Exposé Online banner

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

by Jon Davis, 2017-10-27:

I Calculate Great Cover art

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.


by Henry Schneider, 2017-10-27:

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.


Filed under: New releases , 2017 releases

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

More info

Latest news

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Porcupine Tree - In Absentia – With In Absentia, Steven Wilson and company add a few new tricks to their musical bag, the first being really heavy riffing. Not that a heavy riff is anything new to this band, but these are...  (2003) » Read more

The Light - On a New Horizon – Firmly rooted in the more commercial prog-rock of the late seventies, this quintet from Los Angeles have captured that nice fat sound of bands like Saga, Styx, Boston and Kansas in their heyday, a...  (1996) » Read more

Mirage - Live 14.12.94 – Another reunion dinosaur roars back to life? Mirage has come out from the near Jurassic age, taken a single step forward and unfortunately appears to die on the spot! Whereas Camel and Caravan were...  (1995) » Read more

Receptor Sight - Cycles and Connections – Besides the eight track titles, the CD packaging contains like, zero information. Recall from their earlier disc Undogmamind (reviewed in issue 27), Receptor Sight is an experimental duo from Sonoma...  (2006) » Read more

Shining - In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster – Hardcore devilry in psychotronic mode hanging about with the schizophrenic crowd. This is a rutilated ruby of the avant-progressive slant. Anyone into Cuneiform and Recommended Records catalogues will...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues