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Friday, August 6, 2010


Posted by on Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Here you go Mr. Brizzby. The genesis of contemporary Math Rock.

Pen Rollins, Lurch and "that's the drummer? Holy shit he's fast."...from Richmond, VA, 1991. Their records were on Merge. Live they'd play faster, it was quite amazing, and kinda hard to keep up. No one played prog like this before Breadwinner.


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Surely the genesis of contemporary math rock lies with King Crimson from a decade earlier than Breadwinner.
Posted by philaros on August 6, 2010 at 10:26 PM · Report this
J. Burns 2
Breadwinner were among the first bands to marry an indie/punk aesthetic to prog. Yeah, there were prog bands before Breadwinner, there were prog bands before King Crimson, too.

Pen Rollings is a certified badass.
Posted by J. Burns on August 7, 2010 at 12:48 AM · Report this
nipper 3
@1 - King Crimson would be two decades plus prior, and you could only get a Breadwinner types weirdness by playing your KC LPS @ 45. And then it'd be only for a second. Breadwinner (and Butterglove, but not to Breadwinner's extreme) was first to bring Math Rock (prog by every other name) into a contemorary focus...1990 was not exactly groud zero for any "maturation" of '70s prog (unless you could Soundgarden's wholesale assimilation of Deep Purple MKII...heh heh).
Posted by nipper on August 7, 2010 at 9:44 AM · Report this
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I'm specifically referencing the "Discipline"-era lineup (1981-1984) of King Crimson for a reason: that's when they'd integrated the kind of complex polyrhythmic sound that I think of as math rock, distinct from earlier prog. Maybe Breadwinner played faster and punkier—I'd never heard of them before this post, so I can't really speak to any of that—but from the sound of these two clips, yeah, there's a connection back to the '80s King Crimson, or even back to KC's 1974 album Red.
Posted by philaros on August 7, 2010 at 4:37 PM · Report this
Segal 6
I thought Hampton Grease Band pioneered math rock on their Music to Eat LP. Or maybe it was Beefheart's Magic Band with Trout Mask Replica.
Posted by Segal on August 7, 2010 at 7:05 PM · Report this
nipper 7
@5 Ah, I dig. In terms of hearing KC as an influence Red would have had more impact, obvs, cause at the end of the '80s no one who would have made Math Rock listened to '80s KC. '80s KC was too contemporary pop sounding, inovative or was not raw enough to be engaging (I still can't stomach it). Dunno if Pen was listening to any of that (Pre Breadwinner/Butterglove) Honor Role after '86 began leaning towards the math like syncopation. However, all the early KC LPs were reissued on EG (I think) in the '80s, but Red was MIA from that lot...or maybe I just never saw it. In fact, Red is still a hard KC LP to find on LP...and 1990 was pre internet and all blah blah blah, so there was a lot of work to suss out things we now consider rote. I guess he could have had the CD, but post hardcore kids/indie nerds in their early 20s didnt have $$$ for CDs, we all bought records. CDs were for people that shopped at the mall. I personally think it's just how Pen played, his evolution, he moved from riffs to playing fingered lines/made up chords, some people just would rather count to seven with three fingers than four.

@ 6 Dave, in regards to Breadwinner...well, and the rest of pop/rock music, no one had heard that Hampton Grease Band record. NOW we (ahem, us music nerds) all know it, but that record was unkown even when it came out (stock copies exist but it's been rumored less than 200 were sold). You could argue it as being a hindsight grandpa to Math Rock, but in terms of 1990 I'd reckon HGB was moot. I've never considerd HGB or TMR as math rock...more blues based art rock than rigid geometry, to my ears.

I consider Math Rock, like "Stoner Rock," a specific '90s and beyond thing...or term, hence my use of "contemporary." Breadwinner made the ex hardcore kids/indie nerds, who immediately started playing Math Rock after hearing Breadwinner, extremely aware of prog...only after did it make more sense to go back and listen to prog. There was still a sense of revolution in the underground at the time, pre Nirvana and all prog was still hated as studied, mullet having bro, '70s rock and roll bullshit.
Posted by nipper on August 8, 2010 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Well, being from Richmond and watching the Breadwinner phenomena culminate and knowing Penn Rollings, I'll say this....he aware of King Crimson but I can honestly say that they had little effect on Breadwinner. He told me his favortie bands at the time were using telecatsters and loved their sound and the range you can from them, one band in particular was SLINT. He loved them, he was also a fan of Big Black/Rapeman. I see more similarities from those bands than I do KCin terms of tone and sound. Now also important to know is the drummer, seth harris, who was a very good friend of Penn;s before he played with him. He came from a very Metal background, one of the few people I know who was actually listening to Death Metal along with his little brother Sean whom Penn played with in Butterglove, long before it gained popularity. Both of those guys had an influence on Penn by some small measure. One thing to note about Penn's playing and songwriting....he doesn't plan or visualize a concept for a band, he loved to jam, I mean he is probably the only musician I know who could literally jam for 6 hours straight. Bascially that is how butterglove got started. Breadwinner became a natural extension of that but him expanding on the telecaster sound, if any vision was involved it find his nexus for the telecaster.
Posted by Ray Gunn on August 10, 2010 at 3:14 PM · Report this

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