A lo fi math rock band in my pockets

Menendez – Apple for teacher

The genre of math rock is bandied around a lot these days, mostly encompassing bands that play around with odd time signatures, rendering a few emotions (and ears) confused. Then you have lo fi, with its ups and downs, fuzzy guitars (sometimes) and an almost disenfranchised approach to vocal delivery. Then you have slocore, a fantastic genre full of thoughtful music and a very glacial pace.

Now, I really don’t know where to put Menendez because they have bits and bobs of each of these genres, so let’s just embrace the very fine music they peddle instead of wonder the shade of grey clouds their sound evokes.

Apple for teacher  is no happy album, that’s for sure. In the tradition of bands with odd time signatures and processed vocals, Menendez take your hand (a little nesh) and walk you through a forest on a rainy day. The daze of the walk might get you a little discombobulated at first and you are not sure what you are hearing (‘Where shall I build our city’), but then the walk becomes an exercise in thinking. One of those sessions of retrospection and yearning (‘Androcles begins to regret his decision’) where you think about the good and the bad (mostly the latter).

Maybe a couple of good memories pop up by? It sure can, and they dance in your noggin to the tune of ‘(I’m fighting a  losing battle with) HR’. The sound of a playful guitar kept in place by a snare drum that’s precise and clear cut while some odd sounds (like murmurs) reverberate on the back. Yes, it’s a disquieting song but it’s the first of many a strange thing to come from Menendez. The experimental styles from math rock are well sported by this band from here onwards.

Some dreamy spells are offered in Apple for teacher. ‘Seven summers old’ is so full of yearning and the guitar work is simply full of good ideas (and emotions) in this track. The instrumental break in the middle is a very cool experience.

There are songs that are simpler to digest, but nonetheless, still good ones. ‘Candyland’ is a punky one, but instead of going for an “oi oi oi” approach, the sound is more understated. Love the bass on this one. ‘Fragile’ keeps it simple too, but it made me think of Idaho, a band I adore.

And then there’s the experimental side of the band and ‘Triple negative’, an ambient piece with a funky ebow (it might be feedback, though) and a fierce drumbeat is a great change of pace. It even dabbles into dance music! ‘Interrupted monologue’, on the other hand, is more of jam/drone piece and it might be a tad long, but that’s just a nitpick, really. It is followed by ‘The God Particle’, a keeper of a track.

The album closes on a very high note called ‘In breach of nature’s demise’. Every element in the band feels in the right place, whether the strummy guitar going into a lick, the drummer having a lot of fun or the bass being the authoritative schoolmaster, it all comes together, with the shushed vocals (done by a brother/sister duo) adding an otherworldly atmosphere. The instrumental freakout is fantastic.

Apple for teacher can certainly be used as a background music while you are reading or writing, but then you’d miss a few bits and bobs of the experience, you’d be best giving it some of your time (it’s almost an hour long, but damn worth it), as you get a good album experience with these 12 tracks of experimental rock.

Words: Sam

Links: Myspace. Website. Blog. Facebook.

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