Clean Equations “People / Variables” (State Capital Records, 2010)
Al Jarreau, Al Jazeera or Algebra?
'Clean Equations' share a couple of strands of DNA with the Broken Social Scene, there’s a large number of band members (CE=12) and they also have a similar freewheeling approach as to what constitutes modern rock music. On ‘Sunday Night Maybe’s’ CE almost = BSS with guitars squirting off in all directions like rats abandoning a suddenly exposed nest, it has a synthesised core, a battery of vocalists and a grasp of melody.
When the percussion takes hold for ‘Haitian Noise Piece’ they do still resemble the Montreal collective in that they are quite happy to vandalise their own music in an attempt to keep it interesting.
CE are good when they move into languid space rock mode, ‘Buried Translations’ is a fine piece of work, rippling and pulsing guitars clash and splash and crosshatch whilst repeated vocals give the whole thing a centre, a cavalcade of strings arrives and the two streams merge into a fluid melodic wave until the strings have a tantrum and the vocals return to their mantra. It’s refreshing that CE have more than one musical formula ‘City Girls Try’ = Bright Eyes + piano and ‘Christmas Days divides Explosions in the Sky by Yume Bitsu to discover the square root of space rock.
With a name like Clean Equations you’ve got to expect some Math rock and though there’s nothing that’s wholly algebraic they do run the numbers through some songs ‘ On the US Treasury’ benefits from some deft musical calculus and the opening ‘People/Variables’ moves in some pretty precise patterns. It’s the kind of music that reveals itself slowly little rock pools of melody get left behind in your brain by the musical tide, where you can hear the melodies scuttle out and withdraw. These Philadelphians = a good time.
Date review added: Friday, August 27, 2010
Reviewer: David Cowling
Related web link: Do it clean