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: Appropriate Grammar - Lies and Stories

Album review: Appropriate Grammar - Lies and Stories

There’s some music that’s intricately intertwined with the feeling you get from a weekend whiskey binge. From the initial burn of the first drink to the last sip of the bottle, the emotions and thoughts that drive that binge are have long been subjects for great storytelling and songwriting. Appropriate Grammar’s release Lies and Stories is the musical equivalent to a weekend whiskey bender, if there was a universe where you could drink whiskey all weekend and still speak with eloquent clarity.

This 10-song set rambles on like the smartest heartbroken drunk you’ve ever met. Lyrically speaking, this is one of the better releases I’ve heard in awhile, so much so that I stopped during some songs to go back and catch a line again. With varied stories of fighting all night with a significant other ("Lover’s Quarrel") to dealing with an existential crisis ("Chosen Children"), the lyrical palette of this album reflects a wandering spirit coming to terms with the human experience. And it rocks.

Fast-paced shuffles by drummer Steve Gardels and jangling, well-placed guitar hooks by Alex Dunsford provide an inspiring platform for Nick McKenna’s cool and seemingly calculated vocal delivery. Bassist and vocalist Claire Adams adds color to many of these songs, particularly "High and Lonely," which gives the album some breathing room with a beautiful duet. In a weekend binge scenario, this is the song you’re listening to when the bottle runs dry, it’s time to go to bed, but you have no idea where you are or how to get home.

Not many bands can pull off rollicking, melodic songs that are emotional, smart and fun without coming off as being pretentious or downright aggravating, but Appropriate Grammar seems to have a formula down that works well for what they are doing, like an Old-Fashioned served with just the right amount of bitters.

-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 -