x
Artist of the Month
the_deli_magazine

 
deli cover

 

 

August 2015
HMPH!
"Headrush
"
mp3
Simply stated, the music of HMPH! could be described with a term like math rock or experimental jazz fusion. But these terms, while accurate, don’t paint a complete picture of the sounds created by guitarist Ryan Lee Toms and drummer Jonathan Thatch. “Just when you think you got the groove, we switch it up, add a few beats, or throw in a chord from another key,” says Thatch, whose mastery over the drum kit is jaw-dropping. And while rhythmically complex, progressive compositions have become a cornerstone of the math rock genre, HMPH! additionally incorporates elements of jazz, ambient rock, alternative, and metal.
 
On Friday, the duo will be releasing its debut album Headrush (Haymaker Records), a 36-minute instrumental effort that showcases HMPH!’s dedication to push the envelope while keeping its music interesting. Nine of the 10 songs clock in under 5 minutes, keeping a fresh, brisk momentum for the entirety of the album. The listener has a chance to delve in to each song, but is pulled out before it becomes indulgent or formulaic.
 
Many of the songs start with a basic guitar riff that is bent and twisted in multiple directions, meandering from its original shape but always returning to it. From a polite jazz lick to a climactic rising arpeggio, Toms designs unpredictable, jagged noises with his guitar. “The harder it is for us to wrap our head around a riff, the more fun it is to write and the more enjoyable it is to dissect as a listener.” His combination of intriguing guitar sounds with Thatch’s intricate drum work shows that they’re very much up to the challenge. “Sometimes it starts with a complicated polyrhythmic drum part from Jonathan and I’ll create a progression to that. Other times, I’ll zone out and write arpeggios while thinking of decrepit medieval castles that kind of remind me of all the video games I played as a kid. Then I bring them to Jonathan.”
 

At the same time, Thatch is creating his own variegated sounds with just a five-piece drum kit. He often provides a countermelody to Toms’ guitar, building upon dynamic layers with odd meters, polyrhythms, subtle dynamic shifts, and rhythmic intensity. “One quality we strive for is to keep people guessing,” he says. This even includes retooling songs on the spot. “Our songs tend to keep evolving over time. We might be playing a song live and try something new, and we like the new sound so we keep playing it that way. Sometimes we don't even talk about it; we just both know how it goes now.” 

Rate the Artist:


Please visit The Deli's full web charts organized by genre and region.


Go to Charts

Cancel

scene blog

Album review: Deco Auto - Past Mistakes and Hauntings EP

Album review: Deco Auto - Past Mistakes and Hauntings EP

Past Mistakes and Hauntings, the debut release from pop-punk trio Deco Auto, rips out of the garage with a mission to go, and it never looks back. From the first note of the album opener, “The Mercy Kind,” you assume you’re going to be in for a fist-pumping, air guitar-playing joyride. And you’d be right in that assumption. Wound tightly like a fist, this collection of catchy, energetic songs strikes a blow to anyone who might have thought power-punk trios were ruined by the likes of Green Day.

The hook-centric guitar work of vocalist/guitarist Steven Garcia is prevalent throughout the four-song EP, as well as his ability to find vocal lines that are accessible and rooted in pop music. The guitar tone is spot on for Deco Auto’s roaring renditions and is complimented by quality sound engineering. This extends beyond the guitar to bass and drums, as well, giving the album an energy that’s hard to capture for a lot of bands.

Bassist Tracy Flowers and drummer Michelle Bacon’s presence on these tracks is undeniable, keeping the band locked in and moving forward with each thump of the bass drum. “Pointless Fight” is a perfect example of what a solid drummer can do for a band: tight stops and starts, all the while keeping the attention and focus on the song. “I Shouldn’t Know,” which lends the lyric for the EP title, has Flowers center stage while she delivers a vocal melody that you’ll be humming the rest of the day. It’s this combination of aggression and sweetness that makes Deco Auto a worthwhile listen.

My only complaint about this release is that it’s only four songs. After listening to it, I definitely wanted it to keep going. After all, my air guitar was just getting warmed up.

Deco Auto celebrates its EP release tonight, July 6, with a special party at the Midwestern Musical Co. with local power pop legends The Pedaljets. The trio is throwing a second party next Friday, July 13, with an in-store performance at Vinyl Renaissance on 39th St. alongside Kelley Deal (The Breeders) and Mike Montgomery's (Ampline) project R. Ring

--Mike Tipton

Mike is a KC native that enjoys new music and playing with his band, Molly Picture Club. He also enjoys people watching and documentaries by Ken Burns.

|
|

aom
Who's your favorite emerging KC-area artist on this list?

[sponsored by]




- news for musician and music pros -