Please forgive any initial bias in this review, for last spring, my girlfriend had subletted her Lower East Side apartment to two members of this band, Tom and Jesse. And while they did a lovely job redecorating the storefront/bedroom they temporarily called home, these transplanted Oregoners seemed to revel in their bizarre middle-eastern tinged, avant-garde “noise” project, JOMF.
In recorded form, these layered clinks, squeals, strums, and beats come off slightly like a group of Arabic musicians in Appalachia-horns blow out of tune over flutes blowing out of tune, while a rusty banjo is plucked behind them. Not so much a cohesive song structure as a collection of fragmented parts larger than the sum of the whole, Fig.5 is pretentious, at times unlistenable, but often strangely intriguing. An unrecognizable cover of “Amazing Grace,” goes by virtually unnoticed, although a vague gospel feel is prevalent in the choir undertones seething in and out of tracks. Although they’ve since moved out of the Ludlow St. flat, this record, and its aesthetically attractive layout (removable cardboard inlays and all), is a testament to a time and place when someone pressed “record” on the four-track, and magic happened. Whatever.