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Gypsum Gives A Salute to Math Rock With Angular Single “Kaleidoscope”

“I probably spent a year on a million variations of this main guitar riff before landing on the version that I liked,” says Gypsum’s guitarist and vocalist Sapphire Jewell about the indie rock outfit’s new track “Kaleidoscope” off their critically-acclaimed self-titled debut album (released on October 12, 2021 via Sonic Ritual). “I have a voice memo that’s 11 minutes long of me just vibing on that weird mathy riff because I loved playing it so much. It’s definitely one of those riffs that physically feels good to play.” Rounded out by drummer Jessy Reed and guitarist and vocalist Anna Arboles, Gypsum is a synergistic exercise in collectivist arrangement, dissolving artistic ego into cooperativity. Rock NYC lauds that the live version of “‘Kaleidoscope’ is a powerhouse, “with an all-voices chorus synergizing with guitars and drums so perfectly the music could have been able to move the ceiling of the venue.”

As a group, Gypsum cites influences as diverse as punk, prog, jazz and psychedelia and takes inspiration from genre-hopping jazz and punk acts like Hiatus Kaiyote, DIIV and Foals. For “Kaleidoscope,” the band leaned heavily into their math rock influence. Jewell adds, “It was a challenge at first for the band to lock in the timing since it’s changing time signatures almost every bar, but we love playing it and now it’s second nature. We also lost our minds when our mixer, Gavin Paddock, added something to punch up the pre-choruses that we’d never thought of but fit perfectly. It’s one of my favorite parts on the album too.” Arboles chimes in saying, “My approach for this song was stepping on all my guitar pedals at once.” Reed adds, “For those about the math rock, we salute you.”

Gypsum was recorded over a 14 day period at Station House Studio with engineer Mark Rains (Tanya Tucker, Alice Bag) and is a deeply rewarding listen dense with mystery, complexity, darkness, majesty, and beauty. A great showcase of some of the album’s themes and textures comes from the previously released singles: the lustrous, percussion-driven “Follow Me” which was inspired by the people throughout history who have been forced to leave their home and seek refuge, “Give It” about self-determination and identity and features mesmerizing hi-hat work and chasmic, stop-and-start waves of Sleater-Kinney-esque guitar interplay and their most collaborative track “Lungs” which features outer space riffs cacophonously coalesce over sophisticated snare patterns and is about breaking out of your own body to get what you want.

Assembled through the knotty intersections between guitars, imploring harmonies and exploratory rhythms, Gypsum features all three members on backing vocals, Jewell and Arboles’ voices blend with atomic affinity, rich alto leads encircled by hazily imploring harmony stacks. Reed, whose interest in Brazillian polyrhythms and Latin percussion inflect her performance, used a hodgepodge of kits ranging from the 1930s to present, swapping out toms regularly and changing snare tunings to accommodate her “sounds and vision” for each track. While the guitarists’ lifelong love of riot grrl and grunge inform the dynamic builds of their intricate fretwork.

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