Tera Melos prepare to math-rock out in Northampton

By Jackson Maxwell

This Tuesday night, Sacramento-based punk veterans Tera Melos will stop by the Pearl Street Nightclub as part of their month-long American tour. Noted pioneers of the math-rock genre, the band combines the eccentric time signatures of progressive rock, the experimentation and musicianship of jazz, ambient electronics and the aggression of punk into a single overwhelming attack.

harlandspinksphoto/ Flickr

Coming off of a triumphant tour with fellow math-rockers and Sargent House label-mates TTNG, Tera Melos is hitting the road again in support of their fourth album, “X’ed Out,” released in April. Although they have been making music since 2004, “X’ed Out” is their most critically and commercially successful album to date, garnering positive reviews from outlets such as Pitchfork Media.

Tera Melos have slightly toned down their more experimental and aggressive tendencies with this new album, but still are certainly not afraid to push boundaries. “X’ed Out” shows Tera Melos writing poppy songs that are smothered in noise, made crooked with odd time signatures and defined by a thrilling sense of unpredictability.

Formed by guitarist Nick Reinhart and bassist Nathan Latona in 2004, Tera Melos rehearsed for over a year before they made their live debut and their first, untitled album in 2005. Completed with guitarist Jeff Worms and drummer Vince Rogers, the band’s untitled debut was an instrumental, highly experimental record. Filled to the brim with distorted guitars, wild rhythms and experiments like its half-hour, free-form, noise-meltdown closing track, “Melody 8,” it gained them a cult-like fan base around the United States.

After the 2007 EP, “Drugs to the Dear Youth”, and the departure of both Worms and Rogers, the band brought aboard drummer John Clardy, solidifying the power-trio lineup they retain today.

During this transitional period, Reinhart began contributing more and more vocals to Tera Melos’ previously instrumental sound. By the time of their long-awaited second album, 2010’s “Patagonian Rats,” Reinhart had become the trio’s vocalist. “Patagonian Rats” showed a much more accessible, tuneful side to the band that listeners had not seen before. Although the music was still unquestionably twisty and difficult, songs like “Frozen Zoo,” “The Skin Surf” and “In Citrus Heights” actually had conventional verses and choruses. The album played a huge role in expanding Tera Melos’ fan base beyond the band’s modest roots.

Touring with the likes of Maps & Atlases, Marnie Stern and Firehose, the band further increased their reputation as a fearsome live act. This constant touring also gave the band plenty of time to hone the material that would eventually become “X’ed Out.” While still hard to pin down, some of the tracks on “X’ed Out” almost come off as classic skate-punk tracks. Perhaps as an homage to their California roots, “X’ed Out” tracks like “Tropic Lame” and “Sunburn” have sunny harmonies and light, playful guitar work from Reinhart. This new, more accessible sound gives even more variety to Tera Melos’ already diverse sound.

With each passing record, Tera Melos seem to be getting more varied and impressive. They will bring their sunny, complex, experimental and twisty math-rock to Pearl Street this Tuesday. The band will be joined by openers Fang Island and Zorch. Tickets are available for $12.50 in advance, or $15 at the door.

Jackson Maxwell can be reached at [email protected]