Foma – Inverness

Foma - Inverness

Foma - Inverness

For some reason the word Foma instantly reminded me of Soma, the tranquilizing drug in Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World. But, it is really a fictitious religious term from Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle that means living by the untruths that make one happy. It’s also is the name adopted by this garage-pop indie band from San Francisco, CA.

As much as the name seems to be a proper fit to the band, the band seems to be a proper fit to the name too as melancholic strings and twinkling guitar passages are interwoven with a mildly spooky indie-folk foundation to form a mysteriously pleasant brand of post-rock that has both tranquilizing and tantalizing moments while consistently tempting the listener with subtle nuances and cool mood swings.

Like Brooklyn, NY trio Limbs, the odd, fractured rhythms and intricately layered guitars are coated with a hazy ambience. But instead of dissonant chord progressions, Foma tempers its moody melodies with swells of strings (cello, viola and ukulele), indie-rock beats and even some prog-like arrangements. The songs on Inverness are kept short, however, as the band prod and explore different dynamics, often finding a neat little nook of a hook or a fluid instrumental break before the track comes to a quick end. The alluring hook may be at the beginning, middle or end of the song leading to a slightly uneven feel over the disc’s eight tracks, and while the music is never boring and the songs are efficiently structured, they never completely satisfy.

In addition to principal songwriter Edward M. Burch lending his vocal talents to the proceedings, bassist Chani Hawthorne also pipes in with lead vocals, although usually not on the same track. Both are fine singers, in fact Hawthorne’s layered vocal textures are often delicate, chilly and hypnotic and sound a lot like Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, but since the vocals account for much of the songs’ atmosphere the male/female duality adds to the slight imbalance of the album.

Overall Inverness has enough interestingly good music with intervals of enticing, dreamlike passages and atmospheric strings amid turbid post-rock and mystical indie-rock for a sound that is both curious and unique, if not somewhat disjointed, but deserves a close listen and should please fans of the RIYLs.

Recommended Tracks: “J.M. Sebastian”, “Hannah, It’s Finished”, and “Interlude”

Recommended If You Like (RIYL): Limbs, AM Syndicate, Wye Oak and The Broken West

Foma on the Web: http://www.itsallfoma.com or www.myspace.com/foma