Review: Fomosurfer – Don’t!

On the Facebook page of Lowell-based synth-rock eccentric Fomosurfer (The solo project of Inspector 34‘s keyboard prodigy Silas Price) the one-man electronic beat dispensary is described as “a humble hit machine made out of proteins” (Which frankly is selling himself short), while categorized as “dunce music.” If by “dunce music” Price was referring to a frenetic mixture of retro-beats, thick walls of synths and glitchy effects, and an incomprehensible stream-of-consciousness vocals that would make weirdo rock acts like The Residents and Ween raise an eyebrow, then right on. In a scene dominated by indie guitars and punk sneers, Price’s Fomosurfer project stands out as one that dares to be weirdly unsettling behind a tower of synths, keyboards, and antiquated drum machines. It’s the kind of music that somehow manages to be irrepressibly wonky, lush and full of multitudes, snarkily irreverent, and noisily angular all at once.

To best fathom this primordial soup of sounds, one needs not look any further than Fomosurfer’s latest full-length release, the appropriately snarkily titled Don’t! Fomosurfer has never been an act that’s accomplished anything by standing still for too long, and Don’t! is no exception to this pattern; while Price’s distinct blend of synth-driven songs punctuated with stabbing noises and a surrealist attitude is still the word of the day, he also takes the opportunity to jump ceaselessly from genre to genre with every track, effectively creating 12 different flavours of fusion-goulash across Don’t!‘s nearly 36-minute running time.

At one moment he slows things down with maudlin, loungey piano ballads on “Ought To Be In A Zoo”, at another point he dips his toes into Casio-driven glitch reggae on “Remarks”, only to immediately dive headfirst into the hard-charging, discordant synth-punk of “She’s Gonna Crash Her Car” at another. Nowhere is Price most at home on Don’t! however, than when he’s channelling a clear and present love for new wave weirdo forebears DEVO on tracks like “Red Light Means Go”, and early single “My Stuff”, all bolstered with his distinct vocals, which can range from a stentorian Weebl-like baritone to an extra nasal Billy Corgan, if he’d been binging on They Might Be Giants b-sides. Don’t! is an album filled with just as many double-takes as quirky and unconventional synth-rock songwriting, and demands your full and undivided attention as it delights you with untempered confusion.

– Lilz Martin

For Fans Of: DEVO, Ariel Pink, Steve Burns, Mr. Weebl, Neil Cicierega

Key Track: “My Stuff”