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"Mathematicians w/ Vanishing Kids & Screamin Cyn Cyn And The Pons: King Club"

When pre-packaged hipster bands-of-the-moment get you down, it's refreshing to remember that bands like the Mathematicians exist. Sure they've got a gimmick- they dress and act like math nerds-but their geek-chic new wave is so far removed from music industry posturing and hype it's hard not to like. Electronic(keyboard, laptop, vocoder) and organic (bass, drums, vocals) elements meld easily on their recent second disc, Level Two, which includes the catchy, political "Weapons of Math Instruction" - The Onion- Madison, WI

"Add It Up"

Ratios, algorithms, XY axes—it all makes musical sense to Glens Falls’ Mathematicians

By Kirsten Ferguson
Photos by Leif Zurmuhlen

"Feel free to jump in on drums or any other instruments,” offers Pete Pythagoras as he and his band members gear up to play in the Glens Falls warehouse that serves as their practice space, hangout pad and recording studio/computerized think tank. They’re friendly fellows, these Mathematicians. Pete is the goofy unassuming one who shows up for the interview in a bowtie, checked blazer and red polyester trousers, brandishing fresh baked goods such as tasty cookies and muffins. Onstage he plays bass and sings with the stiff posture and clenched grin of a lifelong Pointdexter. His namesake Pythagoras contributed to the mathematical theory of music, after all, noting that vibrating strings produce harmonious tones when the ratios of the lengths of the strings are whole numbers.

Synth technician Dewi Decimal, a quieter, more studious type but just as friendly, wears black-framed glasses and a white lab coat over a striped tie. (Looking closer, I notice that Dewi’s spectacles are empty plastic frames with no lenses. Hmm.) Dewi leans over a Yamaha PSR keyboard that sometime, in a previous ownership perhaps, was inexplicably covered with blue paint. “You make do with what you’ve got,” Dewi says. He also has a Korg synthesizer and a PowerBook laptop running a vocoder.

“One plus one plus seven equals forty-nine,” counts off the disembodied HAL with calculation skills that are dubious at best, as the Mathematicians begin to play “Hypotenuse of Love.” The song has a dreamy, post-apocalyptic feel, thanks in part to its robot love-triangle subtext and moody Kraftwerk-esque synth line. (The band claim to not own any Kraftwerk or Devo records, so end your comparisons there.) The lovestruck tune has something to do with the theorem of Pythagoras, I think, which states that the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. Or something like that.

Al Gorithm, on drums, just may be the secret brainchild behind the band. Accordingly, he’s the most nerdish-looking, wearing the largest oversized glasses (taped at the bridge) and the loudest synthetic-fibered pants (an unappealing crap-brown color) while demonstrating the most appalling affinity for plaid. Al, who warns me early on about the decibel level of the band’s practices, is a maniac on stage, somehow managing to stand up and hop frantically while keeping time on drums and playing programmed beats off his tabletop sampler. Still, there’s no singular frontman in the band. All three Mathematicians trade off on vocals and write their own lyrics, which name-check equations, ratios, and algebraic functions the way some bands write about fighting, drinking or getting laid.

These are the Mathematicians. Their motto is, “Calculating the equation of rhythm plus melody equals bringing the pulse to the people.” They aim to please. The band’s best mathematical metaphor is found on the song “4 Eyes.” On the recorded version, Pete raps over a horn section and soaring female backup vocals as a drum track ticks at 86 beats per minute, far too slow for such a dance-floor anthem. “Who cares if your suit clashes/We’re no dance floor fascists,” Pete declares in a demonstration of true nerd democracy. “It’s 4 then 4 on the XY axis/Free your mind and wipe your eyeglasses.”

The band’s mathematical precision was applied quite studiously to their self-released debut album, Level One. Dewi and Al produced and engineered the album during a three-month period last winter, while Pete was busy booking the band on a nationwide tour that took them from Buffalo to Spokane, Wash., in April and May. (Highlights of the tour—including lots of shots of kids dancing spastically—were captured by the band in a hilarious tour montage video that can be viewed at

As Al explains prior to the band’s practice at Mathematician headquarters, the goal for the album was to combine the consistency of electronic music with the more organic sounds of live instrumentation. “Basically the album is a hybrid of electronic and acoustic instruments. All the drum tracks on the album have both electronic drums and real drums. The kick drum sounds and the snare drum sounds were samples. We first made outlines of the songs in Reason,” Al says as he shows off the software on his PowerBook G4 laptop. “It’s a virtual rack of samplers, drums and synthesizers. It’s a tool for making electronic versions of songs. We built all the songs in Reason before doing any recording. Basically, we made maps of the songs, cheesy versions that were all electronic and perfectly to tempo.” At Edie Road Studios in Greenwich, the band then used the studio rooms to record drum, bass and keyboard tracks directly into the computer. Al played the drums listening to the songs that had been made in Reason, to capture the flawless tempo. “All you need to have is a click track, a beat, with an original source that’s perfect, so your tempo is perfect,” he says, demonstrating—who would guess—all the perfectionism of a mathematician.

