As fate would have it, the bright mode of math-rock seems to be in ascendancy right now. Bands like standards, Sloth & Turtle, and their ilk are taking the internet by storm. This is, of course, not a bad thing; we’ve been very favorably covering this kind of math-rock for a while now. But it appears that this is awakening is also casting a shadow, leading to a rise in technical, note-heavy music that draws on darker timbres. This is emblematic in groups like Aiming for Enrike or Poly-math releasing fantastic albums in the recent couple of years. To this undercurrent of math-rock we can now add Kytaro, bursting on to the scene with their July released White Noise for Kids. It’s an album bubbling with technicality but also a rougher, more sinister edge that should make it a favorite of those who prefer their math-rock (and post rock, to be honest) on the more muscular side of things.
The band’s Bandcamp page gives them the somewhat self-indulgent description of “pseudo-exotic psych-math trio” but honestly, if you listen to “Horsehealer”, it’s kind of accurate. The heavy synths, the fuzzy drums, the ambience filled with urban dread, all of these conspire to together make an immersive and often oppressive kind of sound. The rest of the short EP explores these ideas in a few more ways, like the opening track “Kryptogyros” which deceptively includes a few more leads that will be familiar to math-rock fans but still manages to channel the dark, bubbling power of Kytaro’s style. And I haven’t even told you about “Extra Safe Conditions”, which is the main mind-bender on this release, bringing the noisier elements of the band into a conflict of electronics, fuzz, and notes that reminds me of Town Portal or Infinity Shred.
Overall, this creates a release that feels very immediate. There is less dallying around here than is usual with math-rock today; the harsher tones makes everything condensed, compressed, and delivering right to your earholes. You won’t find your days in the sun here or the over-joyous gathering of friends or tracks evoking the sense of a party. This EP is mystical in its approach to noise and damn near haunting at times, while still presenting us with varied, layered, and interesting music. It’s an impressive debut which marks Kytaro as another name to watch out for in the nascent “Nega math-rock” scene that’s slowly building. Yes, I’m calling it Nega math-rock. Try and stop me.