The New Sound of Numbers
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The New Sound of Numbers

Athens, Georgia, United States | INDIE

Athens, Georgia, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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"The New Sound of Numbers - The Old Name Is Back With a New Lineup"

Hannah Jones, leader of local avant-garde, electropop act The New Sound of Numbers, is just finishing practice. Bandmates Jeff Tobias (Nutritional Peace, ex-We Vs. the Shark) and Greg O’Connell (Quiet Hooves, Bubbly Mommy Gun) offer warm greetings on their way out of her cozy home practice space/ recording studio, which is bedecked with examples of her own original artwork. Needless to say, Jones, who also plays in the workaholic band Supercluster, is a busy woman, even on her day off.

“We just finished up a two-hour practice,” she says, taking a seat between a drum set and a complex array of production equipment. “It went pretty well. I’m really excited to be playing again.”

It’s been quite some time since The New Sound of Numbers reared its quirky head for a show, having been on hiatus since the tragic loss of original member Randy Bewley (Pylon) last year. In that time the band has also seen core players Suzanne Allison and Charlie Johnston move away, and thus the lineup is somewhat different now from what many folks may remember. “I still sing and play 12-string guitar,” Jones explains, “and now we’ve got Greg on drums, Jeff on bass, John Fernandes (Olivia Tremor Control, The Instruments, Raw Ass Temple, seemingly hundreds more) on violin and clarinet, and Jessica Hay on percussion and backup vocals. William Kennedy (Reptar) will also be adding some extra percussion, and I’m hoping to get Jessica on some synths in the future, too.”

In addition to the shakeup in membership, the band briefly flirted with a name change, going so far as to set up a new MySpace page under the moniker Sound Houses. “Yeah, I’m not sure why I did that,” Jones says, laughing at herself, “it was just a whim I guess. I saw it in a passage by Francis Bacon and liked it. But we’re back to the original name now. As for that, I think the way it came about was, I had a song called ‘The Sound of Numbers,’ and when I saved it, it was a ‘new’ file, so it popped up as ‘New Sound of Numbers,’ and I liked the way that sounded, so it became the band name.”

The band’s first album, Liberty Seeds, was released on Cloud Recordings in 2006, and Jones is thrilled about the impending release of her sophomore effort. “We’re working on a new album,” she begins. “I’ve been recording and mixing everything here. A lot of the stuff I’ve already finished features Randy, and the older lineup, but most of the newer songs will have everybody that plays with us currently. For this show, we’ll probably play about half old stuff, and half new stuff. We’re charging $3 at the door, but everyone who comes will also get a free CD.”

While the personnel may have changed, Jones says that the band’s musical direction is still much the same. “The new stuff may be a little bit more driving, a little bolder,” she notes, “but otherwise, we’re pretty much the same.” Since it has drawn comparisons to experimental acts like Sun Ra, Can, This Heat and The Raincoats, one can safely assume that any stylistic explorations the band pursues will bloom into a cornucopia of further possibilities. The kaleidoscopic diversity of these influences may sound daunting, but Jones couches her eclecticism in accessible pop structures, creating music that is both challenging and a hell of a lot of fun.

Despite her success with Supercluster, and many of her bandmates’ equally full hoppers, Jones insists that The New Sound of Numbers has returned for good. “I’m back at this full-time now,” she proclaims. “Everything’s going great, and I’m really happy to be doing it again.” Though the equation may be different, the end product is still the same, and with the versatile Jones at the helm, The Numbers will likely always Sound New.

David Fitzgerald - Flagpole, Athens, GA

"63 Crayons, The New Sound of Numbers, Young Sinclairs"

Flagpole, Vol 21, no. 8, article by Emerson Dameron - Flagpole, Athens, GA,

"The Sounds of Science"

Article by Mosi Reeves - Creative Loafing, November 16-22, 2006, Mosi Reeves

"The New Sound of Numbers"

“Maybe that’s not the kind of snack you want,” says the scratchy voice at the opening of the album. “You need a new snack. Something entirely new, and fresh.”

