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Thread: Bubblemath - Turf Ascension

  1. #1

    Bubblemath - Turf Ascension

    Let's give this great, new record a separate thread to discuss about. As sure as hell, I do not have a definite opinion about it yet, but after my first 2-3 listens I am tremendously impressed by what I am hearing there. Bubblemath have embarked on longer compositions in their newest effort, and it suits them pretty well - the structure of the songs is clearer in my opinion than the labyrinthine Edit Peptide somewhat shorter songs. The combination of fantastic, "pop" melodies pouring out of everywhere, with dense chops and insane musical dexterity makes Turf Ascension an incredibly satisfying and unique experience for the progressive listener. I find it impossible to trace their music back to any obvious source, it is completely their own musical agenda and creative pathways that they explore with their music.

    An absolutely brilliant band, dare I say that it is the most interesting progressive band of recent times? They do make most of what passes by as progressive rock in our days sound like an insignificant pulp of tediousness.

    Thoughts, comments and more applause please from you!

  2. #2
    Ordered, thanks. Never heard them, but sounds like something I would like.

  3. #3
    Heard the two songs that were offered for free on Bandcamp and instantly bought the album. Really remarkable music - just great in every aspect.
    No matter what anyone says, you are the decider of how you will listen to music.

  4. #4
    Member Haruspex Carnage's Avatar
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    i think it's a good return to form. their last album kind of lost me where it didn't really have a lot of structure or good arrangements and it was monotonous. some songs i liked (A Void through Destiny) but the rest not so much. lots of hocketing in this one and there's a lot of interesting change ups and melodies.

  5. #5
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    ^ “hocketing?” Is that autocorrect’s word or your own?
    Primary procreation is accomplished…

  6. #6
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    ^ “hocketing?” Is that autocorrect’s word or your own?
    https://www.musicalexpert.org/what-is-a-hocket.htm
    Steve F.

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    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  7. #7
    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    I heard a track from this on online radio and it sounded very good. Apparently they aren't everyone's cup of tea though.
    You can't take a photograph of Uzis on a street corner.

  8. #8
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Man View Post
    IApparently they aren't everyone's cup of tea though.
    Nothing ever is! [if you want to discuss this, please start a different thread....]
    Steve F.

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    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Haruspex Carnage View Post
    i think it's a good return to form. their last album kind of lost me where it didn't really have a lot of structure or good arrangements and it was monotonous. some songs i liked (A Void through Destiny) but the rest not so much. lots of hocketing in this one and there's a lot of interesting change ups and melodies.
    I think Edit Peptide's purpose was to drive the complexity of prog rock over the brink, just to see whatever creeps in those uncharted territories. It is certainly a record that can frustrate the listener with its density, but I believe the band was fully self-aware of this particular trait - and gambled on it. It took a severe chunk of listens to penetrate its density - and I personally was fully rewarded. Turf Ascension sounds like a smoother adventure to my ears - the songs are more cohere and solidly structured. Still, there is insane musicianship involved and quite a flirt with chaos and dissonance - although it never materializes.

  10. #10
    Member Haruspex Carnage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    I think Edit Peptide's purpose was to drive the complexity of prog rock over the brink, just to see whatever creeps in those uncharted territories. It is certainly a record that can frustrate the listener with its density, but I believe the band was fully self-aware of this particular trait - and gambled on it. It took a severe chunk of listens to penetrate its density - and I personally was fully rewarded. Turf Ascension sounds like a smoother adventure to my ears - the songs are more cohere and solidly structured. Still, there is insane musicianship involved and quite a flirt with chaos and dissonance - although it never materializes.
    i just get enough of that overplaying stuff in DT and that gets old pretty fast. again it's not bad, but i prefer the first and this one over it.

