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<div><span>Simply stated, the music of <a href="">HMPH!</a> could be described with a term like <i>math rock</i> or <i>experimental jazz fusion</i>. But these terms, while accurate, don&rsquo;t paint a complete picture of the sounds created by guitarist Ryan Lee Toms and drummer Jonathan Thatch. &ldquo;Just when you think you got the groove, we switch it up, add a few beats, or throw in a chord from another key,&rdquo; says Thatch, whose mastery over the drum kit is jaw-dropping. And while rhythmically complex, progressive compositions have become a cornerstone of the math rock genre, HMPH! additionally incorporates elements of jazz, ambient rock, alternative, and metal.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span>On Friday, the duo will be releasing its debut album <i>Headrush </i>(<a href="">Haymaker Records</a>), a 36-minute instrumental effort that showcases HMPH!&rsquo;s dedication to push the envelope while keeping its music interesting. Nine of the 10 songs clock in under 5 minutes, keeping a fresh, brisk momentum for the entirety of the album. The listener has a chance to delve in to each song, but is pulled out before it becomes indulgent or formulaic.</span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><span>Many of the songs start with a basic guitar riff that is bent and twisted in multiple directions, meandering from its original shape but always returning to it. From a polite jazz lick to a climactic rising arpeggio, Toms designs unpredictable, jagged noises with his guitar. &ldquo;The harder it is for us to wrap our head around a riff, the more fun it is to write and the more enjoyable it is to dissect as a listener.&rdquo; His combination of intriguing guitar sounds with Thatch&rsquo;s intricate drum work shows that they&rsquo;re very much up to the challenge. &ldquo;Sometimes it starts with a complicated polyrhythmic drum part from Jonathan and I&rsquo;ll create a progression to that. Other times, I&rsquo;ll zone out and write arpeggios while thinking of decrepit medieval castles that kind of remind me of all the video games I played as a kid. Then I bring them to Jonathan.&rdquo; </span></div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p><span>At the same time, Thatch is creating his own variegated sounds with just a five-piece drum kit. He often provides a countermelody to Toms&rsquo; guitar, building upon dynamic layers with odd meters, polyrhythms, subtle dynamic shifts, and rhythmic intensity. &ldquo;One quality we strive for is to keep people guessing,&rdquo; he says. This even includes retooling songs on the spot. &ldquo;Our songs tend to keep evolving over time. We might be playing a song live and try something new, and we like the new sound so we keep playing it that way. Sometimes we don't even talk about it; we just both know how it goes now.&rdquo;</span>&nbsp;</p>