Nothing ego-stroking there: it’s actually a very apt summary of Liberty Seeds, the first album by The New Sound of Numbers. Across thirteen tracks, visual artist and Circulatory System percussionist Hannah Jones defies the expectations that come with being affiliated with the Elephant 6 collective. She is not out to create the perfect two-minute pop song. She’s out to make something like her circuit-like, surrealistic, glowing canvases–but with lyrics and a beat.

Prior to launching The New Sound of Numbers, Hannah dabbled in sound with Lorkakar, which released two handmade CD-Rs containing ambient sound and electronic chirpings (she hasn’t abandoned Lorkakar, and recently revived the incarnation for a performance at the AUX experimental music festival in Athens). This new band seems to have been slowly in development as a private exercise before she enlisted members of Circulatory System to help flesh out her songs. As a result, the compositions on Liberty Seeds are densely layered: you can swim around in these tracks again and again, and there’s always new sights to see. And like the compositions of CS leader W. Cullen Hart, Hannah has lyrical obsessions that are repeated consistently throughout: frequencies and airwaves, machines, animals. It’s music for humans who are fighting their temptations toward the cyborg, or vice versa.

But it all sounds like it comes not from some cyberpunk future, but a vision of it from the early 80’s, when an artist could take influence from Brian Eno or John Cale or Sun Ra and end up as The Buggles or Tom Tom Club. The New Sound of Numbers might be closer to the source, and genuinely experimental, but you can’t help getting your groove on with tracks like “Tuning the Air” and “Good Things Are Coming.” On the other hand, there’s a lot of Lorkakar left in smaller, transitional pieces like “Gonna Be Okay.” And how great is the opening of “Experiment 24,” which perfectly merges its electronic beat with mournful violin?

Hannah keeps her voice at a declarative monotone for much of the proceedings, which gives the impression that it’s just another instrument to merge with the bells, bass, and percussion. On “La,” she breaks with the monotone and simply reverberates the title word against an organic wall of strings and vox–because the effect is nice. The high point of the album’s experimentation is the final track, “is is was was,” an epic, densely-layered high-rise of a piece driven by distorted drums and electronica.

As I said a few months ago, this is music to drive fast to, but pay attention to the painstakingly handmade landscape speeding by. Key contributors include Kathryn Refi, Heather McIntosh (The Instruments), Bill Doss (Sunshine Fix), and W. Cullen Hart and John Fernandes of Circulatory System. This is one of the more compelling releases to come out of Athens this year. - Optical Atlas

"Raven Sings the Blues Online Review"

Cloud Recordings doesn't put out many records, so when they do come out they are usually of a high caliber. Their latest release is from Hannah Jones, contributing member to Circulatory System and The Instruments. The project called The New Sound of Numbers has a high focus on rhythm in a cloud of experimental pop with a smattering of no wave influences. Jones would not have been that out of place on a bill with DNA or maybe even the Slits. Deadpan Nico vocals float in dry space over scattershot rhythmic tinkerings and keyboards with more squiggles than crinkle cut fries. Jones lists herself first and foremost as a visual artist which may explain why the music seems to unfold like snapshots of abstract paintings lying by the roadside. The New Sound of Numbers' Liberty Seeds is out October 10th - Raven Sings the Blues

"Liberty Seeds reviewed by The Philler"

The New Sound of Numbers

Liberty Seeds
Cloud Recordings

The city of Athens, Georgia has spawned plenty of dreamers whose warped ideas of pop music tend to fly in the face of what most of us are used to (R.E.M., The B-52s, Olivia Tremor Control, etc.). It should be no surprise then that the debut album by Hannah Jones (member of post-OTC group, The Circulatory System) playing under the name, The New Sound of Numbers, should be a thing of tripped out beauty with nods to influences ranging from the seminal Rough Trade compilation, So You Wanna Buy A Bridge? to the freakbeat jazz of Alice Coltrane and Cecil Taylor.

As her day job is as a percussionist with the Circulation System, the beat and rhythm of most songs on this disc tends to hold sway over everything else. Whether it is a Steve Reich-esque chorus of multi-tracked voices singing a sharp pattern of 'la's (appropriately enough on the song, "La") or a drum beat that gets more and more fractured and overmodulated as the song progresses (found on "Is Is Was Was"), Jones loves to keep something pulsing through each song to play the collaged bits of sound and lyrics off of.

