Calculating Music with Local "Math Rock" Band Things Amazing

Most students dislike learning formulae and theorems, but what about listening to math rock? While perusing Bandcamp (a website for artists to share their music) a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon the page of an Atlanta math rock band, Things Amazing. After researching the local math rock music more, we found that Things Amazing almost solely represents the local math rock scene. We met with the band’s guitarists and discussed their influences and the origin of their style.

Quick calculations:

Math Rock generally involves very fast and intricate guitar playing, making it a genre less approached by musicians. “The complexity is the best part of the music. It’s always evolving and changing.” said math teacher and Math Rock listener Mr. Young.

Photo by Alex Kalman

Math rock tends to be a lesser known subgenre of progressive indie rock that focuses on atypical rhythmic structures, odd time signatures, angular melodies, and dissonant chords (hence the reference to math). “I like how complex the music structure is...the guitar riffs build off each other well” commented junior Landon Tubesing. Math rock has only been around for about 20 years, and was part of the same alternative rock counterculture that struck in the 1990’s. Things Amazing adopts many of the classic sounds of the movement in their music, and they implement it well, both in studio and on stage. The music starts and stops randomly, battling guitars swirl in every track, and the drums seem to hit sporadically, despite providing a methodical bottom-end to the music. Many math rock bands do not include a bassist, but Things Amazing’s session bassist, Willard Turner, adds even more depth and complexity to their sound. “To be good at math rock, you’ve either got to be a tapping wizard or a pedal god…” said guitarist Yasin Knapp.

Photo Courtesy Things Amazing Bandcamp Page

Describing the sound of math rock can be difficult, but it can be easily compared to metal (Only without screaming guitars and angry vocals). Some notable Math Rock musicians include CHON, Battles, Rodan, Hella, and Sleepy Dog. The genre relies on adept guitar techniques, including alternate picking styles (such as tapping) and chaining multiple guitar pedal effects together to craft a dreamy, cacophonous sound. One of Things Amazings’ songs “No Traction,” has a large focus on quick guitar tapping and intertwined bass and drums percussion, which equates to a warm melodic and complex sounding piece of music, perfect for listening to casually or heard in the background. We highly recommend that you listen to Things Amazing at their Bandcamp page; through Bandcamp, Things Amazing has their music for free (Including their new album Good Things) for any listener to download, or $5 for a cassette.

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