“What took the most time was editing,” Pete adds. “If we were doing this with tape, it would be nearly impossible. So many bands are doing things this way now. The technology is there. It’s cheap. These programs make it more accessible for people to have a lot more options when it comes to recording music. When angst-ridden teenage kids couldn’t play their guitars, but they did it anyway, it’s the same thing. Kids who can’t play their instruments can record this way,” he says, likening the new technology boom to previous decades when the DIY movement took hold of rock. (Of course, the Mathematicians can play their instruments, I will attest.) “New instruments are making new sounds happen,” he adds. “It’s still rock & roll for me, it just sounds different.”

At live performances, Al hooks his laptop up to the stage speakers (necessitating a loud PA) and plays elements of certain songs through his computer. “What’s kind of cool about what we’re doing, in my opinion, is that all over the country on tour we kept running into these one-person bands, where somebody would play all their sequences [on a computer], like karaoke, and then sing over it. It’s refreshing. I think it’s awesome,” he says, citing artists like synth pop musician Anna Oxygen from Olympia, Wash., and one-man electro-funk band the Show Is the Rainbow from Lincoln, Neb. “We wanted to be able to have certain sounds onstage and we thought, ‘How will we do it?’ Inadvertently, we were combining this karaoke style with a live style,” Al continues. “We’re doing both, playing instruments and sequences. I’m proud that we’re doing that. I think it’s cool. If Bjork was poor, she’d be doing karaoke-style music right now.”

“Cellos are expensive,” Pete quips.

Merging elements of electronic music with the live performance values of rock & roll is not necessarily new in other parts of the country, but in this area a lot of bands tend to stick to more traditional, well-defined genres. It’s somewhat surprising, then, to find all this innovation taking place in Glens Falls, a town that barely has a venue to play in. But the Mathematicians are a window to a surprisingly fertile Glens Falls-Lake George scene. They are part of the Tali Tribe, a loose consortium of bands and artists who share a Web site, members and practice space. (Other Tali Tribe acts include electronic-hiphop collective Blue Water Tribe and experimental rockers Pink Hearse Paparazzi Project, to name just two.) The Mathematicians and their band friends put on shows at Sweet Cravings, a Lake George coffee shop that is one of the only North Country venues currently hosting original music. They also organized the Guerrilla Picnic, a two-day outdoor showcase for local bands that unfortunately was shut down at the end of the first day.

“If there’s nothing going on, let’s have something going on,” Pete says, explaining the Tali Tribe perspective. “You can always do it yourself.”

Agreeable chaps, these Mathematicians. Just don’t make the mistake of mentioning any of their look-alikes, who are sometimes spotted in civilian clothes. The Pete imposter is rumored to have his own record label called Make Your Fate, and he reportedly once worked for the lo-fi label K Records in Olympia, Wash. Pity the reporter who makes a clumsy reference to “stage names” at the close of the interview.

“Stage names?” the three Mathematicians ask, staring at me incredulously. “What stage names?” - METROLAND, Albany, NY

"The New Math"

The Mathematicians
Level One (self-released)

After the countless per mutations, combinations and recombinations of rock bands in the Capital Region, there’s finally a band who perfectly balance the equation of smart, modern, fun and danceable, all while staying within the wonderful tradition of pop music. The Mathematicians have invented a type of postmodern music theater, with technology-obsessed high-school-math nerds Pete Pythagoras, Dewi Decimel and Albert Gorithim IV playing music that’s somehow hipper than thou whilst ever know. Level One wraps itself around the tradition of electronic-based music while seemingly wrapping it all up at the same time. Starting with Devo and ending with pre-IDM techno, with all derivations of pop, dance and ’80s hiphop fit between, the Mathematicians have met with the teacher, pulled all-nighters, and studied their tighty-whitey-clad asses off to get their homework done in time for this album.

The best songs on Level One, like “Not A Theme,” “Binary Girl” and “Subtract My Life,” are sharp, hard-hitting foot-stompers that would’ve been at home on Devo’s Are We Not Men, We Are Devo. The lighthearted disco-reggae ditty “Cruisin” tells the story of a shady male robot trying to pick up a female robot with the help of his electro-gas-hybrid convertible (and the line “So, if one plus one equals you, can I get the sum?”). “Child of Satan” is Gorithim’s paranoid freakout, a countdown lesson on the postmodern family unit given by a demented Count from Sesame Street. “4 Eyes,” an amateurish hiphop rant by Pythagarous, sounds so much like Lamar’s rap in Revenge of the Nerds that you wonder why they don’t just cover it. As good as this album is (and really, it’ll be one of the best this year), some may be thinking warily about the math-geek shtick as being, well, too much.

