Review Summary: Break out your calculators and dance shoes. The Mathematicians have arrived.
Math. The science of numbers. An unknown infinite realm of virtual possibilities and outcomes. So what, I ask of you, the reader and music listener, is the equivalent of twelve songs, times three individual band members, divided by the quantity of X? The answer, as you've by now already calculated, is The Mathematicians 2004 self-released debut, Level One.
3 x 4 songs equals the product output of the upstate New York electro-indie band's debut. Each of the 14 - 2 songs relate to the only thing Mathematicians know how to write music about
: Math. And love. Textbooks go by the wayside when the math geeks fill the dance floor with number crunching converts. You may learn nothing at all about adding, subtracting, multiplying or how to carry the 1 -- but you will never again forget to correlate math with a partying good time.
The Mathematicians are Pete Pythagoras (bass, vocals), Dewi Decimal (synth/comp, vocals) and Albert Gorithm (drums, vocals). Their debut album, Level One
, is a fun listen that lends itself best to an outrageous live show. The band mixes electro, new wave, punk rock energy and a little math-geek hip hop --- which in a live setting, makes for an illogically engaging, highly entertaining experience. What makes the band uniquely memorable is their dedication to the angle. Every song on Level One
is related to math in some way or another. The musicians dress like vintage brains. A good example of the band's unique appeal comes from the always informed comments section of YouTube:
“saw these guys at the legion .sooo awesome. they were playing with the flaming tsunamis and other hardcore bands. then they came in with this electro whatever genre and and all the hardcore kids loved them “ – bluetoad325.
While the Flaming Tsunamis absolutely wrecked house that night, what bluetoad325
remembers most is the amazing cross-genre appeal of The Mathematicians. Calculators fly off the shelves in every city The Mathematicians pass through. It was with their debut album that the sound they tour behind was established. “Not a Theme”
is the first non-instrumental composition of the album and it completely loses control early on. Passion for its subject is never in question as a near flip-out performance by Pete Pythagoras demonstrates early that the band is not afraid to get heavy in order to get the message across. “Binary Girl”
is a standout track, combining both modern and retro electronic elements, which demonstrates a researched mastery of technological adaptation. The song also features one of the most engaging vocal portions of the album, making the track one of the album's best cuts for selection as a single. A second would be “Four Eyes.”
The song is based around an electronic beat that draws from old school rap, which lays the foundation for Pete Pythagoras to lay his his positive, free-thinking rhymes across. The song has the strongest chorus on the album, building to an anthemic declaration of the group's dance floor intentions.
Although the album has a good amount of quality songs that lend themselves well to live and home listening parties, the album does have several examples where the product does not quite equal the square root. “Input/Output”
is a call-response exchange between Pythagoras and Decimal which works to great effect live, but doesn't have enough happening to make it an engaging headphones listen. “Hypotenuse of Love”
drags a bit, stretching past seven minutes. The instrumentals are all quite good and enjoyable, however, they do make up a sizable percentage of the albums runtime – and the band is more enjoyable as a vocal outfit. Level One
, regardless of its occasional flawed theories, wakes its listeners up to the study of numbers, causing a change in people's perception of what math is really all about. The Mathematicians teach you that math isn't something to fear or something to hate. Instead, as demonstrated on Level One
, it's there to help you rock.