Local music: Math on the Range

  • Photo by Tessa Berg
    Survivalist
By Columbus Alive
From the May 17, 2012 edition

How to mock Rock on the Range while celebrating your preferred brand of obscure noise-making? For Columbus math-rock quartet Survivalist, the answer is easy: Throw your own festival and call it Math on the Range.

For those scratching their heads like it’s algebra all over again, math rock is a dense, rhythmically complex strain of indie rock that emphasizes unusual time signatures. Think of it as hardcore’s cerebral cousin, prone to scrawling sounds like endless blackboard equations.

“It’s technical music, not just easy, simple,” Survivalist guitarist Zack Holloway said. “It’s calculated-sounding music — methodical.”

Though the subgenre is not as pervasive as in the 1990s heyday of Polvo and Don Caballero, it’s still got a pulse — enough that Survivalist was able to recruit bands in the double-digits to play Friday at Campus-area creative space The Dude Locker. Most of Friday’s performers share Survivalist’s enthusiasm for snaking guitar parts, intricate structures and melancholy tones that split the difference between dream states and musty basements.

For further enlightenment, explore “Sell It To Science,” the album Survivalist will release Friday. The band has been working with producer Andrew Dodson since last June. Their effort is evident; “Sell It To Science” is a triumph of mood and texture, music not just for thinking but feeling, too.

The album chronicles a transition period in which the band ditched computers and added Big Nasty’s Will Ong as a permanent drummer.

“The show was just never intense enough without a real drum set,” Holloway said.

While “Sell It To Science” chronicles where Survivalist has been, Friday’s set will show where they’re going. A June tour, a video shoot and more recording sessions are pending, but for now the focus is the festival, which they jokingly hope will put Rock on the Range out of business.

“Hopefully it will work out, and we’ll do it again,” Holloway said. “We hope to monopolize the ‘on the range’ idea.”