Bubblemath releases its first album in 15 years, Edit Peptide Friday, 26 May via Cuneiform Records. A little history seems in order: The Minnesota unit’s debut LP, Such Fine Particles of the Universe (2002), was remarkable for its wide-ranging aesthetic, blending elements of pop and prog, then bending back into territories of the experimental and mathematical. The record garnered the band major respect among critics and listeners whose imaginations were matched only by their musical appetites. The prolonged silence that followed came down to a series of personal and professional setbacks that did little to quell Bubblemath’s artistic impulses.
Though it may seem odd to refer to such refined music as childlike, a fearlessness overtakes the compositions and playing across this record. It most often mimics a child’s need for magic and wonder. The opening 12-minute epic “Routines Maintenance” walks the tightrope between classic rock and rock music from the far reaches of the future. Lyrics fire into the air with an effortlessness one is tempted to call stream of consciousness, music passages flow as rich and fluidly as a dream and the piece itself demonstrates that Bubblemath has emerged from whatever hardships it experienced fully intact and determined to mine its singular musical path.
Epic tracks are a hallmark of progressive music, and in this regard, Bubblemath doesn’t disappoint. The ten-minute “A Void That I Can Depart To” further demonstrates a talent for continuous revelation, allowing unique harmonies, imaginative soundscapes and stylistic collisions that in any other hands would sound clumsy, under-realized but instead accentuate Bubblemath’s particular genius.
More remarkable than this attention to detail and meticulous sense of imagination is Bubblemath’s reluctance to sound like anyone else in the pantheon of prog. Yes, one might detect traces of Genesis here and (perhaps unintentional) bit of Mike Keneally there, but the remarkable originality at work in this music ultimately prevails. Even a relatively commercial turn such as “Avoid That Eye Candy” reveals a proclivity for the previously unexamined and the refreshingly strange.
Whether Edit Peptide is followed by another 15-year silence or ushers in a more prolific and creatively fertile era from Bubblemath doesn’t matter. Listeners have enough here to keep them peeling away layers for some time to come. We should all join in that task. Dig in if you can search for clues as to how one band could cover this wide a range of sounds and, of equal importance, sustain it for a full album, each unexpected twist offering us something new. What we have, then, is that rarest of musical artifacts, a sophomore release that lives up to its predecessor and may very well supplant it as an enticing and memorable statement.
Edit Peptide is out May 26 from Cuneiform Records and may be ordered here.