Shticks are usually a hazard zone. They can provide lowbrow amusement or be inviting to the uninitiated, but more often they’re boring and unnecessary. Rarely is a shtick prerequisite to the music, the lack of which might undermine an artist’s aesthetic aspirations (think Elvis, Kraftwerk and the Beastie Boys). But that’s how it is for the Mathematicians. It helps that their music is so shockingly good, and being able to pull it off live is equally impressive. But in the end, this is dorky, futurist techno-rock, so who better to make it than dorky, futurist techno-rockers, even if fictional and exaggerated? Rather than get stigmatized for being another hipster band, the Mathematicians are better off subverting the whole enterprise and dorking it out as far as they can. If this is devolution, we’re better off than we thought.

—John Suvannavejh - METROLAND, Albany, NY


By J. Wallace

Robot punk! The Mathematicians invaded Chicago's Texas Ballroom during the opening weekend of the month-long Select Media Festival, complete with nerd glasses, lab coats, and volumes almost at the pain threshold. Once the opening strains of "Binary Girl" began, it was clear this ain't your typical NY art-attack group. For a start, in this hyperactive trio there's only a bass guitar, computer gear, keyboards, and a drum kit (expertly battered nearly to death by Albert Gorithm. Yes, the whole band has math gimmick names: Pete Pythagoras on bass and vocals, and Dewi Decimal screaming, rapping, and handling keyboard duties). On stage it looks like too much to keep track of, but somehow the band pulls it off. And this bunch likes to whip out a rhyme or six. Sample lyric from the album LEVEL ONE: "It's 4 then 4 on the XY axis / Free your mind and wipe your eyeglasses." The group gets crazy with the algebra, alright. Standouts from their set included "Weapons of Mass Instruction" and "Child of Satan". The Mathematicians appeared completely tireless, going from one high-energy electro-assault to the next with hardly a breather in between. The equation also includes the right balance of high-end synth noises and thick, rock-bottom bass, giving the group a full sound-far better than if they had relied on a metallic guitar sound to fill up sonic space. Because of this, the band is louder than god but easier on the ears. Who needs a six-string when you have a stage full of circuitry? By the time "Malfunction", "Harpsicode", and "LCD" were over, the band had gotten as much mileage as possible from the math-geek gimmick; but the performances change texture so much that it's not really a one-note joke. This is a group that could easily wear out their welcome with high-concept obsessiveness. Knowing that is half the battle-and The Mathematicians won it fair and square at the Texas Ballroom. - Skratch- Chicago, IL

"The Mathematicians - Duffy’s Tavern - 5/4/05"

The Mathematicians were absolutely charming. Their music blew the place into a frenzy. It supported what I learned in “Revenge of the Nerds,” in that nerds are indeed more than meets the eye. Pete Pythagoras, bass/vocals, was best at playing the part, with his stiff body stature and timid speech. It’s really cool when bands present personas that make you wonder how much is theatrics and how much is real. They also wore authentic wardrobe, including extremely clunky, plastic glasses, bowties, and plaid suit coats and pants; all slightly ill fitting of course.

Like The Flaming Lips, The Mathematicians are masterful at audience manipulation. They weren’t hesitant to join the crowd, get in people’s faces, or just generally explode with passion for exciting the senses. Gorithm’s eyes made me think he took magical speed that never wears off. An audience member tried to give his dog tags to Pythagoras, who said “That’s heavy, man,” and graciously returned the military memento, which I’m sure the individual was grateful for upon returning to sobriety.

What I realized more and more in listening to their debut album, Level One, The Mathematicians are aware of the impact created by starting small and building sound into climax. The climax during the Duffy’s set occurred during “Hypotenuse of Love,” when the sound descended upon the room like a flood burst. The tune possessed the audience and caused a massive release of dancing and overall insanity. The feeling I got from The Mathematicians is that playing small-ass venues for who knows how many people always wins over some stationary, well-paying “real” job.

