[10 March 2005]
Every now and then an album crosses the desk that makes you realize how stale popular music is in general. Oh sure, there are plenty of experimenters and proponents of weird rock and artier aspirations, but even in those molds mold grows. How many times can one hear freak music before it, too, becomes normal? Hey it happens to everything.
But then along comes this band Dufus and Ball of Design. I can sit here and safely say that I’ve never heard anything like this before or since. Listening to this album made me feel uneasy and at the same time strangely elated. That has to be a first. Usually freak rock will make one feel strange, but that’s about it. It’s a sort of black and white situation. Dufus, on the other hand, deliver—or perhaps I should say inject—a full range of emotions in every track here that could possibly make one feel like they’re either on a weird drug trip or suffering from sleep deprivation.
I really want to say that Ball of Design is Satanic. No, I don’t mean Satanic in the goofball sense of throwaway death metal bands that Southern Baptist pastors warn the already-deep-in-Sin parents about, but Satanic in the sense that if the devil sat down and listened to some rock-roll, then I think this disc would definitely be in his pile. I once heard that the huckster Anton La Vey said that Satanic music would include the likes of such weird old hits as “Telstar” by the Tornadoes. Well, throw in Ball of Design as well if that’s the case.
Dufust consist of five freaks, including Seth Faergolzia, Rick Snell, Mark Ospovat, Lucas Crane, and Brent Cole. Their first tune on this disc, “Freedom”, seems rather peaceful and hippieish in a kind way, but then things get weird and there’s this children’s choir that chimes in and it suddenly feels like Damien from The Omen is burning some ‘60s discarded icon like Abbie Hoffman alive and snorting the ashes through a straw. Or something like that. I just know it brought chills to my backbone and I never forgot it.
Basically, this is schizo pop. But brilliant. I think. I don’t know. Ball of Design is either a creepy masterpiece or just complete trash. The band sing songs like “Deemon” and “Civil War”, which commands you to “Set aside your idiot for a minute / There was an army half made of zombies / The other half was made of men from civil war / There are these creatures screeching out from over head / They order zombies to KILL KILL EVERYTHING DEAD.” Weird. Kind of like some weird old gross-out flicks of yore such as Sweet Movie and Salo got their own pop track.
But Dufus must be heard to be understood, if only fractionally. Ball of Design is an album that manages to dodge the pens of music critics because it’s completely out there. Songs twist and turn into other songs while still being the same song over and over again. Time signatures shift, things go from happy to scary in a snap of the fingers. The band members look like creepy junkyard dwellers feasting on rust and empty KFC buckets. There are strange cartoons printed on the inside of the sleeve and a picture of “Them” that looks like “they” were frozen in some brown acid on Haight-Ashbury and transported to the present where everything is now grey instead of colorfully psychedelic. I don’t know. That’s the best way I can put Dufus and this album. I simply just don’t know. But I do know that Ball of Design will have you listening again, if only as a matter of some strange perversion.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/dufus-ball/