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When the genre Math Rock is discussed, or someone asks “What is this Math Rock stuff? Can you give me some bands to check out?” almost every Math-iphile (word I just made up for math-rocker) will mention one specific band in particular: a band called Piglet. Seldom is Math Rock discussed without mentioning Piglet, a 3-piece group from Chicago, whose existence was very short-lived. The band consisted of members Asher (Guitar), Ezra (Bass), and Matt (Drums). Forming in 2002 and disbanding after their first (and final) release entitled "Lava Land", this EP consisted of 6 tracks that would go on to be, arguably, one of the most iconic musical releases in the genre of Math Rock.

"Lava Land" offers all of the key elements you would expect from a math rock band, but I personally always found Piglet’s sound to have a unique charm about it that many other bands cannot compete with. To me, “Lava Land” has never gotten old. I first heard it many years ago and it still feels fresh today. It continues to impress me with each listen. With beautiful and catchy melodies finger-tapped on guitar and bass in unison along with jazzy and creative drumming, the three members effortlessly create a sound on this EP that feels so organized, cohesive, and just damn good. On each track, no instrument feels as though it is left in the background or overshadowed by the other two. They all stand on their own to bring you awesome instrumental rock that doesn’t even feel instrumental; the instruments all sing in harmony with one another and join together to bring us an amazing 25 minutes of pure technicality and fantastic musicianship. For me, it is truly a timeless classic that almost a decade since its release, has not aged a day.

Piglet is one of those bands who many future math rock bands wanted to be and were heavily influenced by. Even today with many new math rock bands forming, many cite Piglet as an influence. One in particular being the band Weye, naming one of their songs "We Miss You Piglet" as homage to the Chicago power trio. Like the members of Weye, fans far and wide have grieved over Piglet’s short lifespan; especially when the band seemed to be at the top of their game with “Lava Land” being prime evidence of this fact. The reason for their breakup was left unknown to fans and many longed for the band’s members to return to the fictional, mathematical, world of Lava Land to bring us all the new material we were all dreamed of. In 2013, fans rejoiced as the band seemed to become active on Facebook and launched a Kickstarter campaign to re-release “Lava Land” on vinyl along with an early demo tape, and other unreleased material. With the help of their fans, the band surpassed their $5000 dollar goal and released all of the aforementioned material. It was an exciting day for math rock fans everywhere. As I write this, side B of my copy “Lava Land” on vinyl is nearing its end. But what else can we expect from Piglet in the coming years? We have contacted Ezra Zera, the former bassist and sent some interview questions for him.


TMRB: How was Piglet formed?

E: Generally speaking, Asher and Matt were already playing in a band called Seyarse when I met them. Asher and I went to the same high school and had some shared musical interests, so we set up a time to play and enjoyed working together. The rest is history.

TMRB: Your music has been praised highly for its composition and technicality. What were your musical influences collectively as a group and what drove you all to create such progressive songs together?

E: It’s hard to say definitively. We each listened to such a broad variety of music. As far as the instrumental rock vibe goes, we were definitely listening to Don Cab’s album “American Don”, Hella’s album “Hold Your Horse Is”, and the Bad Plus album “Give”. On the other side of the spectrum, Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” got a lot of play. I don’t think our songs were that progressive… I would say a lack of true compositional understanding and slapping riffs together worked to our advantage. We just wanted to make songs that were fun to play.

TMRB: I know it’s been quite a while, but could you perhaps breakdown your songwriting process of the time and your experiences in recording “Lava Land”?

E: Yeah, it’s been a decade. We recorded riffs for each other and would bring them to the shed a couple days a week for band practice. It was a collaborative venture. Usually one person came up with an idea and the other two would creatively respond to the music in the moment. Over time we would gradually arrive at something that could pass for a song. With lava land, it was more about riffs, but as we developed as a band, specifically with the music that’s now available on the SONGS EP, we started going for a more compositional approach, with recurring motifs and musical themes. As far as interpersonal dynamics go, there was always some creative tension but we got along pretty well overall.

TMRB: A lot of people have discovered the band’s work long after the group disbanded and because of this, many of us fans would constantly ask ourselves “Why on earth did these guys not make more music? And what made them stop?” Even a small math rock band named Weye has a song entitled “We Miss You Piglet”. I’m sure many of our readers would like to know: what led to the group’s breakup?

