Mathematicians - Irrational Numbers / Factor of Four. 1994; 1996 USA

In the late 1980s through the early 90s, there was a movement for rock/jazz instrumental albums (think mid 70's Jeff Beck here), that brought on a slew of interesting releases, most of which are long forgotten today. The indie label I.R.S. started a series call No Speak, of which the majority of their roster was made up of top level electric guitarists whose commercially viable days were at least 15 years behind them (Jan Akkerman, Robbie Krieger, Wishbone Ash, Ronnie Montrose). They also had a series of compilation albums called "Guitar Speak" that were highly revered back in the day. In parallel to this, Relativity Records was pushing out albums by more trendy artists such as Steve Vai, Vinnie Moore, and Joe Satriani, while also signing up the middle generation guys like Steve Howe and Gary Moore.

Indianapolis based Mathematicians were clearly a product of this movement. It's hard edged guitar fronted fusion, with mild complexity, and a few good melodies. Keyboards are there primarily to provide accompaniment to the guitar pyrotechnics. Make no mistake, Mathematicians aren't a "guitar hero" band, as the compositions are fleshed out enough to enjoy in a listening session rather than as a "how to record" for budding guitarists. While the debut is well done, the level of intensity and songwriting dramatically improves on Factor of Four, and thus is the recommended place to start.

If you're a "man of a certain age", then this review will most assuredly bring back memories of that era, and you'll probably want to investigate these two CDs (or at the very least go digging through your closet for the IRS/Relativity albums you own... somewhere).  I bought these in the 1990s, and they've held the test of time well. In fact, they've improved with age.

Personal collection
CD (Irrational Numbers): 1994 Aljabr
CD (Factor of Four): 1996 Acme

Last listen: January 11, 2013

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