The music festival component of SXSW kicks off this evening and, once again, I am not there. Maybe next year. This festival features a ton of great live music. The shear number of bands is overwhelming (many of which, you can stream and download from the SXSW website). Thankfully, my favorite sources of music, KCRW and RCRDLBL_ pick out some of the best acts for me.
One band, Black Math Horsemen, was recently featured on RCRDLBL_. They get docked a point for starting their band name with the all to common ‘Black’, but instantly make up for it by following that up with “Math”. “Horseman” hints to what kind of music they make. It’s tough to describe, but ‘apocalyptic’ seems to fit. It’s definitely dark (black is a bit of an over-sell), dramatic, and desperate with just a bit of a psychedelic feel. The song structures and drumming are progressive, the bass guitar riffs long and melodic, and the multilayered electric guitars alternate between melodic and rocking but always with an atmospheric feel. Distant, often detached vocals emerge from behind the music instead of being front and center; a feature I definitely appreciate.
The two songs below are well-composed and very well produced. I suspect many people will find them inaccessible. There aren’t any repetitive hooks or danceable rhythms that grab you and make them memorable. Their appeal comes from a sense of mystery and the intellectual challenge their songs create. I like them because they are easy to space out to even (especially!) when played loud. They might not be for everybody, but I certainly enjoy them. I hope you do as well.