E: Sorry to disappoint you but the breakup was nothing special. I was barely 20 when we played our last show. We didn’t even really break up, things just kind of drifted apart. If we had a big fan base at the time I don’t think we would have broken up, but the way it seems to me in hindsight, it’s like we were just kids playing in a garage band. The fans we did have were super cool and devoted, but there weren’t many, and after a while there just wasn’t enough of an audience interest to sustain the intense level of devotion required to keep a band like Piglet going.

TMRB: Many argue that Piglet is/was one of the most influential groups in the resurgence of instrumental math rock in recent years. First off, what do you all think of the term “math rock” and do you guys consider Piglet a math rock group? Second, when writing these songs and playing shows, did you ever think that the music you were creating would create such great of an impact on the math rock/experimental music scene?

E: I would say the “math rock” label is just as valid or invalid as any other music genre, but it’s not really important to us. We definitely fit in to what people are referring to when they use that phrase, and the expression was already in circulation while we were a band, but I don’t think we ever explicitly called ourselves a math rock band. The expression “Chicago instrumental band” was more common for us. To answer the second question, no, we became more popular after we broke up so we definitely didn’t foresee any kind of lasting impression on the community at large. 

TMRB: With the band not having any activity after the breakup, what led to the sudden re-emergence of the band ‘s presence, particularly online with the Facebook page, and then the Kickstarter campaign that launched very recently to press “Lava Land” on vinyl along with demo recordings and previously unreleased material being sold on CD along with other goodies?

E: After a few years of steady email feedback from fans, we noticed there were many requests for lava land on vinyl. We were curious whether there was enough demand to fund the pressing of the album, and sure enough there was, so we just went for it. Records have been flying off the shelves so fast we can hardly keep up with the packaging and shipping process. We’re having to do it in 45 batch instalments to avoid getting overwhelmed. It’s been a lot of work but I’m happy we followed through with it. 

TMRB: This may be a stretch, but after many your fans have obsessively watching those few live videos of the band, is there any chance of a reunion? Would you guys ever see that being a possibility?

E: Anything’s possible.

TMRB: Finally, what are you all up to musically these days?

E: We all still play music but none of us are in a touring band right now. I’ve been developing something called the Tone Color Alchemy project for the past six years. It’s a pretty far out experiment in musical cryptography. I’ve just finished writing a full length book that’s due for release on the Sync Book Press sometime this spring. I have also written a lot of singer-songwriter bedroom tracks that are floating around on the internet somewhere, but nothing that I would feel compelled to promote. Thanks for your interest.

Be sure to visit to stream and purchase Piglet’s entire discography as well as purchase posters as well as “Lava Land” on vinyl (when available).

Also visit for more info.

Interview and Retrospective Article by Gary | Co-Founder


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Review - Hannibal Montana - 28-20 EP

Cannibalistic tween-pop star puns aside (I’m sure they’ve heard it all by now), Hannibal Montana’s third release, an EP following on the tails of two full length efforts, is this New York mathy post-rock trio’s most mature collection to date. 28-20 finds the group taking their genre-bending instrumental style to a new level and stands to distinguish them from their peers. What makes this quite possibly HM’s greatest show of force thus far is that the listener is made acutely aware of these seriously good musicians’ ability to make seriously good music, without being so damn serious about it. If you love post-rock but could drop the melodrama, math rock that does more than Tasmanian-devil-spin its way through pull-off riffs, and if you don’t mind the absence of a vocalist where one isn’t necessarily needed, then your 2014 is off to a good start with 28-20. Because whether it is grinning or snarling, this EP has teeth.

No time is wasted in proving as much as the band launches headlong into their first track, which features a distinctly math rock guitar phrase which is refrained and referenced throughout the song’s progression. What really pulls this song across its substantial landscape is the jazz inflected bass, which in these and other quiet moments of repetition takes the helm and changes course with impressive subtlety and fluidity. The guitar becomes more engaged as the tune takes on a danceable beat which HM have been known to showcase without the usual traces of frivolity – Though this proves to be simply preamble for the entrance of an overdriven roar, which confirms comparisons to early Tera Melos and even hints at an affinity for the metallic. The wailing guitar in this moment acts as a vocalist might, generating a sense of desperation and upping the emotional ante. Its refrain and the following buildup are of precise character, like a robot both breaking down and discovering new uses for its fallen parts.

