The city of Athens, Georgia has spawned plenty of dreamers whose warped ideas of pop music tend to fly in the face of what most of us are used to (R.E.M., The B-52s, Olivia Tremor Control, etc.). It should be no surprise then that the debut album by Hannah Jones (member of post-OTC group, The Circulatory System) playing under the name, The New Sound of Numbers, should be a thing of tripped out beauty with nods to influences ranging from the seminal Rough Trade compilation, So You Wanna Buy A Bridge? to the freakbeat jazz of Alice Coltrane and Cecil Taylor.
As her day job is as a percussionist with the Circulation System, the beat and rhythm of most songs on this disc tends to hold sway over everything else. Whether it is a Steve Reich-esque chorus of multi-tracked voices singing a sharp pattern of 'la's (appropriately enough on the song, "La") or a drum beat that gets more and more fractured and overmodulated as the song progresses (found on "Is Is Was Was"), Jones loves to keep something pulsing through each song to play the collaged bits of sound and lyrics off of.
Then there are the lyrics which are more than a match for the fractured beauty of the music it accompanies. Jones writes with the same style of cut-up /zen koan as Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), using snippets of ideas and emotions to bring about her visions of "sleeping underneath the pavement" and the "reduction of humanoid female." Jones sings them with a quiet beauty with spikes of well-deep emotions that strike from where you least expect it. She may come off as detached upon your first listen, but further inspection will show how deep she has her hooks in every inch of these songs.
This album is an acquired taste to be sure. If you can imagine and would appreciate a mish-mash of influence from all the bands and artists mentioned in this review, this disc would be well worth your time and money. If not, you might be better off dipping your toe into what's offered here rather than going for a full-out dive. It will take you a bit longer to immerse yourself, but the end result is just as rewarding.