Then there are the lyrics which are more than a match for the fractured beauty of the music it accompanies. Jones writes with the same style of cut-up /zen koan as Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), using snippets of ideas and emotions to bring about her visions of "sleeping underneath the pavement" and the "reduction of humanoid female." Jones sings them with a quiet beauty with spikes of well-deep emotions that strike from where you least expect it. She may come off as detached upon your first listen, but further inspection will show how deep she has her hooks in every inch of these songs.

This album is an acquired taste to be sure. If you can imagine and would appreciate a mish-mash of influence from all the bands and artists mentioned in this review, this disc would be well worth your time and money. If not, you might be better off dipping your toe into what's offered here rather than going for a full-out dive. It will take you a bit longer to immerse yourself, but the end result is just as rewarding.
-Bob Ham -

"The New Sound of Numbers Top 10"

The New Sound of Numbers

The Elephant 6 collective made a shitload of good music. Neutral Milk Hotel and the Olivia Tremor Control garnered tons of fans, and rightly so, but neither band was built for the long haul. OTC’s Will Hart and NMH’s Jeff Mangum loved skirting the spotlight and made some of their best music as the Athens, Ga. outfit Circulatory System. The band’s percussionist Hannah Jones learned a thing or two from these indie rock reverends and eventually rearranged the System into her own band, The New Sound of Numbers. Same members for the most part, including Hart, but Jones wrote, recorded and arranged all of the songs. The New Sound’s debut album comes out on Cloud Recordings on Oct. 10. Jones took part in this week’s listed.

1. Nina Simone - “Revolution”
This is one of the most motivating songs I have ever heard. To my mind it is the most rock-inspired song she ever did. I don't think it’s very well known - I think that most people would associate her with her moodier bluesy and jazzy tunes. I like a lot of those as well, but this one song invokes a true feeling of hope and change. Check it out!

2. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - Dap Dippin’ (Daptone)
Through researching a lot of old soul, funk, and rhythm ‘n’ blues bands, I ran across Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. I bought the album Dap Dippin’ after listening to and loving some of the song samples online. I originally thought that the music must be from the ’70s (there was no recording date listed anywhere), but eventually found out that the album surprisingly is from 2002. I would compare the sound to several songs on Jean Knight's 1971 Mr. Big Stuff album. But then there is the song "Got a Thing on My Mind" whose intro rhythms sound like they could be a Can song. And there are lots of beautiful horn arrangements. So there are many surprises and interesting facts involved here.

3. Sly and the Family Stone
Regardless of the direction his life eventually took, Sylvester Stewart's early positive efforts have to be commended. Sly and the Family Stone is amazing feel-good dance music that has an agenda of harmonizing all aspects of society. Not that the music is without feelings of pain, but it confronts heavy issues with great optimism. I was completely struck by footage I saw of the band on the Dick Cavett show. I was impressed both by the performances and by Sylvester Stewart's personality. The interview segment of the show revealed a warm and genuine character who strived to avoid conflict while not ignoring that there were issues to be addressed (political, racial, etc.). Observation of the band's configuration, appearance and lyrics reveals a group of people who become representatives of unity and strength. The band is composed of both female and male, black and white, and I sense that this fact is no accident. It is a potent symbol of the harmony they are trying to achieve. Sylvester Stewart in one of the segments is wearing a six-sided star (Star of David) which, when leaving behind its religious meanings, is a symbol of balance and unity. And there are of course the lyrics, which had a dynamic effect when there are both "blacks" and "whites" singing. And Cynthia Robinson really rocks the trumpet. Definitely one of my favorite bands.

4. David Byrne - Ile Aiye (The House of Life) (Plexifilm)
This is a DVD released in 2004 but filmed, I think, in 1987. It is a documentary "portrait" of the Candomble who live in Brazil, and whose lives are infused with music, dance and ritual. Music, to me, is at its best when it inspires transformation – whether that means changing a person's mood or state of mind, or connecting her or him to what they feel is a "higher power." The Candomble use music to connect with their deities and try to allow the music to completely take over their bodies. We, in our society, may do the same while observing live music performance, when we allow ourselves to absorb the sounds that are moving around and through us. We may not display it as physically as the Candomble, but still we are affected by it. Even people who are completely scientific and objective about life cannot deny that sound vibrates the cells of our bodies. Some may view the Candomble and similar peoples as "the other," but really they are not that far removed from us. They just choose to celebrate life more through symbols and rituals.

