by Larry Kerr
November 1, 2000
I'd like to introduce you to a band that's fun, boisterous, and a little bit twisted. A band that is as original as it is musical. A band that takes it way over the top and completely over the edge.
Please keep in mind, this is no ordinary group. This is a band that places wacky synth themes, soulful pop tunes, and mock-rock anthems on the same album. A band that features analog synth, banjo, and jaw harp in the same song. And in case you haven't realized, this is a band that names its debut CD after a holiday-season kitchen utensil!
If you haven't already made their aquaintance, meet The Mometers.
Without a doubt, the Mometers are a band worth getting to know better. Presently, the group has four main members: Scott Williams, Chris Stubbs, Roy Neustaedter, and Brian Wilson. On the CD, Chris and Amy Burns also add instruments and vocals. The album sprang out of yet another collection of songs from Chris Stubbs' and Scott's long-standing collaboration. However, the songs were turning out better than expected, so the two of them decided to enlist the help of the others, and they formed a complete band. The Mometers were born.
Meet the synths
Chris has a jealousy-inducing synth history. He had no interest in synths until someone offered to sell him an ARP Odyssey for $50, which he fixed up with a little work. Next, he obtained an EMS Synthi A:
"Someone called me on the phone looking for tweeters for their studio speakers. He off-handedly mentioned he had a used piece of equipment to sell. He tried to describe this thing with multi-colored knobs in a suitcase that he had no idea what it was, let alone if it even did whatever it was supposed to. I told him to have his assistant bring it down for me to see. I had never seen this sort of thing before, but knew it looked cool and decided it was worth $75 for me to risk. Suffice it to say, I found out real quick what an AMAZING deal I had gotten since these go for $2000 at least nowadays."
Meet the Mometers features these two synths. Since the album was made, Chris has acquired some other synths at less drastic markdowns, including a Micromoog, a FutureRetro 777, and an EML Electro-Comp 101 in a Lucite case. A four-panel Serge system is coming soon.
Meet the music
Meet the Mometers is a very diverse album. The first track, "Don't Try...Do!", is a bouncy, ARP-driven instrumental that gives the CD a whimsical start like the opening credits to Laverne & Shirley. Soulful songs like "The Day" and "Opaque Milkeye" juxtapose indie-rock guitar with burbling synth backgrounds. There's also the comedically somber showstopper "You Are My Destiny", tongue-in-cheek odes like "Rudy Zarniwoop" and "I Gotta Walk", and a bizarre, salivatory noise conversation called "Spit Shine". "In The Caboose" ends the album just as silly as it began, with banjo and a very realistic ARP tuba boom-chucking away as the train leaves the station. The songs are fused together with quirky, skronk segues and trippy meltdown interludes. And in case you thought the twelve listed tracks were a little odd, just wait for the "hidden" track to come up. Altogether, Meet the Mometers has a wonderfully wide assortment of songs.
Although the variety on this CD will allow listeners to take their pick, the greatest moments for me came in "Zimbabwe Woman" and "Minstrel of Dumferling". "Zimbabwe Woman" is a rocking, evil track. Roy's fat drummming propels the song into a 6/4 chorus--complete with huge left-to-right tom fills--and a guitar solo turned up all the way to 11. "Minstrel of Dumferling" is a mock prog-rock anthem, with stilted, over-articulated english accent vocals, baroque flute/clarinet harmonies, and medieval sound effects like galloping hoofs and a clanking drawbridge. The epic piece builds through numerous dramatic tempo shifts and a harmonized, gloriously pompous synth solo. The track ends as the pretentious vocalist persona breaks down into undignified vocal gasping and whimpering. Both lampooning and seriously musical, these two tracks make you play air guitar, as a joke and in earnest.
One thing that unifies this album is the appealingly organic sound of all the tracks. Chris mentioned that the music was recorded on a cassette four track--something you never would have guessed, but a revelation all the same. Also, the unique use of synthesizers on Meet the Mometers is a very important aspect of the album's sound. Appearing on almost every track, the Mometers' synths are usually textural. However, they always sound raw and gritty, and never synthy or pad-like. After all, this is pop music, not synth music. The songs could stand alone with just guitar, bass, and drums, but the synths add that extra sauce that makes all the difference.
Still, something besides the production holds the CD together. To be sure, these guys are not afraid to get a little wild and wacky. But somewhere in the gaps, a certain direct communication comes through, free of irony. Each song, although different from the others, shares a common thread of soulful silliness. The end result: Meet the Mometers is complete album, a work of art on a shiny plastic disc.
Hear the Mometers
To learn more about the Mometers and to listen to mp3's from the new CD, visit their web site at http://www.frequentanimation.com.
The Mometers lug the synths out for live shows, appearing in New York City at Brownies and Acme Underground. Check their News & Gigs page for upcoming dates and other information.
To purchase Meet the Mometers, contact Other Music on the web or by phone at (212) 477-8150, extension 2.
The Mometers are currently shopping their CD to record labels. If you can be of assistance, please contact Chris Stubbs.