Fog’s Andrew Broder is probably who I’d resemble most if I were making music (that, or a modern rip of Talking Heads, with orchestra). His bio speaks of the normal things in his life: coffee, records, girlfriend and more records. Hailing from Minneapolis, Broder sounds like the atypical male music geek who finally got his shit together and put out some finely tuned experimental albums. Ether Teeth was one of the best releases last year and it seems that with Hummer, things are naturally progressing in the right direction. Listening to Fog albums, it’s easy to feel the desire to create something that is at the same time experimental and easy to listen to. ‘Comfort’ is a word that came up a lot when I thought of Ether Teeth and the same goes for Hummer. It’s not so much that you feel comfortable when listening to these songs but rather the songs themselves possess an air of comfort, as if they were created and finally executed without struggle or negotiation. Listening to the songs is another story; they demand attention as well as an appreciation for deconstruction and subtle electronic nuances. Nothing on Hummer feels tossed off. Even the out-there tracks and eccentricities feel lovingly attended to.
“Whom That Hits Walls” opens the EP with horns and crashing cymbals, eventually dissolving into electronic blips and beeps before returning again to the same horn tooting melody. When all is assumedly back to normal, the song has a nervous breakdown, manipulated to a point where everything is jumbled together and reversed. The albums title track (and its most lovely song) follows, opening with varying recorded vocal tones and a plodding drum beat before segueing into the wonderfully subdued chorus, Broder singing the refrain “Were you born to be a sprinkler system in a thunderstorm?”
There are a couple of missteps here, such as the annoying baby talk of “I, Baby” where the listeners attention inadvertently focuses on the ‘ee’ sound added to the end of each word, ruining an otherwise decent song. Luckily things recover quickly with Hummer’s most challenging track, “Melted Crayons.” Here, Broder creates an uneasy ‘melody’ centered around old instrumentals cracking on vinyl with an additional faintly pulsating beat. The light marching drums kick in while weird imagery is spewed forth like “Drink melted crayons, Foofie. Drink every colour in the box.” Things proceed into a delightfully anticlimactic, mournful soup of sounds, half of which I can’t explain. “Cockeyed Cookie Pusher” follows with simple acoustic guitar and Fog’s most beautiful singing on record.
EPs are rare in my record collection; only essential releases such as Rome (Written Upside Down) EP and personal favorites such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs EP are able to stay. While Hummer may not be up to par with EP’s like those, it will remain because of Fog’s ability to provide the kind of downbeat, eccentric indie boy songs that I’ll never be able to make. If Hummer is any indication of what is to come, I anticipate the arrival of Fog’s definitive statement and greatest album.
/jan 15th 2005/