5. Janis Joplin - “Summertime”
One of my favorite songs of all time. It gives me chills every time I hear it. Nina Simone's version of the song is great as well, but it doesn't completely stop me in my tracks the way Joplin's does. I've heard people say that Janis Joplin is not a good singer, and I think that is a crazy statement. I think she has an enormous amount of soul.

6. Sun Ra Arkestra
Sun Ra is obviously a complete anomaly in history. And I guess that makes sense since he claims to be from Saturn. His persona seems as though it should have existed either in the ancient past or the f -

"The New sound of Numbers"

ark E. Smith, The Fall’s marble-mouthed front man, once stated that the secret of song lay in the three R’s: repetition, repetition, and repetition. It’s an adage The New Sound of Number’s Hannah Jones has taken to heart. Liberty Seeds is full of riffs that roll over and into themselves; beats that build and bend backwards until they find themselves at the beginning; and phrases thrown out over and over again, like (hopefully sticky) mud in a political campaign.

The New Sound of Numbers are an Athens, GA based band, whose principal player, Hannah Jones, also plays percussion in the second generation Elephant 6 sextet, Circulatory System. Two of these ex-Olivia Tremor Control members (John Fernandes and Will Cullen Hart) return the favor by appearing on Liberty Seeds (most notably, Fernandes’ violin). A visual artist by day, Jones layers each song with swathes of sound, stealing OTC’s found-sound approach, but eschewing their 60s pop sensibilities for a more post-punk methodology. Only “Good Things Are Coming” comes close to OTC’s psychedelia. If you’re looking for the obligatory Elephant 6 comparison, think The Music Tapes avant-garde adventures.

Percussion dominates, with each song built on chugging steam train rhythms. It’s a hypnotic and hymnal metronomic mash, as abrasive as it is angelic, and as organic as it is robotic. It’s the sound of Stereolab falling down a flight of stairs. With each bounce perfectly timed. Each roll reliably executed. And though drums (and myriad other percussive persuasions) direct the proceedings, they’re more of a binding force than a melody maker—synths, guitars, violin, and the odd kazoo, each crop up to accent Jones’ distant vocals.

Lyrically, the album juxtaposes Jones’ intonation and the rhythmic and robotic music it sits atop. The sweet, often multi-tracked vocals are an angelic antidote to the instruments, which, at times, sound like they were dropped inside a pinball machine. Animals and organisms, living breathing things, rear their heads in several songs. “Tuning the Air” states that “Animals organic systems / Influence our compositions.” One song is called “Minimal Animal,” and several others make mention of nature, flowers, and seeds, sometimes several times within the same song.

Album opener “Frequency Transmission Systems” sets up the repetitive stall. A slightly subdued affair, the steady beat allows Jones (who wrote and arranged all the music) to wax lyrical; part manifesto (“In jumps another dimension / Natural action / Systems balancing / Rewrite the imagination / Energy set for liberation”), part precocious self-help (“In everybody there is a seed that knows the walls holding you will soon dissolve.”) Each line is repeated and reinforced, with the first verse alone fed to us four times. Only at the end of the song do we hear our first un-repeated phrase (“activate”) as if Jones has addressed her agenda and is ready to move on.

As with The Fall, the repetition works, the songs burrow and bore, but, like an 18-inch pizza, Liberty Seeds is difficult to digest in one sitting. Taken as a slice or two at a time though, and it makes for a satisfying whole. On “Experiment #24,” Jones asks: “What are the limits of our physical side?” After listening to Liberty Seeds over the past several days, it sounds more like a challenge than a question. - Kevin Pearson, Stylus Magazine

"The New Sound of Numbers - "Liberty Seeds" reviewed by Mia Clarke"

