Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

Dufus

1:3:1

(ROIR; US: 30 Sep 2003; UK: 20 Oct 2003)

Consider that Dufus is fronted by singer Seth Quankmeyer Faergolzia, a multi-instrumentalist who designs clothestumes, conceived the musical theater called *Fun Wearing Underwear*, uses his own idiosyncratic spelling, is most likely mentally disturbed, has a voice like the guy from novelty band Green Jell-o, created “The Complete and Absolute Disassemblement of Reality”, and is essentially the embodiment of antifolk. Once that’s all clear, you’re ready to pop 1:3:1 into your stereo.


The antifolk scene started about twenty years ago when performer Lach, after being booed off a stage in the Village, opened a club for people of his ilk. Antifolk combines the sensibilities of folk bards like Woody Guthrie and early Bob Dylan with the attitude of the punk bands such as the Sex Pistols. The resulting music has a varied sound, and antifolk refers more to a scene or a movement than an actual genre. For the most part, bands in this populist-but-inaccessible movement seldom come to national prominence, but Beck, King Missile, and the Moldy Peaches have had some commercial success.


The antifolk scene is a perfect fit for Dufus and Faergolzia. Dufus combines an array of musical influences to produce a scattered and frequently irritating sound, occasionally reminiscent of bad metal bands, occasionally of the Flaming Lips, and occasionally of something incredible. Electric guitar is at the forefront of the sound, but a variety of instruments from an “experimental orchestra” appear on 1:3:1, each used primarily to create chaos and dissonance. Sometimes we do get a more traditional sound, as on the surprisingly moving “Deepr N Lov”, but those times are rare.


Of course, Dufus’ goal isn’t to make us comfortable, but to communicate with us honestly, and when someone as odd as Faergolzia manning the helm, we shouldn’t expect to find tradition. Faergolzia writes primarily of the interpersonal splits caused by contemporary culture, and attempts to heal those splits. Some of these splits stem from the youth culture and the primacy placed on athletic success. Both “Heisman Ball” and “Donnah Mattr” mock the values of the sports-focused. At the same time, Dufus invites the athletes to join in the new culture and to ‘truss in wut y know”. In “Jocks Carrying Dildos”, Faergolzia sings (even to the title characters), “Wen thes iz neu thing / Nobodie else’s doing / y hoep y all cn come along”.


The invitation might seem like neo-hippie dreaming, but Dufus knows life isn’t a straightforward pursuit. In “More Girl Cops” (the album’s strongest track), Faergolzia explains, “Lief duznt feel t real t me t b honest”. He dwells on the animal nature inherent in humans and the nearly irrepressible urge to commit violence. It’s not the most profound examination of humanity’s dual nature that you’ll find, but it’s certainly one of the oddest, capped off by the bitter suggestion that if we want to save the world, we’ll need “mor grl cops”.


If all this sounds crazy to you, you’re on the right track. In “Making Go Crazy/Real” Faergolzia explores the unreality of life he referred to earlier, as well as the desire to rip out that part of the brain responsible for craziness (but also, perhaps, for real knowledge). To sit at his table, he says, you’ll have to meet him halfway, suggesting that you bring him a glass of water to show your respect.


Crazy or not, the lack of respect will bring consequences. In “Mothr Yere”, we’re warned “Y’l b surprized bi the mouth tht bites yer hand / Wen y feed it bullshit”. The invitation to join is open to all, but the repercussion to those who don’t will be great. The next and final track, “Fire” explains that “fire wil spred, it wil burn” while the music sounds like the paranoic at the mic. Faergolzia throughout the album has been exploring the binaries of real/unreal, animal/human, peace/violence, but he ends with an awful voice. The revolution will be real and it will be graphic. But this is antifolk, so at least it won’t be televised.

Justin Cober-Lake lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, kids, and dog. His writing has appeared in a number of places, including Stylus, Paste, Chord, and Trouser Press. His work made its first appearance on CD with the release of Todd Goodman's first symphony, Fields of Crimson. He's recently co-founded the literary fly-fishing journal Rise Forms.


Related Articles
7 Dec 2009
Anti-folk poster boy Seth Faergolzia now sounds like any other grovelling love fiend.
By Jason Thompson
10 Mar 2005
Dufus's Ball of Design can make one feel like they're either on a weird drug trip or suffering from sleep deprivation.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.