If you've ever found yourself up in the clouds (for whatever reason), you'd probably run into Portland psychedelic-rock trio Menomena while surfing the heavens. The music marvels have transcended the mere experimental rockers of the band's first album, I Am the Fun Blame Monster (2003), and climbed to the next level of art-pop with Friend & Foe, the group's Barsuk Records debut. The album cover art is a phenomenon in and of itself a clear indicator of the connection between the musician and the universe, displaying an animated alternate realm or dimension with random bits and pieces of lyrics strategically placed in the amoebic collage. With an atmospheric sound soaked heavily in piano and beautifully sliced licks, accompanied by shrill high-hats and rhythmic snares, you're bound to find yourself dancing in the cosmos by the end of the record. Menomena's secret to this out-of-the-box style of composing is guitarist Brent Knopf's computer program, Deeler, which serves as a glorified guitar-loop pedal, arranging loop files into the band's songs and layering them with vocal and instrumental parts. The result is profoundly influential, and the lyrics are free-thinking, marking these mysterious and creative individuals as pure progressive prodigies. "It's hard to take risks if you're a pessimist," vocalist/drummer Danny Seim sings in "Wet and Rusting." While listening, be sure to drown yourself in the heavily distorted bass lines of "Muscle 'n Flo" and groove along with Justin Harris blasting the saxophone. There's never a dull moment here, as Menomena blows our minds with each and every loop and lyric.
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