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Thread: About Bubblemath, new CD and Live show....

  1. #1
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    About Bubblemath, new CD and Live show....

    Well it has been since 2001 that the last Bubblemath cd was released, "Such Fine Particles of the Universe" which was indeed a nice surprise for one of the very few "prog" bands hailing from my home state of Minnesota. In fact that was probably the year that I was lucky enough to see them Live locally, twice in fact, once with the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum troupe. And the promise of a 2nd cd was imminent, as was evidenced after seeing the band playing many songs that were not on the "Fine Particles" cd. In fact, I was able to preview the song "The Sensual Con" as a raw take since, well, way back in that era. And as much as I anticipated getting a second dose of the bands' clever musical ideas, days, months, and years kept passing us by, until ultimately I had given up hope that the band would actually release another recording.

    Understandably, the complexities of life can prohibit every ambitious endeavor, and creating progressive music in the modern era is not easy, with little hope of label funding and sales, and crowd funding efforts. Yet despite those challenges, I get the news that a NEW Bubblemath cd is being released here in 2017, by Cuneiform records no less. I had to do some fact checking here in the era of Fake News, and was exceedingly pleased to see that it was true. Looking in the local "cool" news for gigs and acts appearing in the Mpls scene, I was again surprised to see the band had a few gigs scheduled, one in particular, in St. Cloud, MN, not exactly local, but because my long time, loyal proghead friends were so eager to see them again, we travelled the 70+ miles to get to a place called The Nest, just to see the band, and more importantly, get a physical cd!!!

    There were two other bands on the bill, one being a Primus cover band, we drank quality beers for the duration of the cover band, and then Bubblemath took the stage, surprisingly, the band has aged gracefully, and all the original members are intact(that reads a bit funny), being a progressive/fusion fan of a certain age, I have seen and heard 1000's of bands, and the best of the best, so I would just like to mention that Bubblemath is a band that seeing live is double the pleasure of hearing their recorded music, which I cannot say about many bands and artists that I have seen.

    They really have a great vibe, and the complexity of their compositions really get enhanced while performed live, with each instrument playing in a compartmentalized space in time, and out of time at times. Vocally they are equally ambitious, with a hint of the genius of Gentle Giant and four part harmonies maybe five, not sure if the bass player was singing too much. The set was excellent, and even the smallish crowd on hand managed to make ample noise in appreciation for a set well played.

    Anyway, the new cd is great, I expected nothing less. And congrats to Kai, she said yes!

  2. #2
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    ^^^^^^
    OF COURSE she said yes in front of all those people; the real answer came after the show.....

    J/K
    Steve F.

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  3. #3
    People need to hear their new album. It's amazing and astonishing, and it's "prog" yet so much more and other and different and their own - which was what those original progressive bands were all about.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  4. #4
    I just got the new one and have only played it once. I find Bubblemath incredibly dense, so it will take me a while to get my ears around this. At first blush, I'm impressed but somewhat overwhelmed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    I actually only got their first album recently. Not sure why I'd avoided it. It's quite good, but it took me a while to get my head around some of the later tracks, in fact I'm still getting my head around them. The first 2 - 3 tracks are pretty killer, though. I think it's just a question of time and attention for me with this band. I'm glad to be discovering their stuff.

    Bill

  5. #5
    Member mnprogger's Avatar
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    nice review. Setlist?

    I saw them at The Triple Rock I want to say about a year ago, although it was all-instrumental, but still a fun show. I'd love to see them soon again, although timing permitted (convincing my wife, after many other shows recently and upcoming).

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    Quote Originally Posted by mnprogger View Post
    it was all-instrumental, but still a fun show.
    I wonder why. They certainly can sing, in fact they can sing like Gentle Giant. Did somebody maybe have bronchitis?

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    Man, I would love to see them live. Did they do stuff from the first album? Be Together and Cells Out (the second and last tracks) are both amazing from that one.

    neil

  8. #8
    Member mnprogger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    I wonder why. They certainly can sing, in fact they can sing like Gentle Giant. Did somebody maybe have bronchitis?
    I think it was a combination of Jonathan their singer not being able to make the show (unlike the rest of the band, he doesn't live in the city), and the not playing songs the other guys sing lead on, etc.