From this aptly placed first track we are told much about what is in store for the remainder of the nineteen-odd minute long jaunt. It may be, as the band claims, a playful record, but is simultaneously a deceptively aggressive venture. Unlike many bands which these opening phrases call to mind, HM is not satisfied with repetition and patchwork patterning alone, but instead show an ability for extended variation, punctuated by the song’s coda, one which characteristically blends a tight and rhythmically challenging progression - one of my favorite bass melodies on the record - with a droning, atmospheric guitar that does not infringe upon or threaten to dampen its value. This moment is telling, granting us an understanding of the band’s position - They could in fact continue on, allow the tune to stretch out further and explore its variations farther, but there is a victory in disallowing that potential pleasure, as that way lies equal potential for tedium.

The second track introduces us to the ebb-and-flow structure of this album. Each lengthy tune is separated from the next with a shorter track. This is a technique that has proven effective for many bands in and outside of HM’s tangential genres. Albums like Deafheaven’s Sunbather have proven this method to be effective for a larger audience, allowing listeners perhaps less in it for the time signature changes and impressive finger work the chance to breathe, and most importantly to reflect. Its as if “A Lie I Used to Tell”positions us on a high crest, and from that vantage we regard the landscape that has just been rather hastily covered, in case that during our hurried progression through it we had neglected to let it affect us while in its immediate presence. This track however is something more than a bridge from song to song, and is marked by a gentle menace of a melody, disassociated from a desperate rhythm left just outside the door.

But the door does open, and in comes careening the album’s centerpiece, “Tales From The Cryptic.” This song contains some of the most impressive moments and lofty ideas HM puts foreword, but is also made problematic by its rather incidental movement from one idea to the next. Most curious is a quasi-reggae section, situated between one of the band’s most all out driving sections and one of its most ethereal and weightless. Still, the lack of a narrative flow - which is well showcased in some other tunes - does stand to underline the band’s contempt for unneeded complacency, something that is ultimately a virtue. The back half of this track is made up of a large section defined by sonorous, pinging guitars that are as satellites in a swampy belt of space, looping through the thickly starlit blackness. The group does return in force for an energetic refrain of the song’s muscular opening, keeping the murky yet luminous middle section contained within higher walls of meaning.

“X” is the antithesis of the first short track, and begins with a all out hard rock riff, played with a tone that would not be out of place on an early QOTSA record, of all places. But HM wastes no time breaking that riff apart after merely one iteration, slashing at what might have been a song of its own until the shreds become the true form.

Keeping in line with the cyclical nature of the EP, “12 Syllables” opens just as dreamy as you like before the group introduces its most patient and toe-tapping repetition yet. The well-wrought mixture of emotive tonality with a lighthearted execution makes this final track the easiest to latch onto and enjoy. You may - like me - bemoan the brevity of this tack, but as a result may - like me - find yourself hard pressed not to go back and listen all the way through, if only to allow this last to color the rest as it has been colored in turn. In this way, 28-20 compliments itself, and what at first perhaps seemed disconnected turns enticing, as the parts prove themselves vital the whole.

The portions of this EP that really shine are those in which HM finds itself with all six feet planted firmly on the ground. Their astral ventures are pleasant, but are as leaps taken on a distant sphere – they may feel like flying, but are always accompanied by the anticipation of touchdown - that moment of attaining a grasp of real purpose as to the meaning of the voyage, and with the most capable Hannibal Montana yet in the driver’s seat, this is surely one worth taking.


Words by Nick Otte | Staff Writer

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Review - They Will Come Back For You… by Kusanagi

"Album opener ‘Spires’ forelays the progressively mathy twang that comes to define this album as it negotiates a palatable mix of time signatures before it settles into an instrumental rasp. Just when you’re comfortable, it breaks suddenly into a cleaner, distinctly math-rock, frenzy that sounds like an uninhibited Antitode - era Foals. Lucid periods of droney guitar - punctuated neatly by a fixed ¾ motif - are backed by purposeful drum and bass stabs that work their way toward a heavy ending section that mirrors the beginning in a satisfyingly cyclic manner.

