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Pitchblende Quartet was a Washington, D.C.-based math rock band whose only fault was that its sound, while not really derivative of any one artist, wasn't terribly distinctive. On the surface, Gygax is just another solidly constructed but rather ordinary-sounding math rock record: it has Slint's chiming, clean-toned guitar harmonics; Rodan's chunky, dissonant chords; and barked, tag-team vocals that sound a bit like the Volcano Suns. But as a sort of primer on all the things math rock can be, it's just about unbeatable. Pitchblende demonstrates mastery of eerie, tense, space rock-like buildups ("Squeezin's From the Mole Jug"), ultra-complex rhythms ("Mercator Projection"), and pounding post-hardcore breaks ("Sideling Hill"). Best of all, the group throws in enough head-turning half-hooks to keep the album from feeling like an exercise. Gygax is one of the most consistently enjoyable math rock records of the mid-'90s.

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