  11. #11
    This is a really good record. It still hasn't hit me the same way that Edit Peptide did -- that one is still one of my favorite albums by anyone ever. Turf Ascension is a different beast, but I like it. I'm still getting a grip on the tunes, but it continues to grow on me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Haruspex Carnage View Post
    i just get enough of that overplaying stuff in DT and that gets old pretty fast. again it's not bad, but i prefer the first and this one over it.
    Not sure I'd ever compare Edit Peptide to anything DT has done. Overplaying? I don't agree with that.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
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  12. #12
    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    Edit Peptide is only album I have so far heard from Bubblemath. I have not really connected with that one but I will check the new one out.
    My progressive music site: https://pienemmatpurot.com/

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    Loving the new album. We have actual melodies and whatnot - which is not what I was expecting given the extended track lengths. Strong Album Of The Year contender!!!
    The Prog Corner

  14. #14
    I have not heard "Edit Peptide", but I will echo the appreciation of this newest release. I think being willing to use repetition in a more conventional sense is a plus. I'm often reminded of Echolyn in the chord changes, and it was mainly the last track that got into more avant-prog territory (at least for me, on first listen).
    Infinite Ceiling on www.ckcufm.com every Thursday night at 8:30 with me or Mark Keill, archived shows: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/112/...tml?filter=all
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    Member Haruspex Carnage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post

    Not sure I'd ever compare Edit Peptide to anything DT has done. Overplaying? I don't agree with that.
    Seriously? maybe i'll go back to it but it struck me as not having a lot of space or room to breathe.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haruspex Carnage View Post
    Seriously? maybe i'll go back to it but it struck me as not having a lot of space or room to breathe.
    Perhaps you mean overplaying from a denseness point of view? That is kind of their thing, though. I certainly wouldn't put them in the remote ballpark of DT-style, let's throw in a millions of notes, either.

    Neil
    Last edited by boilk; 07-05-2022 at 06:18 PM.

  17. #17
    It's good.
    "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

  18. #18
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Steve F.

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    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  19. #19
    SCORE
    If you're actually reading this then chances are you already have my last album but if NOT and you're curious:
    https://battema.bandcamp.com/

    Also, Ephemeral Sun: it's a thing and we like making things that might be your thing: https://ephemeralsun.bandcamp.com

  20. #20
    Funny, I was already about halfway through "Surface Tension" as I opened this thread.

    This is a really good CD, I'm still getting a grip on it but I enjoy it and I'm remembering more melodies from it the more I listen. Glad to see it getting some wider recognition and high ratings.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  21. #21
    Well, this album continues to grow on me. My favorite track is probably still "Surface Tension", but "Everything" is a killer piece as well. There is more mellowness on this than Edit Peptide, which is cool. I like that it's a different beast and not just a replica of what came before -- but it still definitely sounds like Bubblemath!

    Kai, I was wondering if you could shed some light on the artwork and concept behind it. What does it mean? I haven't been able to figure it out yet.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
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  22. #22
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    ^ The title seems to be a play on words for "Surface Tension," but how that might fit into the artwork, I have no idea either.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    ^ The title seems to be a play on words for "Surface Tension," but how that might fit into the artwork, I have no idea either.
    Did you find out that yourself? If yes, you're a really intelligent person. If not, you still are.

    The lyrics are quite a thing in this album. There are some really interesting texts in there, and some brilliant rhymes. And it's essential to the whole thing, since - surprisingly enough - Bubblemath is a songwriting entity. Which to me - in the world of progressive rock - is truly remarkable and sets them apart from the rest of the pack.

    But hopefully I will expand on this in the near future. The album is addictive and divine.

  24. #24
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    ^ The title seems to be a play on words for "Surface Tension," but how that might fit into the artwork, I have no idea either.
    It’s a spoonerism that a band member made re: Surface Tension.

