ProgDay 2016

Bubblemath photo
Bubblemath

Radical yet refined composer and songwriter Frank Zappa once remarked, "Progress is not possible without deviation,” and if he were alive to hear them, he’d almost certainly agree that Minnesota fivesome BUBBLEMATH exudes his philosophy (and daring spirit) with every unconventional rhythmic change, off-the-wall timbre, and multilayered melody. Like 2002’s debut LP, Such Fine Particles of the Universe, the band’s long-awaited second sum, Edit Peptide, equates to a masterful medley of artful aural arithmetic. Blending the in-your-face intricacy of Between the Buried and Me and The Mars Volta with the eccentric experimentation of Mr. Bungle, the dense and poppy harmonies of Umphrey’s McGee and Echolyn, the symphonic vibrancy and tongue-in-cheek foundation of Beardfish, and the forceful fluidity of Bent Knee, The Dear Hunter, and Emanuel and the Fear, BUBBLEMATH ensures that the sequence builds upon itself with enough intriguing discipline to make Fibonacci proud (you know, if he listened to this kind of thing).

The current BUBBLEMATH line-up came together in 1998. Naturally, they recognize that having so many years between albums could be — as Esbensen jokes — “[an] advantage or a detriment. Maybe both!” He reflects that the group originally thought it’d be “a breeze” to follow-up Such Fine Particles of the Universe, an album that won them 86,000 MySpace followers and Minnesota Music Academy’s "2002 Best Eclectic Recording” award. However, a series of setbacks, ranging from "broken equipment, to broken promises, to loss of funding, to loss of partners and pets and parents, to incompatible mix engineers, to extended sabbaticals, to extended medical emergencies," made it difficult to accomplish that ambition. Add in the fact that "for several years, [they] were only able to commit about three hours a week to working on the album," as well as various issues regarding engineers and recording quality, and it's easy to see why Edit Peptide gestated for so long. In reaction to the skepticism of devotees, Esbensen jovially declares, "We absolutely weren't crying wolf! We wouldn't wish this kind of delay experience on our worst bandenemies. Not that we have band-enemies. But if we did, we would not wish it on them!" Ultimately, the lengthy hiatus did prove positive, though, as it allowed "all five of [them] to become better musicians" who are capable of yielding a more striving, unpredictable, and colorful collection. They couldn't be
prouder of it.

Bubblemath at ProgDay 2003
Bubblemath at ProgDay 2003

Cleverness has always been a cutting part of the BUBBLEMATH brand, and Edit Peptide keeps the blade sharp. Just as their moniker “is a tip of the hat to the branch of physics that deals with the mathematics being the surface tension of bubbles,” the name of the LP “relates to the idea that music and ideas can modify body chemistry through emotion.” Esbensen adds, “We like the name because we have a penchant for chemistry and physics . . .also, it’s a palindrome, which ties into our penchant for recursion and wordplay.”

It's not often that a band releases a new album after such a long hiatus, let alone something that exceeds expectations beyond fans’ wildest dream. Somehow, though, BUBBLEMATH has done just that with Edit Peptide. By conducting so many divergent styles, refining their songwriting and compositional skills, and most of all, sticking to their guns when it comes to crafting highly challenging and adventurous, but also quite hypnotic and welcoming, tunes, the quintet proves just how perfectly a band can fuse the familiar and the fresh. As rewarding as any record by any of the aforementioned analogous acts, Edit Peptide also stands as its own idiosyncratic statement of purpose and possibility, making it an invaluable tool to conquer both the stagnancy of mainstream music and the absurdity of the world around us.

Bubblemath photo
Top of page Bubblemath photo by Mike Ross

On The Web:

Bubblemath Official Web Site
Bubblemath on Cuneiform Records
Bubblemath on Facebook

Music To Check Out:

from Edit Peptide (2017):
"The Sensual Con"


To hear music from all of this year's bands,
please visit the MUSIC page.

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THE BAND
slideshow

KAI ESBENSEN
(Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals)

JAMES FLAGG
(Drums, Vocals)

JOHN SMITH
(Guitar, Vocals)

BLAKE ALBINSON
(Guitar, Keyboards)

JAY BURRIT
(Bass)

THE MUSIC
Edit Peptide cover

Edit Peptide (2017)

First Album cover

Such Fine Particles Of The Universe (2002)

THE WORD

"There is nothing in today's landscape that even vaguely resembles Bubblemath. Their frenetic cutting and sewing could perhaps find a parallel in Mike Keneally's early works, but the warped sounds... are absolutely unique. The constant and frantic trajectory changes are combined with lyrics that are once again steeped in irony and wordplay, as if to refute those who argue that progressive rock is a music that takes itself too seriously... Edit Peptide is the definitive math rock album, an avant synthesis of prog rock that comes straight from the future...This is music that, quite simply (well, complicatedly), pushes the limits in the frantic search for something new. In two words: this is "progressive rock" in its fullest sense."
-Lorenzo Barbagli,
ALTPROGCORE

"Yes boys and girls, at long last we have a band that is determined to keep the name "Cardiacs" alive and kicking.."
-Kev Rowland,
PROGARCHIVES

"...a fearlessness overtakes the compositions and playing... unique harmonies, imaginative soundscapes and stylistic collisions that in any other hands would sound clumsy... but instead accentuate Bubblemath’s particular genius.'"
- Jed Beaudoin,
POPMATTERS

"...this set of intellectual compositions might burn a fuse or two in your brain ...prog done right, and giving back the literal epithet of the genre."
- Daev Tremblay,
CAN THIS EVEN BE CALLED MUSIC