Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Math rock is a style of noise rock that emerged in the late 1980s. It is characterised by complex, atypical rhythmic structures, stop/start dynamics and angular, dissonant riffs seen by some as mathematical in their complexity.
The style grew out of the broader noise rock scene active in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Louisville, Kentucky. The Jesus Lizard, Polvo, Fugazi, and Big Black are key influences to this genre, and the Slint LP Spiderland was a catalyst in jumpstarting this genre. Bastro , however, predates this.
Perhaps the most defining example of the sound, and the one most deserving of the mathematical allusion, is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, four-piece Don Caballero, who successfully blended heavy noise rock sounds with notable avant-garde jazz influences.
Craw offered a more metal-edged version of the sound, while also incorporating influences from early-20th century Modernist composers. The Turing Machine blended the style with electronic deconstruction and loops.
The sub-sub-genre of math metal has been cited by some, including a member of Mudvayne, who reportedly coined the term. While similar to math rock, math metal typically features more overt heavy metal influence and trappings. The band System of a Down has also been known to incorporate elements of math metal into their music. Dillinger Escape Plan's Calculating Infinity released in 1999 was marketed as "math metal" and has a math-related title.
By the turn of the 21st century, the genre had, like most musical movements identified in the ever-shifting and elusive underground rock scene, been roundly disavowed by any band labeled with the 'math rock' moniker. However, the influences of the movement can clearly be heard in the abiding avant-garde and indie rock scenes.
Examples of this genre can be found at epitonic.com.
See also the Everything2 Math Rock node for more examples.
- Aphex Twin
- Sour Yellow Sounds
- Clifford Gilberto Rhythm Combination
- Brian Eno
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