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The Physics House Band - Metropolis CD (album) cover


The Physics House Band


Post Rock/Math rock

4.00 | 6 ratings

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4 stars The Physics House Band is a math rock band that is obviously flying under the radar of complex, progressive music lovers everywhere. I ran across them by accident and didn't think much about them until I was reviewing new releases a few days ago. The band formed back in 2011, releasing rather short albums here and there that have been labeled as experimental, but that might be a bit misleading except for the fact that they are pushing the boundaries of math rock into some exciting territory. They have also worked and toured with great bands like 'Jaga Jazzist' and '65daysofstatic', other innovators in their genre just like they are.

I usually don't get that excited about live albums, let alone consider them for one of the best of the year, but 'Metropolis' is definitely one that is in the running. The albums the band has released in the past have been short. This live album, recorded before a small invited audience at Metropolis Studios in London, is an exception to this as it runs a hefty 50 minutes (hefty in comparison to their albums that typically don't even reach 30 minutes). This allows the listener to more fully experience their sound, which is surprisingly varied and almost always complex. But the dynamics and mood changes are awesome.

Except for one minor flaw, the track placement is perfect. Most of the first half consists of more involved works that are longer. Tracks 1, 3 and 4 make up the three parts of what is called Death Sequence'. They all come from the EP of the same name. These are dark and somewhat sinister tracks that are quite obviously tied together, and give the listener insight into how dark and complex the band's music can be. Stuck in the middle of these (track 2) is the much happier and infectious 'Calypso' which comes from the album 'Mercury Fountain'. This is an excellent track, however, it is totally out of place stuck in the middle of the dark trilogy. That is the one slight drawback of the album, but, its quite minor. Track 5, on the other hand, is much better placed after the Death Sequence final part, this track being the melding of 'Holy Caves/Surrogate Head', which is a definite, hard and heavy epic track at 12 minutes, and consists of some amazing improvisation that can remind one of some excellent space rock style jamming which often gets overtaken by the sprawling sax solos that almost seem violent.

The rest of the album consists of shorter tracks that mostly come from 'Mercury Fountain' (except for track 7 which comes from the album 'Horizons/Rapture'). The aforementioned track 'Calypso' would have fit better in this part of the album. 'ObeliskMonolith' is a complex and somewhat noise affair at the onset, but it later calms down halfway through, but finishes in the same manner that it begins. 'Obidant' is more atmospheric and ventured into avant territory as it slides mysteriously along, but suddenly explodes into complexity later on. 'Impolex' carries on almost seamlessly from the previous track, synths becoming a bit more evident now, and the somewhat organized structure that is introduced soon gets swirled into the whirlwind that is created. There is another instance of spacey guitar that takes the track into drone territory as the instruments echo into oblivion. A sudden interruption takes the listener into the quiet pensiveness of 'The Astral Wave' which sounds much more acoustic with soft guitar, piano and chimes effects. The track shimmers along, cooling down the wild atmosphere from before. Then the drums bring in a nice but fuzzy part led by the guitar, and intensity quickly builds to a heavy ending. It all ends with a short 'Mobius Strip II' which pretty much summarizes everything.

This album is quite an amazing display of this talented band showing their wide range of style, which is in and of itself, quite surprising for a math rock band. Overall, it can seem to consist of two parts, the darker first half and the more free-wheeling, heavy complexities of the 2nd half. All the way through this album, the bass stands out quite heavily, and that is another thing that keeps this album engaging. The sax is present almost all the way through, but it finds itself meshed in with the other sounds and wildness that is going on. Most listeners will not even notice this album is live as the audience sounds are cut right out, but there is a bit of a 'off-the-cuff' sound to it all so you know that there are no overdubs, but that this tight and talented band can produce this music on the spot. The band obviously thrives in a live environment, and this album is more of a sizeable helping of their style, and you definitely feel satisfied by the end of the album. Those that love math rock or any kind of progressive music that pushes the boundaries of that genre will love this album and it will probably appeal to lovers of fusion. Also, any lover of heavy bass will want to listen to this album. Excellent, quirky, tight and engaging, this 50 minutes will still be over before you know it. 4 1/2 stars (rounded down to 4).

TCat | 4/5 |


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