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Bubblemath - Edit Peptide CD (album) cover



Eclectic Prog

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kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
5 stars

According to the label, Bubblemath are an Eclectic Prog / Avant-Pop / Technical Metal Quintet, while Prog Archives simply call them "eclectic". In my humble opinion, they're both correct, and wrong. When I put this on the player I knew immediately what this style of music was, namely "pronk". Yes boy and girls, at long last we have a band that is determined to keep the name "Cardiacs" alive and kicking. A mere short fifteen years since the debut, the line-up (who got together in 1998) is still the same, they just had a small issues getting this finished. I'm sure they haven't' been recording full-time for the last fifteen years, but there are times when the listener wonders how on earth they managed to move from point A to point B in a song, as this is complex, tight, and completely off the wall.

Don't try to work out what time signature a certain piece of a song may be in, or what chord structure they are using, and instead just relish the total insanity and musical chaos of what is going on. They use a (fairly) straightforward musical line-up, just use the instruments in somewhat unusual manners. The quintet is Blake Albinson (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, nylon string guitar, keyboards, tenor sax, vocals), Jay Burritt (electric bass, fretless synth bass, fretless electric bass, upright electric bass, vocals), Kai Esbensen (keyboards, vocals), James Flagg (drums, percussion, vocals) and Jonathan G. Smith (vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, flute, clarinet, chimes, gong, glockenspiel, xylophone, mountain dulcimer, mandolin, banjo). Yes, they all sing.

I love this album, it's just plain awesome, although I can pretty much guarantee you won't be singing any of the songs, although they somehow manage to be melodic as well as, well, weird. Zappa would love these guys, who also have a hint of Specimen 37 in what they are doing, and if you want something so far out of both normal mainstream, and the progressive mainstream, then this is going to be worth discovering.

Report this review (#1722077)
Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, lummy. It finally arrived...after what seems like several generations of waiting, the second Bubblemath album 'Edit Peptide' is here, and, by God, it's a musical explosion right into your face.

Prog fans may, in general, be ignorant of the band's existence (even the ProgArchives bio has them labelled as "Bubblebath"), but this is almost certainly down to the huge temporal distance between their recordings. Their first album 'Such Fine Particles Of The Universe' was released back in 2001 on a small record label, and garnered much (well deserved) praise at the time, although, like most good things in/around the prog genre, it slipped under the radar of 99% of the good folk of Planet Earth. Its mind-boggling complexity, coupled with its playful sense of humour, pun- heavy lyrics and song titles, and its memorable tunes, left a real impression on me. I first heard a selection of tracks from the album, long after it was released, on the Aural Moon internet radio station, and even though Aural Moon in those days was prone to breaking up mid-song (and sometimes crashing completely), somehow the Bubblemath selection got through unscathed. Bookended by more furrowed-brow classic prog such as ELP and Yes, it stood out and shouted 'Buy me!'. It was as earnest as the classics in terms of skill, but in terms of atmosphere, this was more foam party than wake. And so I eagerly anticipated a follow-up, with accordingly multiplied sales and subsequent world tour...

Being a fan from that point onward was, to say the least, a little frustrating. Year after year after year went by with the constant inkling of a promise of the hint of a new album...but none arrived. Songs had been written, and in a lot of cases recorded, but it seemed the new material was stuck in 'mastering limbo' - and with the members all having grown up, the distractions that come with family, house moves etc all impeded progress towards completion. And for a band whose sound is defined by perfectionism, this means a LONG wait indeed.

The wait is at an end. And Edit Peptide is every bit the masterstroke that the Bubs promised for all those years. Punishingly complicated, ridiculously tuneful, jagged as a shattered flint, and, lyrically, one of the finest albums you'll ever read. Puns abound in and between song titles, and musical themes are ripped backward and forward in a way that makes the band virtually uncategorisable. Indeed, the band refuse to be pigeonholed and have stated on many occasions that they have only heard their supposed influences (Cardiacs, Echolyn, Yugen) after they've been told that they 'must have been influenced' by those bands.

Stand-outs, for me, are...

1) The spine-tingling 'Making Light of Traffic', which has to be one of the songs of the decade, with vocalist/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Jonathan G Smith veering between caustic ego-flattening ire and sweet Green Gartside avant-pop. It's almost impossibly delicate and brutal at the same time. A serious, serious achievement.

2) The very start of the album, where Routine Maintenance kicks in via a series of battering-ram syncs. It's like 'hello again' with a boot in the face. Drummer James Flagg is clearly one of the finest players on the planet, and he shows it here - it's just about the perfect percussive showreel.

3) "...can't we all just get a lawn??". A full song about lawns is to be lauded in any context. "...'Cause we're not gonna take any mow" just finishes it like Picasso must have done. If Picasso had been a lawn mower, that is.

4) Avoid That Eye Candy - "Seven billion people feel shamed and shoddy 'cause they don't have a supermodel body. But it's time those seven billion knew that only seven people do" True dat...

5) The Sensual Con - the breakdown in the middle of this song makes Dream Theater look like the Monkees. Exhilarating and bonkers in equal measure.

If you want to smile more in 2018 and beyond, forget Happiness Therapy and all of that rum meh - just catch yourself an earful of Edit Peptide. Like its title, it works as well backwards as it does forwards. Roll on the next one...sometime before 2033 would be great lads!

Report this review (#1822989)
Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | Review Permalink

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