    The rest needs to come from Kai, but perhaps the press release will help a bit…
    Last edited by Steve F.; 07-18-2022 at 04:15 PM.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  25. #25
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Bio information: BUBBLEMATH
    Title: TURF ASCENSION (Cuneiform Rune 488)
    Format: CD / DIGITAL
    www.cuneiformrecords.com
    FILE UNDER: ROCK / ART ROCK / ECLECTIC PROGRESSIVE ROCK

    Bubblemath Perfectionists Produce Insanely Correct Masterpiece; It’s The Finest Prog You’ll Ever Read! new album, Turf Ascension, is the finest progressive-rock album you’re ever going to read. This is not to short-change the music on this four-song, 49-minute collection of shifting time signatures, swirling vocal harmonies, interstellar guitars, and rippling keyboard flourishes.



    Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bubblemath’s Blake Albinson, Jay Burritt, Kai Esbensen, James Flagg, and Jonathan G. Smith have taken full advantage of their hometown’s long winter nights to hone a singular style that’s at once thrilling, enthralling, and technically demanding.

    Not just winter nights, in fact, but entire years. Although the members of Bubblemath joined forces well over two decades ago, Turf Ascension is only their third full-length, with a 15-year gap falling between their 2002 debut, Such Fine Particles of the Universe, and 2017’s Edit Peptide, their first for the Cuneiform imprint.

    Asked why such a gap, keyboard player and chief lyricist Esbensen blames “happenstance”.

    “Our first record, Such Fine Particles of the Universe, we started recording it in 1999, and we took two years to get that out,” he explains. “We were all like, ‘That took two years! That was way too long. Let’s not make that mistake again.’ So we immediately went into the studio and started recording Edit Peptide.”
    The band’s obsessive attention to detail almost immediately sabotaged the chance of meeting any reasonable deadline. Once the initial budget was drained, the band members realized they had essentially paid to equip their engineer’s studio. Why not do the same for themselves? Microphones, a ProTools setup, and soundproofing were quickly obtained.

    “But the punishment clause for owning your own equipment is that now you have it, there’s no longer any deadline spurring you along. No money that you will continue to owe, and no other bands coming into the space to kick you out,” says Esbensen with a rueful laugh. “So the perfectionism of Bubblemath crept in pretty quickly, and we just took forever to get our takes and arrangements just exactly, perfectly, insanely correct.”
    The band’s hard-won knowledge enabled it to produce Turf Ascension in a comparatively fast-paced five years. Actually listening to the record, however, is a decidedly more luxurious experience.

    “With this record, we really allowed ourselves to develop themes,” Esbensen contends. “If you listen to our first record, or even Edit Peptide, it’s like we have this mantra of, ‘Why repeat something four times if you can get away with only three?’ That kind of thing. ‘Why give the listener a chance to get bored? Switch it up! Keep it going!’

    “It was A.D.D. kind of stuff,” he continues. “And with Turf Ascension, we were like, ‘Well, what if we just lingered on stuff longer, and built out the themes?’ Before, we would have gone, ‘Well, we can’t, in case it gets boring.’ But here the followup question was, ‘Okay, well, what if we just work really hard to not make it boring?’

    Switching up the themes quickly in order to hold listener interest is obviously our comfort zone. But in that regard it’s almost a crutch - sort of like having chocolate in a dessert is kind of a crutch. A chocolate dessert is pretty easy to make successful. But what if you had to create a dessert with cucumber and pomegranate? How do you make that good? You have to be really mindful and deliberate, if that’s not your culinary wheelhouse. So it was a fun challenge to let the themes evolve and flow in a way that we really haven’t ever done before.”

    It’s tempting to call Esbensen’s lyrics the icing on this cucumber-pomegranate cake, and the idiom is not as clichéd as it might seem. While it may be easy to assume that Bubblemath’s music exists to illustrate its words, the reality is a little different. In fact, Esbensen’s detailed plot lines and well-considered meditations on existence come at the very end of the songwriting process, after the song structures and vocal melodies are already in place.

    With the 17-minute, 57-second epic “Surface Tension”, for example, what reads like a science fiction novella emerged from Esbensen’s spur-of-the-moment playfulness.

