Monday, December 31, 2007
The avalanche of quality math rock continues. I’ve never encountered an incompetent math rock band—some have clearly mastered more advanced math than others, but none have out-and-out sucked. Maybe all the potentially lame bands realize they won’t cut the mustard before they commit their naïve arithmetic to tape and embarrass themselves. Releases like this can provoke that kind of harsh self-contemplation. Planets are a number-crunching duo from Napa, California. Paul Slack handles bass, while Thomas Crawford covers “not bass,” which must equate to at least drums and guitar, based on what I hear here. I’d be interested to find out how the two of them wrote and recorded this stuff because the guitar is tightly interwoven with the rhythm section. If it was overdubbed onto bass/drum jams, it’s impressively executed. Most of the songs are the kind of skittering riff farms to which any fan of Dysrhythmia, Upsilon Acrux or Ahleuchatistas would be attuned. If I can pick out any distinguishing attribute amidst their undeniably excellent musical execution, it’s their commitment to rocking out. They’re not afraid to linger on a particularly blistering riff for a few seconds, or ride a groove for a couple minutes (as on “Return of a Dead Man”). The sound is suitably chunky as well. Rest assured, Planets will scramble your synapses (12 varied, intense tracks over 25 minutes will do that), but on a number like “Exercise!” they show they can write a tune you have a hope of recognizing on your second or third listen. The disc comes sewn inside a cloth pouch, so have scissors and a clean pant leg (to wipe the lint off the playing surface) handy if you get yourself a copy. The music’s well worth the extra prep.