Opinion Review

Black Math: Death, Existing & Other Joys Of Life

Black Math’s latest release enters the realm of their preceding discography like a thief in the night, almost slipping through the cracks of our radar last December, yet spellbinding enough that an assortment of words undoubtedly calls to be thrown in its direction.

Glossing across an immersive rock compilation of punk, garage, psychedelic, stoner, and metal-inspired progressions, Black Math unapologetically plunges each listening ear into a sonic voyage five-fold. ‘Why’ initiates this immersion as the opening track, breeding the first wake of their explosive energy and ruthless sound alongside a tempo that steadily tests itself in cadence and delivery. Time signature variations are sustained going forward, presenting a percussive technicality that Acacia Van Wyk’s hand at the kit, from start to finish, masters. Distorted vocals are met by accents of percussion, for instance, in the droning of ‘Sweet Dull Warmth’ that plays rather fluently with a simple technique of emphasis.

Parallel lines of bass and guitar also overlap one another through melodies that host the same notes, yet diverge in contrasting melodic textures that share either gritty or fuzz-fuelled channels. Together, Tyla Burnett’s acutely controlled basslines and Cameron Lofstrand’s isolated leads amass an enveloping haze of experimentation where chaotic and disorderly motions of pure force are skilfully executed.

“Time is no longer a thing/ Feel, feel death’s peaceful grip on your skin,” roars forth in ‘Forwards Backwards’ as Lofstrand’s high-pitched vocal howls develop its own remarkably transcendental grip upon one’s skin. Each scream matches Black Math’s foregoing live dynamic, as I witnessed briefly during the group’s set at The Good Luck Bar in Johannesburg last month when Lofstrand jumped off the platform only to wildly spiral across the floor in an unhinged and unrestricted manner.

The album’s overarching phrasing, however, isn’t entirely raucous as delicate and subtle nuances emerge within the latter section of ‘Sunset’ and the album’s closer ‘Exhale’. Listeners are offered a final breath as the tireless and unrelenting stroke of ingenuity apparent to “Death, Existing & Other Joys Of Life” culminates in an unforeseen instrumental-only acoustic track.

Varying colours of tone resonate across this release, rendered by a DIY approach that one may easily overlook given the technical calibre and unexpected sensitivity Black Math so carefully continue to characterise as each year passes.

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Listen to “Death, Existing & Other Joys Of Life” below on Soundcloud.