    A lot of it was sort of improvised at times from memory.

    edit: my review
    http://allmediareviews.blogspot.com/...l-fonfara.html

    and just re-reading, it was almost 2 years ago, and the stuff they did is intended for their 3rd album.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    . I find Bubblemath incredibly dense, so it will take me a while to get my ears around this. At first blush, I'm impressed but somewhat overwhelmed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
    Same here. Dense is the first word that comes in mind. For my ears too dense. Impenetrable. Yet to find a crack for me to enter.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    Same here. Dense is the first word that comes in mind. For my ears too dense. Impenetrable. Yet to find a crack for me to enter.
    I'm hearing you. I gave Edit Peptide spin #2 last night, and gave it a lot more attention than the first spin. But to really *get* this, really get the most out of it, I think I'd have to listen and read the lyrics at the same time. The songs aren't "traditionally" structured. There isn't really a verse, and I don't think there is a chorus on the whole album, at least not one that is particularly memorable as a chorus. I think a lot of the changes in the music are occurring because of changes in the lyrics, highlighting what is happening in the lyrics, and the form seems to be a bit more open.

    This was exactly my issue with Jethro Tull's A Passion Play. When I finally sat down with the lyrics (and a good explanation thereof on the Ministry of Information site), suddenly APP opened up to me. What seemed arbitrary before became logical, and it became possibly my favorite Tull album. I'm thinking/hoping something similar will happen with this album, but I think Bubblemath go even further in this direction than Tull, who at least have large stretches of music that does establish memorable themes. Also, the music itself carries some of the load on APP. With Bubblemath, the music seems almost secondary, and there are very few moments where the instrumentalists are featured, and those features are usually very brief.

    So I'm with you, it's hard to "find a way in" that makes me actually like the music, beyond being simply impressed by the band's obvious talent and accomplishment of creating something so challenging. I think it's going to take some work, and it's hard for me to find time to put that kind of work into music these days. But I'll try.

    Bill

  11. #11
    A Passion Play seems like simple pop music compared to this, the scale of the composition is the only overwhelming factor to me. Obviously extra-complexity and labyrinthine (or chaotic?) structure falls within the band's intentions, it is not accidental or some kind of a "flaw". But after 3 listens I still haven't found these few sign-posts to somehow cling onto, so that my interest doesn't wane somewhere in the middle. I haven't dismissed it yet, but I am not very optimistic of my future with it.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    A Passion Play seems like simple pop music compared to this, the scale of the composition is the only overwhelming factor to me. Obviously extra-complexity and labyrinthine (or chaotic?) structure falls within the band's intentions, it is not accidental or some kind of a "flaw". But after 3 listens I still haven't found these few sign-posts to somehow cling onto, so that my interest doesn't wane somewhere in the middle. I haven't dismissed it yet, but I am not very optimistic of my future with it.
    Yeah, I totally agree. The comparison I was really trying to make with APP was that I think the entree might be really having a grasp of the lyrics and how those may be driving changes in the music; potentially providing those "signposts." That worked for me with APP, but as you rightly point out, it's an order of magnitude difference.

    Bill

  13. #13
    Hm. There actually are "choruses" - but they protect their own quotation marks intimately.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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    I would say that track 2, has the most obvious chorus, if anything that BM does can be considered obvious, ha.

    neil

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Hm. There actually are "choruses" - but they protect their own quotation marks intimately.
    A weird way of putting it, but that was sort of what I was driving at as well. My point was the choruses don't really act like choruses, at least not to me, yet. So are they really choruses in the proper sense?

    Also, I wasn't saying this as a put down of any kind. I'm explaining why it's hard to get my ears around it, not saying it's bad. As Zappathustra pointed out, it is clearly intentional. They know what they're doing, and it's challenging stuff. No one should be surprised when some listeners are challenged.

    Bill

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    What's the difference between verses and choruses, and A and B sections?

    A silly question, maybe. But you don't really find verses and choruses in classical music, although you find a whole lot of A sections, B sections, and less obvious constructions. I bring this up because it was a problem I wrestled with in my own material: If I started out by writing music, it fell into verses and choruses, and there didn't seem to be anything I could do about that: It would start with a longish part that began simply but built tension, resolving into a shorter, catchier part, then repeating each (perhaps with some variation and transitions between), then going into a further, contrasting part. Or, in other words, verse, chorus; verse, chorus; bridge.

