By now, you’ve probably seen us rant and rave about the new wave of “post-math rock”; more specifically, the trend of bands blending the traditional bouncy melodies of math rock with post-rock structures, jazz-influenced technicality, and generally progressive and experimental ideas. As I’ve outlined before, Art As Catharsis and Small Pond have been the two most important labels in fostering this movement, which continues with their release of the latest exceptional album from Irish trio Alarmist. There’s really no need to parse words here: Sequesterer could very well be the quintessential post-math rock album we highlight while reminiscing about the micro-genre years downs the road. It’s truly that much of an instant classic.
Every band in the scene emphasizes different aspects of this genre synthesis, with some groups striking a jazzier tone and others amping up the technical aspects of math rock riffing. Alarmist, on the other hand, take a maximalist approach to song craft; their music culminates into a kaleidoscope of bold compositions bursting at the seams with infectious energy. Beyond the musical intrigue and complexity the trio packs into every track, Sequesterer is simply a fun listen through and through. It’s one of those rare intersections of stimulating musical ideas and endlessly entertaining performances.
In the pursuit of their compositional goals, “District of Baddies” acts as a perfect launching point. It introduces the foundational concepts that define Sequesterer: vibrant, kinetic electronics and guitar riffs dancing around skittering, fluid percussion. Essentially, if Jaga Jazzist became obsessed with Battles and decided to put their own spin on math rock, something resembling Sequesterer would likely be the result. Later cuts like “Boyfriend in the Sky,” “Expert Hygiene,” and “Kalite Quest” develop in much the same way, though “Boyfriend in the Sky” carries a more relaxed, almost tropical vibe. This sense of wonderment and celestial atmosphere acts as a steadying commonality through Alarmist’s musical wizardry across the album.
Having such an inventive spirit leads Alarmist to craft some truly unique iterations of their formula. I never thought I’d use a comparison like this, but “Lactic Tang” legitimately sounds like Flying Lotus crafting a beat almost exclusively with Animals as Leaders and T.R.A.M. samples. Trust me, it’s as unexpected and amazing as it sounds. Immediately after, “Life in Half Time” continues this quasi-jazz rap streak with a breezy, piano-driven instrumental.
As we touched on with our premiere last month, “Bronntanasaurus” has perhaps the most realized vision (and best track title) on the album. Though a bit shorter than opener “District of Baddies,” Alarmist’s progression of ideas is arguably at its peak on “Bronntanasaurus.” The interplay of synths, guitars, and percussion flows effortlessly and carries a bit of an artsy, jazzy vibe throughout, similar in a way to micro-genre peers The Biology of Plants. Immediately after, “Nvymr” serves as the perfect calm release for the album, with light percussion and soothing, echoing melodies.
Sequesterer is the crowning achievement of a band who have already helped redefine their micro-genre with the preceding releases in their discography. Alarmist excel at leveraging every aspect of the established post-math rock formula and applying it to their own unique, enthralling interpretation. This is essential listening for anyone remotely interested in math rock, which will remain the case for years to come.