Few genre names sell their sound quicker and more accurately than math rock. The constantly shifting time signatures, offset polyrhythms and syncopated note placement are at the heart of the genre.
The genre’s interdisciplinary nature carefully formulates elements from noise rock, no-wave, avant-garde jazz, and progressive rock into one feverishly eclectic, but brainy sound. Add all this up and you have a sound that’s tough to solve for X – for execution – if 4/4 timing is the safe shoreline you prefer to strum your ukulele on.
Among the mountain of math rock lies an excellent song with a bombastic and lengthy title: “Kisses Men on the Mouth on the Mountain.” The track was released as part of Breadwinner’s 1994 album Burner.
“Kisses” invokes the contemporary big city youth culture. The punk drums, viciously beaten by Chris Farmer, accompanied by rising and descending bass and guitar riffs, provided by Robert Donne and Pen Rollings respectively, exude skate park rambunctiousness.
Unlike its title, “Kisses” is short, but Burner is loaded with short songs. The longest track is a mere three minutes and 21 seconds. “Exploder,” afraid to wear out its welcome, lasts a measly 25 seconds.
The bass and lead guitar are often in-sync with one-another climbing the same scales simultaneously. With this, the song produces a thick sound that relies heavily on the drums for balance: there are only two different melodies active for much of the song’s duration.
“Kisses” is a capricious, stop-and-go track that hops from rhythm to rhythm while remaining close to its core structure and sound. The song seamlessly flips between being frantic and stressed to being steadily paced and mid-tempo – all while maintaining a disjointed feel throughout.
It’s a solid math rock track from a solid math rock album. “Kisses” is a thrilling synthesis of left brain and right brain. I found this track about a week after taking a gamble on Yona-Kit’s self-titled album and found Burner and Yona-Kit to be excellent introductions into the math rock world. If you want a heavier metal configuration of the two, I encourage you to check out Blotted Science.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.