"A Forest of Polarity"

(Clickpop Records/Top Shelf Records 2010)Rooftops - A Forest of Polarity

Math rock is a new genre to me. An intricately patterned style of music focused around reticular guitar riffs, or if you're not an axe aficionado (like myself) then I would describe it as layers of stop-n-go guitar tapping. What sets apart Bellingham, Washington's Rooftops' sound from other math rock is their melodic tendencies and dedication to experiment with the genre. Joining guitarists Mark Detrick, Drew Fitchette, and Jonathan McIntyre is fellow band mate Wendelin Wohlgemuth (percussion) and special guests Sarah Jerns (trumpet/flugelhorn), Kat Bula (violin), and Dylan Rieck (cello). Producer Paul Turpin says it best when he described Rooftops' debut full-length album, "A Forest of Polarity," as a "math rock symphony."

It doesn't take a wordsmith to notice that the songs on "A Forest of Polarity" are all anagrams of the album title. Nor does it take an acrobat to know that this record makes you feel like you're jumping up and down on a trampoline...then rewound, fast forwarded, and put in slo-mo. And therein lies the beauty of Rooftops' debut. Through such complex, multi-layered songs, a feeling of simple, child-like joy is experienced.

To highlight any standout tracks, would be in vain. From "I Fast Early" to the ten minute closer "Sea Frailty" a steady progression grows, making it difficult to determine when one song ends and another begins. Yet that span is not without its ups, downs, and sideways moments. The orchestral pieces on "Year of Lift" and "Leafy Stair" create a vast epic-ness to the record. Even the vocals, while sparse, showcase the potential for harmony-laden tracks in their future. There is no instant gratification of a chart topping single, but the overall mood is worth it in the long run.

In essence Rooftops have created a musical flip book with their debut effort. "A Forest of Polarity" is a series of intricately designed pieces that only become fully appreciated when they come into focus with the help of their supporting acts.


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