Given that she is a percussionist for Athens, Georgia outfits like Circulatory System and the Instruments, it's no surprise that Hannah Jones uses textural, rhythmic layering and interplay as the defining elements of her solo project, The New Sound of Numbers. For her NSON debut, Jones is assisted by members of fellow Elephant 6 groups Olivia Tremor Control and Elf Power, but she moves away from their hazy, tripped out neo-psychedelia into the realm of modulated Krautrock beats and experimental electronica.
On the album's firm yet playful highlight, "Minimal Animal", Jones double-tracks her flat vocals to emulate medieval chants, while the silkily powerful bassline and tribal rhythms nod to The Slits and Lizzy Mercier Descloux. Less pulsing and concise, "La" is a more immediate example of Jones's use of her voice as much as a rhythmic tool as a melodic one. By effectively repeating one not, Jones creates an echoing sprawl of percussive vocals, like a child calling out in a stretch of empty caves.
Elsewhere, she and the group cover more dissonant ground. On "Is Is Was Was", the throbbing, heavy opening beat collapses under a wash of electronic distortion to unravel a section of Sun Ra-like Improv bristling with anxious violin scratches and chaotic washes of guitar. As with this track, much of the music on Liberty Seeds sounds like segments of a yet to be arranged mosaic. The songs have a disjointed quality that feel as though everything could fall apart at any moment - yet the arrangements maintain a consistency of character and concept that belie the fragility of their form.
-MIA CLARKE - Wire Magazine December 2006

"Marathonpacks online review by Eric Harvey"

There's a friction here, between what this song seems to be striving toward, and how it actually ends up presenting itself. It's aiming to mimic the chilly distance between (female) performer and performance that was achieved so perfectly twenty years ago by Kleenex/Lilliput, Delta 5, the Raincoats, and Siouxsie Sioux, and ten years before them by Nico. It's an endlessly attractive style; one that manages to exude sexuality without being even remotely sexual, or achieve coldness by exuding warmth (or the other way around maybe). It's a political move, and one that I never tire of. But the way "Minimal Animal" (mp3) actually ends up sounding is another story, I think. The New Sound of Numbers is from Athens, Georgia, and count among their members some refugees from Elephant Six also-rans Circulatory System, and I won't go any further with the rural psychedelic genealogy down there, lest my eyes move closer together. What the connection highlights, though, is the song's root in the same sort of backporch chemistry-set aesthetic that I might have just conjured from memories, but is how I remember the CS album, which I like very much by the way. And the languid violin threading throughout the song contrasts in all kinds of appealing ways with the William Gibson-meets Wire detached-romanticism of the lyrics: "the velvet animal/the fat chains harmonize/what force is muting the sudden appearance/of words and thoughts." It's what Greil Marcus (buy) would perhaps refer to as "a voice that through worry, sarcasm, irony, panic, or humor is manifestly trying to figure things out. It's a distanced voice, antinaturalistic, almost never direct---the voice of an observer or of one observing oneself. Most strikingly, it is an anonymous voice."


LP - "Liberty Seeds" 2006



The New Sound of Numbers is an experimental post-punk band based in Athens, Georgia. Their sound radiates an urgency that expresses yet parallels themes of existential anxiety with an intuitive hope. Percussive layers build the songs and balance themselves with 12-string electric guitar, bass guitar, violin, clarinet, and multiple female vocals. They have been compared to The Slits and Lizzy Mercier Descloux
The New Sound of Numbers debuted with the album "Liberty Seeds" in 2006, released on the Cloud Recordings label. They have toured with Pylon, Circulatory System, and The Instruments.
Influences include The Raincoats, The Slits, Sly and the Family Stone, and anything with a driving rhythm.
Currently the band is working on a new record which is nearing completion.


# JEFF TOBIAS (We Versus the Shark, Quiet Hooves)



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"Within its first 45 minutes, "Liberty Seeds" conjures the straight-faced wackiness of Fluxus, the wobbly space funk of Sun Ra, the cleansing monotony of This Heat and Can... and that's just in the first three tracks."
Emerson Dameron, Flagpole

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"Percussion dominates, with each song built on chugging steam train rhythms. It's a hypnotic and hymnal metronomic mash, as abrasive as it is angelic, and as organic as it is robotic. It's the sound of Stereolab falling down a flight of stairs. With each bounce perfectly timed. Each roll reliably executed. And though drums (and myriad other percussive persuasions) direct the proceedings, they're more of a binding force than a melody maker - synths, guitars, violin, and the odd kazoo, each crop up to accent Jones' distant vocals."
Kevin Pearson, Stylus