Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bygones - "Click on That (Smash the Plastic Death)"

Click on That (Smash the Plastic Death)

Here goes my first foray into writing about something (kinda) new: the Bygones album that I just acquired a few weeks ago, though I'd listened to it online some last summer. Or was that the summer before last?

Bygones is the duo of Zach Hill, the drummer of gold-standard instrumental math rock band Hella, and Nick Reinhart, the guitarist of Tera Melos, a band at the center of what I gather is a thriving scene of music like this Sacramento. Both Hella and TM make non-music-school prog rock, with "pop" belonging somewhere in the genre description of the latter. This side project is what you expect from this background, but so far I like it more than anything I've heard from Reinhart's main band and almost as much as the great works of Hella -- who supposedly will release a new album in classic duo format some time later this year.

The song I'm sharing here has been stuck in my head for days, and this album is particularly good at demonstrating that the point of writing dense music with oddly timed changes doesn't have to be denying the listener the joy of hummable hooks. In keeping with this sentiment, Hill actively sublimates his famously IDM-level virtuosic beat chops (cf. this or anything else on youtube from the Hella Japan tour DVD) to verses, choruses, and bridges. This isn't to say that these guys are just trying their hands at writing pop songs. Hill's busy toms pepper the parts with unexpected accents, and the hummable riffs and progressions rarely conform to a straight metrical pattern. Obviously I don't know anything about how these guys write their parts, but I'm happy to think they share an idea I've had (Jake Anodide gets partial credit for this one): that odd time signatures should be the result of feeling out how long a phrase wants to be, then refraining from putting an extra chugga or pause to make the meter even. This rather than writing a phrase and then dropping or adding a beat simply to translate it from regular rock into math rock.

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