The Mathematicians rank at least in the top three of bands that soared above and beyond my expectations. Other contenders include Parliament Funkadelic and the Jazz Mandolin Project. Pythagoras, Gorithm and Dewi Decimal, keyboards/vocoder/vocals, rap like they invented the style. Their music’s often electronic, but it’s engineered so well that you can feel a human touch. I guess I was expecting some nice electro-punk, but I ended up with a sonic assault worthy of uncontrollable ass shaking. They taught me that Satan likes to dance too, and the dark lord’s rhythms are downright nasty. It feels good to hear beats from below. - Joe Younglove
- The Star-City Scene- Lincoln, NE

"Best Live Experience (Nerd Damage)"

Some might criticize the band’s devotion to its nerd-rock shtick, but onstage, the Mathematicians live their nerd-rock personas. The conviction is infectious (to the extent that some fans have even been seen dressed in nerdwear out of allegiance to the band). Constant touring has honed the Mathematicians’ live performance, and at any given show, you’ll see a circle of fans gathered in front of the stage, bouncing along to the catchy tunes, completely won over by the band’s dedication to its songs about life vis-à-vis algebraic functions. On paper it may sound trite, but live, the Mathematicians experience is nothing short of a fun time. - Metroland- Albany, NY

"Geek-themed music thrills crowd at Cultural Center"

Okay, here’s the scenario: You’re in a moderately sized room in the back of the building, along with a crowd of about 40 people. Standing room only. There are three guys in the front of the room dressed as stereotypical nerds: Dewi Decimal in black pants, a short-sleeved white button down shirt, and a thin black tie; Pete Pythagoras in a plaid suit; and Albert Gorithm IV (Al Gorithm for short) in a red sweater vest and grey pants.
They’re dishing out a combination of alternative rock and techno with enough reverb to vibrate the cinderblock walls and half the crowd is jumping up and down as the performers throw themselves around the pounding rhythms with an almost manic intensity. Where are you? Why, the Mathematicians concert Friday night at the Chapel and Cultural Center, of course.

This trio of arithmetically-themed rockers has made a name for themselves in the Capital Region, with frequent concerts at local venues, often performing with other local bands. This time, the Sixfifteens opened for the Mathematicians.

The Sixfifteens were good, but nothing special. Their standard rock sound had strong beats and rhythms, but most of the vocals were inaudible, and the ones that were won’t win any Pulitzers. But, as an opening band, The Sixfifteens did their job: warming up the crowd.

The energy the Mathematicians induced in the crowd was astounding. Their first number, “Binary Girl,” was a ripping techno piece that instantly revved the crowd, and it only increased from there. Dewi Decimal in particular distinguished himself in this respect by almost literally bouncing off the walls as he sang, even pushing himself into the crowd.

Songs with names like “Weapons of Math Instruction,” “Malfunction,” “Input/Output,” and “4 Eyes” followed. Some were weirder, like “Child of Satan,” which counted up through one woman, one man, one child, one robot dog, Pete Pythagoras’ eyeball, and one spawn of Satan, until reaching that special number, six. But every single song had the crowd—which was mostly college age—jumping up and down.

It was clear that the Mathematicians had some longtime fans in the front of the crowd. At one point, Dewi Decimal even gave one fan his mic while the Mathematician tended to the digital rhythms spewing from his keyboard and G4 laptop.

As if the Mathematicians weren’t strange enough, one further element of their mystique is their denial that they are anything but their Mathematician personas. If you walk up to Dewi Decimal and ask him, “Okay, seriously, what’s your real name?” He would answer, “Dewi Decimal,” and the other two would do likewise.

Maintaining their identities is a critical part of the atmosphere that the band brings to the stage. Their motto is “Calculating the equation of rhythm plus melody equals bringing the pulse to the people.” And that they do, with a precision that can only be called mathematical.

The Mathematicians will be continuing to perform in and around the Albany area this fall; their schedule can be found at If you haven’t before, go to one of their concerts. You’ll leave with a newfound respect for the aesthetics of mathematics

-Victor Parkinson
Senior Reporter - Polytechnic Online(RPI)- Troy, NY


Level Two (2006) LP

Level One (2004) LP

Transdimensional Odyssey of Doom (2009) DVD



Mathematicians from the Tri-County Region of Upstate New York music is trans-genre. The effect is a dance party. The live show is a hallucine-genic amalgamation of music, live visual projections and midi-controlled lighting sequences capable of shaking arenas or turning a house party into a small nuclear explosion. The band members are actually not good at math.Some have speculated that this marginalization by academia is the impetus for the trio’s punk rock DIY ethos and aesthetic. They have toured the country from coast to coast, played over 500 shows in the past five years and released two albums, Level I and Level II, as well as a new live DVD, Transdimensional Odyssey of Doom.
In their travels some of the more noteworthy bands they have shared the stage with include:

Dan Deacon
Dirty Projectors
Matt and Kim
Mr. Lif
Boy Crisis
Jens Lekman
Video Hippos
Q and not U
The Blow
Anna Oxygen
Mt. Eerie
Totally Michael
Grand Buffet
Double Dagger
Human Host
Edie Sedgewick
Pattern is Movement
Attractive and Popular
The Teeth
Minus the Bear
Gravy Train!!!!
The Show is the Rainbow