65daysofstatic: The Fall of Math

Groundbreaking British glitch-rockers' debut gets a long-overdue North American release.


The Fall of Math

Label: Monotreme
US Release Date: 2008-03-17
UK Release Date: 2004-09-27

I'll apologise in advance: there's no way for me to write this review objectively.

I say this not because of any deep-seated prejudice against impenetrably named spacebar-shirkers, nor, conversely, due to any neighbourly bias towards a band hailing from Sheffield, my own personal neck of the woods, in the UK (cringey glam rockers Def Leppard are proof enough that geographical connections aren't so strong as to transcend all barriers). No, the reason I can't review this objectively is because I first heard The Fall of Math a full four years ago, upon its release in Britain. That's four years in which to absorb every last drop of its plentiful ingenuity, to grasp the merciless melting together of numerous genres, and admire the combination of almost robotic precision and an unlikely, euphoric emotional pull. Four years which have only reinforced the initial reaction that this is one of the best debut albums in recent memory. Between then and now, the four improbably inventive men trading under guise of 65daysofstatic have released an emphatic speeding bullet of a sophomore, as well as a disappointingly undercooked third album; they've played across the globe; performed before thousands of devotees night after night; and they’ve supported the Cure on a US tour. Yet it's quite possible -- likely, perhaps -- that in creative terms, they'll never better The Fall of Math.

Now, as it's granted a long-overdue release in North America, I'm struggling to pin down quite what makes The Fall of Math so good. I know that it is; I can hear it. Even now, the sky-high melodic peaks of "Hole", for instance, are spine-tingling, even more so for sitting so defiantly alongside the cut-up breakbeats and mash-ups of "Default This". It's just I've long accepted its greatness as fact, nestled into my subconscious; it just is. And you can't backtrack, of course, either. Once something's wormed its way inside of you like this, it's there for good, absorbed so wholly that stripping it bare and analysing its objective musical merits just isn’t an option. That would make no more sense than critiquing each individual characteristic of that person you love, as though it’s the construction you fell for rather than the whole.

But with 65days, it's not just knowing what it is that reels you in, it's also knowing how to express it that's the problem. Indeed, perhaps the greatest, and yet the most obvious, compliment it's possible to pay the instrumental quartet is that they're impossible to pigeonhole. Inevitably many have tried: some call it math-rock, some replace that particular prefix with 'post-', others prefer the more manageable but no more precise term of electronica. All paint only a fraction of the whole picture. 65days are 65days, and remain unclassifiable.

That's not to say you can't pinpoint influences, however. There's clearly facets of the above genres amongst the myriad styles 65days themselves traverse, with Squarepusher and Mogwai, for instance, serving as convenient reference points for the swift "you might like this" check. But 65days themselves sound like neither Squarepusher or Mogwai. They've created their very own monster, as complex as it is gripping, as destructive as it is beautiful.

Indeed, it indicative of The Fall of Math's multifariousness that while its primary audience will be found amongst post-rockers and electro-geeks, its sound is much less exclusive than much of the fare put out in both those circles. Yes, "Default This" is a jittery hyperactive stop-gap of syncopated beats laid over a minimalist drip-drop keyboard line, but then "I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood" is so brimming with guitar and piano fugues that actually, you know, it's pretty fucking catchy. Likewise, The Fall of Math is riddled with titular obscurities such as "Install a Beak in the Heart that Clucks Time in Arabic", but then that track itself turns out to be led by a beat so energetic that head-nodding is a mandatory obligation.

So maybe its here, if anywhere in particular, that lays the glory of The Fall of Math: it has everything. It has technicality ("Install a Beak…"); it has simplicity ("Fix the Sky a Little"). It has quiet (the icy falls of "The Last Home Recording"); it has loud (the restless title track is particularly pummelling). It's cerebral, but it's also primitive, and euphoric. It is gloriously idiosyncratic, and yet succinct enough to warrant a brace of singles. Most tellingly, it’s the type of album you could gush about all day, all the while feeling there's nothing you could say that'll do it even close to justice.

Four years late, then; but better late than never. And while it's clearly premature to talk of such haughty concepts as "standing the test of time", that particular question was always going to be redundant with this release. Even now The Fall of Math sounds unequivocally ahead of its time. Ask a regular lottery player, ardent Guns 'n' Rose fan, or anyone with patience enough to still care when the Stone Roses finally followed up their eponymous debut: good things don't always come to those who wait. But this one's most definitely been worth it.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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