    Now there's nothing wrong with that. But what if you can't do anything else, if your music just always seems to fall into that pattern, whether you mean it to or not? I suppose that's just fine if you're writing straight pop music, but what if you don't want to? You're stuck within your own cliches, and it can be really frustrating if you're trying to go beyond them.

    The trick for getting out of that box turned out to be writing the lyrics first, and deliberately writing lyrics that didn't fall into a verse and a chorus (unless I intended them to). No verse or chorus in the words, no verse or chorus in the resulting music. It was that simple.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    What's the difference between verses and choruses, and A and B sections?

    A silly question, maybe. But you don't really find verses and choruses in classical music, although you find a whole lot of A sections, B sections, and less obvious constructions. I bring this up because it was a problem I wrestled with in my own material: If I started out by writing music, it fell into verses and choruses, and there didn't seem to be anything I could do about that: It would start with a longish part that began simply but built tension, resolving into a shorter, catchier part, then repeating each (perhaps with some variation and transitions between), then going into a further, contrasting part. Or, in other words, verse, chorus; verse, chorus; bridge.

    Now there's nothing wrong with that. But what if you can't do anything else, if your music just always seems to fall into that pattern, whether you mean it to or not? I suppose that's just fine if you're writing straight pop music, but what if you don't want to? You're stuck within your own cliches, and it can be really frustrating if you're trying to go beyond them.

    The trick for getting out of that box turned out to be writing the lyrics first, and deliberately writing lyrics that didn't fall into a verse and a chorus (unless I intended them to). No verse or chorus in the words, no verse or chorus in the resulting music. It was that simple.
    Awesome, well put! Glad that worked for you, I have a devil of a time writing music to words, especially if there isn't a strong structure. Kudos to you for doing it, it ain't easy!

    Bill

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    there isn't a strong structure.
    I took the opportunity just the other day to compare the two Bubblemath albums in search for both discrepancy and unity, and I have to say that for my listening part, there's a highly distinct continuum in that exact department - the sense of elaboration on inner structure. But whereas the debut sees such an attention determined at the "song-format" in terms of duration, binary variation etc. Edit Eptide allows for the same approach to take on the 'Jon' treatment of essentially not only stretching out but imploding from scope. In other words, what you'd might identify as an apparent "temporary" verse/chorus syntax is defined as little but digressive redherring-motives on confronting the whole of a song. Strangely, though, they're all just that still - songs. I've come to believe that this is what exhausts some folks; not the conceptual form or slightly "avant-garde" nature of their skewed pop rendition itself, but the very fact that these aren't through-composed "works" (of the Yugen or MiRthkon orientation) but vastly embroidered pop/rock statements.
    Last edited by Scrotum Scissor; 06-15-2017 at 05:10 PM.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    I took the opportunity just the other day to compare the two Bubblemath albums in search for both discrepancy and unity, and I have to say that for my listening part, there's a highly distinct continuum in that exact department - the sense of elaboration on inner structure. But whereas the debut sees such an attention determined at the "song-format" in terms of duration, binary variation etc. Edit Eptide allows for the same approach to take on the 'Jon' treatment of essentially not only stretching out but imploding from scope. In other Words, what you'd might identify as an apparent "temporary" verse/chorus syntax is defined as little but digressive redherring-motives on confronting the Whole of a song. Strangely, though, they're all just that still - songs. I've come to believe that this is what exhausts some folks; not the conceptual form or slightly "avant-garde" nature of their skewed pop rednition itself, but the very fact that these aren't through-composed "works" (of the Yugen or MiRthkon orientation) but vastly embroidered pop/rock statements.
    Fascinating descriptions here... I liked the song I heard from Soundcloud a while back. Been meaning to pick up a copy of Edit Peptide and just keep forgetting to. Gotta remedy that soon.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    I took the opportunity just the other day to compare the two Bubblemath albums in search for both discrepancy and unity, and I have to say that for my listening part, there's a highly distinct continuum in that exact department - the sense of elaboration on inner structure. But whereas the debut sees such an attention determined at the "song-format" in terms of duration, binary variation etc. Edit Eptide allows for the same approach to take on the 'Jon' treatment of essentially not only stretching out but imploding from scope. In other words, what you'd might identify as an apparent "temporary" verse/chorus syntax is defined as little but digressive redherring-motives on confronting the whole of a song. Strangely, though, they're all just that still - songs. I've come to believe that this is what exhausts some folks; not the conceptual form or slightly "avant-garde" nature of their skewed pop rendition itself, but the very fact that these aren't through-composed "works" (of the Yugen or MiRthkon orientation) but vastly embroidered pop/rock statements.
    My reference to structure wasn't in relation to Bubblemath, which is clearly highly structured.