The precisely manufactured delay at the start of track 2 ‘What fools these mortals’, provides a brief rest before the clout reforms into thick bass and a cymbal-wash that ushers the unrelenting guitar riff to ascend with a hypnotic persistence. To finish, a distorted atonal mess bleeds into the time-twisting venture that is ‘Rhinoceros’. This album begins to take on a direction that is both refreshing musically, and indicative of the Liverpool 4 piece’s enviable grasp of genre-traversing dynamics.

As with all of the tracks on this album, this song always seems to be heading somewhere big, however equally characteristic is the way that the build-up is tauntingly prolonged until a section of unexpected calm ensues. Light cymbals path the route for incredibly strong chord progressions that are joined swiftly by an overarching melodic warmth; a tonal quality that I personally believe is this album at its best. A brief section of pinpoint tapping marks the desire line back to an almost- mathcore ending. This amalgamation of different sections is thematic of the entire album which generally feels like a collection of loosely connected ideas that somehow work as a whole, forming an infectious structural dystopia that forever leaves you guessing. This kind of unpredictability is reminiscent of Wot Gorilla?, who – with their own unique way of matching the ethereal with the raucous - are not so dissimilar in their overall feel.

By far the best track for me takes form in the tropical-pop-esque ‘Danxia’ that begins with a rolling drum intro joined by a precise, punchy guitar riff. When this theme becomes accentuated by a bass that meanders between octaves with purpose, the jazz influenced track takes on a new breathe of lung-friendly air, (think of a relaxed Suffer Like G Did without quite as much time-signature play). The interaction of the two guitars are tantamount in both virtuosity and impact as they amble slowly towards a distinctly post-rock ending section that builds with climactic intent, warranting the total time of 7+ minutes.

The penultimate track ‘One day they will come back for you’ cites a familiar chord progression packaged with driving and expansive drums and dense, sweetly reverb-laden guitars who’s composite is a frenetic energy that somehow maintains control. An always-welcome bass solo-part shifts to a spacey section of interwoven drum and bass thuds and phrases that are incredibly well written and enforced.

The album releases the accumulated tension in 2 minute closer ‘They will come back to you…’, as the unexpected dimension of a half-glitchy drum track provides the backdrop for some ambient synths to post-rock their way to the end of a thoroughly satisfying album. The ellipsis in the track title is a fitting way to underpin the sense of anticipation that amounts, as ever-differing, ever-unforeseeable sections are worked around with a unifying proficiency.”

Kusanagi Facebook | Bandcamp

Words by Jonny

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DASBOOT is the latest EP from 2-piece Manc soul-math-jazz-rockers Pedro Don Key. 

"It’s incredibly easy to blindly scream names of potential influences as soon as you press play on an EP from a band you’ve not heard before, so let’s refrain from the ‘this lot sound like You Slut!!!!’ kind of business and just pinpoint what makes this EP lovely, yeah?

The opening track, ‘KingDaveFrost’ sets a delightfully hectic tone. Downtuned guitars, catchy little guitar sections, and crazy time signatures (would you believe?) feature heavily, achieving a powerful effect. The playful and scary dissonance carries through to the rest of the EP. My favourite track is ‘HiFiDad’, where there are sections that sound sparse, but in a way that reminds you that you’re only listening to two people perform. And this is interspersed with some memorable and uniquely phrased guitar, drums that are even crazy by the standards of math, and just general pengness. Three really nice tracks. And if you need a little more convincing to download this EP, then remember that its price is just a donation- which can be nothing, if you prefer. (Think In Rainbows, it’s essentially free, but hey, you can alternatively download it for real life money and then boast to your friends about how you paid for it.)
You should definitely download it either way.”
- Words by Andrew King

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Six Hands are a Belgian instrumental trio doing good things. This song, Primavera will be released on a compilation on their label I See Clouds, a DIY Collective, later this march. 

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Right, first post of 2014. Iran Iran ”diligently providing aural filth via a spectrum of frequencies and time signatures” as they so eloquently put it.

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