    “It was actually kind of a lucky break,” he says. “We had the vocal melodies already written, as we do, and one of the first things that I do when I’m writing lyrics is to fit nonsense words into the melody lines so I can feel out where the syllables should go and where the rhymes should fall. And the very first nonsense lyric I put in was, ‘In the wall of a bathroom, down the hall from the math room.’ That made me laugh, and so I started thinking what that could be about. And from there I pictured a high school, and a mysterious government computer system clicking away in the walls, with its grand purpose poised and ready for action. And then, meanwhile, the name ‘Bubblemath’ is a reference to the physics of surface tension. So once I decided to have this school burrowing into a secret underground human-race-preservation facility, I was kind of delighted that ‘Surface Tension’ could be the name of the song, given our protagonists’ longing to ascend from their bunker- compound back to the surface.”

    The album title Turf Ascension, in turn, grew out of a spoonerism concocted by guitarist Albinson. It also gives a clue as to how Bubblemath operates: every aspect of the band is interconnected.

    While claustrophobia, paranoia, and fear for the future are explicit in “Surface Tension”, variations on those themes underpin the other three songs on Turf Ascension. “All songs deal with ascending one kind of turf or another, whether it is literal dirt turf or figurative conceptual turf,” says Esbensen. In the song “Decrypted”, it’s both: a dead apple tree refuses to admit defeat or even acknowledge its own death, and this anomaly opens the door, inviting the listener on a quest to decipher the mysteries of DNA. But the song can also be interpreted as referring to the onslaught of misinformation we all have to wade through, as well as to the persistence of life in the face of impossible odds.

    “Everything”, meanwhile, posits that the entire universe is a simulation, a concept Esbensen traces back to the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom’s 2003 essay, “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?”

    “I had read that, and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a fun concept for a song,’” he says. “It’s existential ennui meets meta-science plausibility. Questioning the bounds of what we know, as those very bounds subsume themselves. And it kind of goes back to the day-to-day gripes and grievances that people have, and the cortisol that people
    pointlessly expend being bothered by who gets food stamps and who looked at you funny when you were buying coffee that one time. It’s about how, ultimately, everything is probably fairly petty in the grand scheme. It’s like, ‘You’re worried about gas prices when the whole thing is a hologram? Choose your battles wisely, ya know?’”

    On the subject of battles, more pressing existential worries are reflected in “Refuse”, a critique of unchecked weapons technology, and the contentious geopolitical border conflicts that drive it. Something that has never been more relevant than it is today.

    Esbensen deflects the notion that he has a hotline to the zeitgeist, or that Bubblemath’s extra-musical mandate is to inject social commentary into the often apolitical world of progressive rock.

    “Really, I just wanted to make sure that the lyrics were as good as the music,” he explains. “In so much of the music that I love, the lyrics come across like they were just kind of chucked in as an afterthought. I can roll with that for the most part, but the more I like a song’s music, the sadder I get when the lyrics don’t measure up. So I just want to make sure that the lyrics for Bubblemath deserve the music of Bubblemath.”

    Nonetheless, the keyboardist is willing to counsel those perplexed by confusing times.

    “Question stuff, but keep tabs on yourself,” he says. “Pay attention to what you’re questioning, as well as what you’re not questioning. And pay attention to why. Learn your biases. Self-deception is a real problem, so employ methodologies to mitigate self-deception as much as you can. You can’t eliminate it completely, but it’s important to understand that about oneself, and to be really mindful and aware of it.”

    Sage advice. And nothing would help this process of self-discovery along more than the high-energy, hyper-intelligent, and tuneful tracks on Bubblemath’s Turf Ascension.
    Last edited by Steve F.; 07-18-2022 at 04:23 PM.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    “Remember, if it doesn't say "Cuneiform," it's not prog!” - THE Jed Levin

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

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