact Fix
Enemies – Enemies had all the elements of a sensation math-rock band; lightning fast riffs, charmingly accessible hooks, furious moments that take your breath away and a sensitivity to warm the heart. They left us with a send-off in the form of a new album entitled Valuables and took the time to answer fans’ questions on this Reddit AMA.
Key Track: Executive Cut
Key Album: Embark, Embrace
Falls – Welsh noise-rock madmen Falls are known for their insane stage shows, blistering noisy riffs and ability to grab your attention by the balls and not let go. The UK scene will greatly miss their energy and charisma. Damn. What a horrible year it’s been.
Key Track: Get Well Soon
Key Album: Dirtbox
BANDS WE’RE EXCITED FOR IN 2017
Despite the above pessimism, the fact is that the UK math-rock scene is stronger than it’s ever been. There are more promoters and shows than ever before, ArcTanGent Festival is leading the way and going from strength to strength (closely followed by Carefully Planned (Manchester), MADE (Sheffield) and Strangeforms (Leeds) Festivals) and a there is a whole crop of bands we’re super excited to see how they develop in 2017.
Here are top four picks In no particular order:
Lambhorn – word on the street is that Lambhorn will finally release their debut album, a follow-up to 2014’s sensational Earthlight EP. Anyone who saw their performance at ArcTanGent Festival in 2015 will agree that they are definitely ones to watch.
Keep up with them on Facebook and Bandcamp
Hark released their debut album Crystalline in 2014 and it proved that noise-rock was still relevant. It was meaty, angry, intelligent and flowing all at the same time; like Mastodon when they used to be good but also with heaps of Clutch, Refused and Taint. Their new album Machinations is released on the 24th Feb and available to pre-order now from their website.
Tickets to their album launch show on the 5th March at the Old Blue Last in London are also onsale now.
Physics House Band took the math/prog/experimental world by storm with their 2013 EP Horizons / Rapture released on Blood & Biscuits. We understand that they’ve finally finished their debut full-length album which will be dropping in 2017. If you like furious, technical, jazz-rock, The Mars Volta or just twisting, flawless band jams, you should be excited about this record.
Alpha Male Tea Party – Aggressive, melodic math-rock 3-piece AMTP seem to have been around for ages. They burst onto the scene back in 2012 with the sarcastically-titled single “Depressingly Shit Lunchtime Sandwich” and have gone on to have gone on to be a pioneer in ridiculous song titles. More to the point their crunchy, mesmerising sound has earned them kudos for their music as well. Now that they have hit their Pledge target, plans are in full-swing for their third full-length album ‘HEALTH’ to be released in 2017. You can still contribute to their Pledge campaign here and keep up with their every move on Facebook.
GIGS OF THE YEAR
10. Roger Goula @ Servant Jazz Quarters, 28th July
9. Alpha Male Tea Party @ The Old Blue Last, 3rd April
8. Physics House Band @ Jebs Presents Xmas Party, Brixton Windmill, 10th December
7. Talons @ Portals Festival, Brixton Windmill, 24th July
6. At The Drive-In @ The Roundhouse, 27th March
5. Cleft @ ArcTanGent Festival (Final Ever Show), 19th August
4. Toe @ ArcTanGent Festival, 19th August
3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor @ ArcTanGent Festival, 19th August
2. Mono @ The Brixton Electric, 17th November
1. Maybeshewill @ Koko (Final Ever Show), 15th April
ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
10. Cleft - Wrong
9. Adam Betts - Collosal Squid
8. In Violet - Amber
7. He Was Eaten By Owls - Chorus 30 From Blues For The Hitchhiking Dead
6. Lite - Cubic
5. Mono - Requiem For Hell
4. Luo - Sleep Spindles
3. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool