Exposé Online banner

Opposite Day — I Calculate Great
(Future Banana Replacement , 2017, CD)

by Henry Schneider, 2017-10-27:

I Calculate Great Cover art

Austin’s Sam Arnold and Opposite Day are back with a vengeance on their new album, I Calculate Great, their tenth album. Looking at the cover art, I surmise that a couple of panda astronauts in an alternative universe made some wrong calculations with their “Panda Formula,” developed a “Radar Face” by staring at the screens too long while suffering from scurvy and trying to answer the question is there “Life on Mars?” subsequently landing on the wrong planet in their Mercury capsule in the middle of a tornado and getting stuck in a tree. The pandas then investigate the “Noise Noise” heard on entry and assess “All of Our Mission” by walking in a field of poppies and carrying a six-pack Igloo cooler. But perhaps I am reading too much into this. Coming from a different angle, I Calculate Great presents eight new original songs and two cover tracks that blend heavy bass riffing ala Les Claypool, rapid aggressive drumming, strong progressive guitar work, and the Tornadorchestra (mallet percussion, piano, cellos, woodwinds, violins, violas, and trombone). Opposite Day’s new drummer Eoghan McColskey is excellent and full of energy. And of course Sam Arnold on guitar and Greg Yancey on bass continue to push the envelope. The guests, The Tornadorhestra, include members of other bands in the Austin community such as Stop Motion Orchestra, The Invincible Czars, and Sam Arnold and the Secret Keepers. The two cover tunes, for me, are the album highlights. It is very brave of Opposite Day to cover David Bowie, especially one of his iconic tunes “Life on Mars?” Opposite Day have actually reinterpreted this song using their distinct sound. In fact, you don’t even recognize the song until Sam’s voice enters with the lyrics. They have created an excellent and wonderful heavy prog-metal version. And the album closer, which is arguably the best track on the disc and could be the best Opposite Day tune ever, is their superb rendition of Ravel’s “Bolero” that showcases each band members’ strong chops, be it on drums, bass, or lead guitar. Sam’s multi-layered guitar shows a true appreciation for this well known classical music piece. And just like an orchestral performance, Opposite Day slowly builds to a bombastic climax and essentially a “mic drop” to close the disc. Opposite Day are on tour during October 2017, so if you happen to live in Austin,TX, Denton, TX, Kansas City, MO, Lawrence, KS, or Tulsa, OK make it a point of hearing them live.


by Jon Davis, 2017-10-27:

Let it never be said that Opposite Day are slacking in any respect. Since 2008 they have released a string of recordings that have honed their “math-pop” sound to a fine edge. What, you might ask, is “math-pop”? It’s a lot like math-rock only more melodic than your average practitioner, so you have complex metric structures, interlocking lines on the bass and guitar, and precise coordination between all the parts. But on top of that you have Sam Arnold’s great voice belting out catchy melodies with interesting lyrics. All of this is packed into concise songs, none of which tops five minutes in length, and it never really tips into metal territory in spite of the flashy guitar work. There’s a relentless energy that can leave a listener longing for a little break, but no, they dive right back into another crazy riff with sixteenth notes on the guitar, with only brief sections of relative peace. Greg Yancey’s bass is fluid and funky, meshed precisely with Pat Kennedy’s drums, and they always know where the one is, even if the listener gets lost. Arnold’s guitar parts are all over the place, with arpeggios, countermelodies, tapping, wild solos, and effects, and how he manages to sing and play such parts at the same time is beyond me. For this studio recording, he’s also overdubbed a lot of extra guitar and vocal parts, and Yancey adds some keyboards, further beefing up the sound and adding some variety. In a few places, there are guest players as well, contributing brass, woodwinds, strings, piano, and mallet percussion. Their take on Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” brings the iconic song into their idiom, though it is somewhat less frenetic than the average Opposite Day original. Very wisely, they end the set with a short arrangement of Ravel’s famous “Bolero,” which is by far the least complicated thing they do, building the familiar melody over the course of four minutes to its big climax. I Calculate Great is an impressive album from start to finish — just don’t expect to get any time to breathe while listening.


Filed under: New releases , 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Opposite Day, Sam Arnold / Secret Keepers

More info
http://oppositedayatx.bandcamp.com/album/i-calculate-great

Latest news

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Electric Orange - Orange Communication – Some may recall that we reviewed the original Electric Orange album back in issue #4. That album, essentially the project of Dirk Jan Muller and friends, was a modern interpretation of the spirit of...  (1996) » Read more

Phish - A Live One – Ask any Phish fan and they'll tell you that the band's natural habitat is most definitely on stage, in front of a live audience. So after five studio albums, Phish finally present a sonically...  (1995) » Read more

Various Artists - Unsettled Scores – Various artists compilations don't get much better than this. From what started as a joke four years ago, comes the long-awaited double disc release of Cuneiform artists covering other Cuneiform...  (1996) » Read more

Neil Sadler - Theory of Forms – Theory of Forms is a high-energy blast of horn-powered energy almost from start to finish. Sadler is an accomplished composer, keyboardist, and percussionist, and he’s recruited a crew of Zappa...  (1999) » Read more

David Cross - Exiles – Treading on the remnants of your Crimson past can be a vain attempt to recapture or rejuvenate interest in your modern endeavors. Happily I can relate David Cross' new solo work, Exiles does not...  (1998) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues