This story, like all stories worth telling, begins with Charlie Brown. Specifically it begins with A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Last December the 'Sponge crowd and assorted hangers-on tripped over to The EARL to partake in Atlanta's most hep-cat Christmas party - Jeffrey Butzer's annual performance of Vince Guaraldi's masterpiece soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Hipsters and indie-rockers soaking up the jazz and totally dancing non-ironically to the Christmastide joy. With the Peanuts! It doesn't get much more cred-tastic than that, kids. Plus you get to do the Snoopy dance in public.
The 2010 show was opened by a local math-rock outfit called Sorry No Ferrari performing The Ventures' Christmas album (brilliantly titled The Ventures' Christmas Album.) Going in I had heard neither The Ventures' Christmas Album nor Sorry No Ferrari, so I was quite pleasantly surprised to completely lose myself in the surf-rock Yuletide. Yay, beaches! Yay, Christmas!
Between sets the lot of us were talking and socializing, as we are want to do. The subject of Sorry No Ferrari's latest album, 2010's Ternary, came up. Christmas spirit. Excellent show just played. "Sure man, I'll review it! Send me the download link!" This is where it all goes wrong.
Now, all things considered, you wouldn't think it too hard to write up a CD, would you? I mean, give it an honest listen or three, open up a notepad and knock out a few paragraphs. Bang, bang, you're done. It's April. Ain't no procrastination like a 'Sponge-man procrastination, my friend.
I was originally a little off-put by Ternary. I came into the band blind, no experience or expectations other than the Christmas show. Did I expect a track list of holiday tunes in classic surf-rock style? Well, no. But I'm not sure I was really teed up properly for the mathy McMatherson mathematics of the math-rock either. Maybe that's why I never managed to spin it up properly and write the damned review. Yeah, that's it. Contrary expectations totally stole my homework.
Coming back to the disc a few months later, and knowing what to expect a little more going in, I'm far more grooved into the sound now. Sorry No Ferrari do straight up instrumental math-rock. (Have I mentioned the math yet?) Some other sites call them "heavy progressive," and I guess I can see that. They're certainly proggy, that's for sure. A lot of their riffs could be dropped into a Kings X or Rush song with little editing required. I'm not sure they qualify for what I would call "heavy" - I mean, I spent the darker days of last winter listening to GREYMACHINE, right? But still, I can see the descriptor as apt.
Now, being a music nerd from Atlanta and hearing a dueling-guitar, prime-numbers driven time signature instrumental math/prog band going full on at the craft, I can't help but compare SNF to local godfathers The Purkinje Shift. No, the youth doesn't match up quite yet. Who could? I'm not sure I'll ever see a drummer the likes of Scott Robbins again. But these guys are no slouches. They know their counting, and their time changes, and their intricate fret work. And the percussion adds in backbone - there's some double kicks in there, which is maybe where the "heavy prog" thing comes in - what it lacks for Robbins' percussive genius.
Listening to the disc is best done without reference to track breaks or track names. There's no real reason to try to note where Ternary I slides into Ternary II, or where Ternary III melds into Ashar for that matter. The album is a singular set, meant to be taken as a totality. There are no radio singles here. And that's good. It suits the genre.
Having finally come back to it, I'm pretty impressed with the disc and even more so with the band. Ternary is a solid five-sponge offering. Fans of the genre should love it, but it remains accessible and listenable to non-devotee ears. Sorry No Ferrari are an excellent set of musicians, and their ability to slide from their preferred style to spot-on renditions of surf-rock holiday standards speaks highly of their tastes and their ability. I shouldn't have put off listening so long.