Math rock giants, Memory Of Elephants, have been bulldozing their way through the Bristol scene for sometime. They’re a band I’ve never seen live but I’ve heard an awful lot about – this will soon change as I’m due to see them perform at Rough Trade for their album launch. I couldn’t have picked a more fitting time to see them if I tried. Their debut is a genre-bending trip which is filled with mighty twists and turns, along with a few shredding riffs here and there. Oh yeah, and their song titles are pretty hilarious too.
The eight track album begins with an ominous jangle of guitars which is teetering on Sonic Youth territory. A visceral track which features some gravelly guitar riffs which are reminiscent of something of a Nirvana album. There’s plenty of fuzz which’ll make your earbuds tingle, ‘Psychological Extras’ is static and grungy opening track which will have you in a trance for days. There’s some serious No Violet vibes oozing off of this one.
Without any warning I am then thrust into an epic eight minute tune, jumping straight out of the gates with a gutsy riff and leaving me jerking my head in time to the beat – or so I thought I was in time with the beat. ‘Teflon Wombat’ was like the soundtrack of a video game, quickly picking up tempo around the 2 minute mark, I was racing through the levels before getting to the final boss. There are plenty of obstacles in my way before I reach the final boss, including unfathomable time signatures and throbbing bass lines which make for a massive soundscape. I have reached the end of the level and defeated the game, the celebration is a fuzzy dream, the credits roll and I have beaten the high score. Seamlessly this then leads into ‘I Just Karate Shit My Pants’, it feels like an extension of the previous track but nonetheless has some shimmering guitar riffs and reeks of a vintage Atari soundtrack.
Stand out track ‘Sex In Sevens’ threw me off guard, math rock is definitely known by its unpredictability, however a dainty piano track with highlights of violins is something I did not see coming. A powerful and epic number with flourishes of sombre riffs which gave off a Go Go Penguin vibe. The ending is as grandiose as The Beatles’ epic ‘A Day In The Life’, it was a delight to hear math rock being explored in this context. Memory Of Elephants have rewritten the rulebook.
Memory Of Elephants are masters of their craft, I still can’t quite believe there’s only 3 of them in the band. The final track on the album almost reaches the eleven minute mark, ‘Tiles, You’re Dead’ in unlike anything I’ve experienced. The tempo is tangible and quickly zooms in speed, I can only best describe it as when you fast forward a cassette tape and the entire thing speeds up. It was both tense and mystical, Memory Of Elephants a fine example of the booming math rock scene here in Bristol.
Beachballin’ is an eight track odyssey which will be released on April 19th. Memory Of Elephants will be playing at Rough Trade on the same day as the release date. Be sure to grab a ticket for the hottest math rock gig of the year, no seriously, if the weather stays the way it’s going it will be a scorcher.