    That aside, what you say here is interesting, if somewhat obtuse. I sort of agree with you, though I'm not sure the songs being "vastly embroidered pop/rock statements," is what I find exhausting, particularly as opposed to Yugen of MiRthkon, which I find equally exhausting for different reasons. I just think Bubblemath throws a ton of stuff at you, and if you don't follow it, you rapidly lose your place. Songs or not, through-composed or not (which I very much think these Bubblemath songs are), there's just a butt-load going on, and it gets overwhelming.

    Again, I don't mean that in a bad way. I wouldn't be wasting my time talking about it, or listening to the album if I wasn't intrigued and didn't recognize that this is something special and interesting. It's just a stretch for my ears to get to a place where I really like it. I really like the first three tracks on the first album, I think if you compare them with Edit Peptide, you'd find a lot more repetition of themes and far more easily recognizable structure in those tracks than on Edit Peptide, or even on the later tracks on that first album. I don't think it's a lot more complicated than that.

    I still believe the lyrics will be my key to really getting into this album, and will test that hypothesis as soon as I have time to really give the album that attention.

    Bill

  21. #21
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    Sputnik, the impression that your presenting about Bubblemath and your personal challenges with them, are exactly the band's intention, hence their band name Bubblemath Isn't easy math, and depth, structured incongruencies, great abuse of time signatures, and multi layered vocals are all part of the orchestration.
    I agree that following the lyrics would be beneficial. And why not? They are part of the musical whole, and they are quite fitting considering the music.
    But that said, this is not background music, and yes, it does require not only your full attention, but an analyctic listening effort to fully appreciate, which seems to be hard to do for some in this day and age.
    There are still many fans of music that needs to be deciphered so to speak, it does take extra time and effort, but it is so rewarding in the end.
    Having a comfortable listening environment really helps.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by MJBrady View Post
    Sputnik, the impression that your presenting about Bubblemath and your personal challenges with them, are exactly the band's intention, hence their band name Bubblemath Isn't easy math, and depth, structured incongruencies, great abuse of time signatures, and multi layered vocals are all part of the orchestration.
    I agree that following the lyrics would be beneficial. And why not? They are part of the musical whole, and they are quite fitting considering the music.
    But that said, this is not background music, and yes, it does require not only your full attention, but an analyctic listening effort to fully appreciate, which seems to be hard to do for some in this day and age.
    There are still many fans of music that needs to be deciphered so to speak, it does take extra time and effort, but it is so rewarding in the end.
    Having a comfortable listening environment really helps.
    I basically agree. I'm not sure it's going to take "analytical" listening, I don't think their stuff is that complex. But I think you're spot on that it's not background music and that it will take my full attention.

    You're so right about time. Most of my listening is done over dinner, and sometimes my wife and I have a lot to say, other times we're content to listen to the music. This is good for about 90% of my stuff, but some stuff just needs more attention. Most of that I can listen to in the car on the way to various rehearsals, so that gives me more attentive time. That may work eventually with Bubblemath, but first I'd like to sit down and follow along with the lyrics - tough to do in the car (though with everyone else texting on their iBlahs, what difference does it really make? ). Haven't had time to do it yet, but will do it asap.

    Bill

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sputnik View Post
    I basically agree. I'm not sure it's going to take "analytical" listening, I don't think their stuff is that complex. But I think you're spot on that it's not background music and that it will take my full attention.

    You're so right about time. Most of my listening is done over dinner, and sometimes my wife and I have a lot to say, other times we're content to listen to the music. This is good for about 90% of my stuff, but some stuff just needs more attention. Most of that I can listen to in the car on the way to various rehearsals, so that gives me more attentive time. That may work eventually with Bubblemath, but first I'd like to sit down and follow along with the lyrics - tough to do in the car (though with everyone else texting on their iBlahs, what difference does it really make? ). Haven't had time to do it yet, but will do it asap.

    Bill
    Well, you don't need to make excuses for not wanting to get too invested in their music, I understand all too well, so many artists, and very little time to get overly involved with any certain band, unless the music has an immediate connection. I was fortunate to see them live a few times, so getting to see the "moving parts" in a quaint live setting was what really made me warm up to them, and being from Minn. was really the only way that seeing them would have happened, so luck had a bit to do with it.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by MJBrady View Post
    Well, you don't need to make excuses for not wanting to get too invested in their music, I understand all too well, so many artists, and very little time to get overly involved with any certain band, unless the music has an immediate connection. I was fortunate to see them live a few times, so getting to see the "moving parts" in a quaint live setting was what really made me warm up to them, and being from Minn. was really the only way that seeing them would have happened, so luck had a bit to do with it.
    I think seeing them live would be a perfect way to connect with this music. I hate to be bored in live shows, which I often am, and this stuff would be anything but boring! I can see how that opened the door for you, wish they played near me, I'd definitely make the effort to go see them.

    Bill

  25. #25
    Hello all,

    As a member of Bubblemath, I can speak to some of the questions and comments in this thread.

    First, I want to thank you, MJ Brady, for coming out to the show. I was in a bit of a brain-blur (having just proposed to my girlfriend on stage and all!) afterwards, so I wasn't able to be as chatty as I like to be after performing. Next time (Triple Rock! Saturday, July 29!) I'll be in a much more grounded headspace for catching up. It was great to see you, though! Maybe we can get Doug Silver to come out also!

    Steve, your comment made me laugh. Thankfully (luckily?) she has maintained her position of "yes" all week long. She has a whole lifetime to change her mind, though. So we'll just have to hope for the best.

    Scrotum Scissor, thank you for the kind words. I'm so glad you are enjoying the album! You are exactly the kind of listener we made this music for. (Also, I love the phrase "vastly embroidered pop/rock statements"!)

    Baribrotzer, the reason we played an all instrumental show last year was because it was all brand new material, and we didn't have any lyrics yet. We weren't even officially "Bubblemath" at that show, as it was just 4/5ths of the band performing. (We were billed as Bubblemath Minus One.)

    Boilk/Neil, you will be pleased to know that we played both Be Together and Cells Out at the show last week. I heard that someone was video recording it, so I wouldn't be surprised if it showed up online at some point.

    Mnprogger, the set list was:

    -----
    "Torrent" (a new song, which you heard instrumentally at that Bubblemath Minus One show last year, but now there's lyrics; "Torrent" is its working title)
    "Routine Maintenance"
    "Be Together"
    "Everything" (another new song, which you heard instrumentally at that show last year; but now there's lyrics)
    "Cells Out"
    "Morning Dreams" (a cover of a Ladyhawke song, which Bubblemath was nice enough to allow me to make them learn so that I could propose to Annette with it!)
    "The Sensual Con"
    -----

    Zappathustra, I totally get where you're coming from about the perceived impenetrability of the music on Edit Peptide. It is pretty relentlessly in motion which, as you surmised, is by design. We are not at all surprised that some listeners are challenged by it. Understandably hard to get into for some people on the one hand; on the other hand we hope we've crammed enough layers of compositional nuance into the songs to provide many hours of intrigue and discovery to those who care to dig deeper. Anyway, you may find the crack/foothold you are looking for in track #7 "Destiny Repeats Itself"; as that song eases its way into focus pretty smoothly and without too much overt shenanigans.

    Sputnik/Bill, you too may find the foothold you're looking for with track #7 "Destiny Repeats Itself". I'm heartened to hear that you aren't giving up on us! Reading along with the lyrics may indeed help. Note that the lyrics are all presented in paragraph/prose form, as opposed to "chopped and stacked" like most poetry/lyrics tend to be. This was done in order to help people follow along better; but your mileage may vary. I hope you find the foothold you're looking for!

    And yes... the songs on our first album were much shorter and tended toward a more discernible sense of verses and choruses. On Edit Peptide, we allowed ourselves the luxury of expanding on themes and playing with the compositional relationships within each part of each song; such that the songs on Edit Peptide are much more expansive, with every section of each song tending to contain a thematic thread from another section of that song. As such, there are definitely some fruits that would result from analytical investigation. But we also took care to (hopefully) make the music fun at a surface listening level. As "onslaughtty" as it may seem, we do try to be catchy and memorable at the same time.

    --Kai
    Bubblemath

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