Poly-Math on Omar Rodriguez Lopez

Fast becoming cult-favourites and respected luminaries of the UK’s underground progressive music scene, Poly Math are making experimental music that pushes boundaries in just about every direction possible.

With appearances at ArcTanGent Festival, PORTALS Festival, and Weird & Wonderful Festival followed up by a UK tour with Coldbones, Poly-Math will be taking their traditionally-studio-based approach to music to wider audiences than ever before.

The band’s previus record, double album House of Wisdom | We Are The Devil, was released back in 2018 on Lonely Voyage Records and Nice Weather For Airstrikes, drawing support from BBC Radio One’s Rock Show, Metal Hammer, Kerrang! Magazine, The Independent, Guitar & Bass Magazine, PROG Magazine, Revolver Magazine, Total Guitar, Modern Drummer and many more.

Joe Branton, the bands bassist, writes for us about his, and the bands love of Omar Rodriguez Lopez and his contribution to the wider world of experimental music.

Omar Rodriguez Lopez

Omar Rodriguez Lopez has the ability to be at once technical, but incredibly sloppy; progressive, but punk; incredibly complex, but still manages to create grooves and riffs that people can dance to.

His work in any of the ORL Projects from El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez to Bosnian Rainbows is always completely fearless – he’s never making music for anyone other than himself, and that sort of creative freedom is very inspiring.

Most of the members of Poly-Math grew up on Punk and Post-Punk, and it wasn’t until I heard the first The Mars Volta EP, that I even realised you could go that far off piste, and it not be snobby…or rubbish. 

His eccentric use of modulation and gratingly harsh cocked wah was something I’d never heard before, it was so refreshingly punk, but with all the best bits of 70’s Prog, and wonderfully original Latin influence.

We would check out his ‘rig rundowns’ on YouTube to find out what gear he was using and immediately go out and purchase it. His pedal boards were always massive and I feel like he inspired the entire genre of Math back in those early days. Everyone started buying the biggest board possible and filling it with vibratos and pitch shifters; even if other bands weren’t emulating his style, they were emulating his gear, and the massive range of tones he had available to him.

One of the most influential moments for us was when ORL came to our home town, Brighton UK to play a show with his band Bosnian Rainbows. At the show he did an interview with a guitar magazine for YouTube, and during the interview he described how he used the thickest strings he could possibly get and had a custom guitar built for him with a neck as thick as a baseball bat, so that playing the guitar was a battle. 

He made it harder for himself rather than easier, just to see how the limitations shaped his playing. It was such a bizarre concept, and one that we immediately imitated with our own set up.

Omar Rodriguez Lopez’s music showed us that it was OK to keep your mistakes in your records; there is nothing more organic and human than trying for the solo and keeping the slight fluffs. It’s what separates us from computer music, and why none of us have ever been interested in modern metal and it’s increasing focus on technical perfection and macbooks.
When we started as a band Poly-Math were frequently described as being very The Mars Volta in style. With the addition of new instruments over the years we’ve shifted now, but I think Omar’s projects taught us more about trying to make music for yourself rather than for anyone else, and a sort of basic disregard the obvious.

Of everything he’s worked I could never get all 4 Poly-Math members to agree on a single album…. There have been nearly 30. I think of all his releases the 2008 The Mars Volta record, The Bedlam in Goliath is a massive feat of complete musical genius. With a new enhanced line up and more members than ever before, ORL put together a vibrant, aggressive, crazy masterpiece, and I think we will love it forever!

The artwork especially for the record is a wonderful, colourful painted scene by Jeff Jordan, who created 11 unique paintings for the record, each representing a different part of the complex narrative written by Omar and Cedric Bixler-Zavala. 

ORL’s music is such a consistent journey, with evolving genre, style, and instrumentation throughout. I’m not sure anyone can stand up to the prolific nature of his writing and releasing of music, and whilst that does mean he’ll sometimes put out an album of weird noises called, ‘Woman Gives Birth To Tomato’ his catalogue is also filled with wonderful gems and absolute masterpieces.

Many thanks to Poly Math for taking their time to profess their love of Omar Rodriguez Lopez. The band are on tour in February with The Guru Guru and are gearing up to release their new album in 2020.

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You can listen to Poly Math’s latest release, here.

Poly Math: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Read more from the Why I Love archives, here.

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