Are there any phrases that will cause music fans to recoil in fear in the same way that “experimental screamo project” will? Probably, yeah; but then you listen to the first demo from Formerly a Genius, and your reaction is likely to be either to embrace this three-song release like the best thing ever made; or to flee in utter horror. Six months on from first hearing it, and I’m still not sure what I think of it; sometimes it’s the greatest demo ever made, other days it sounds like an utter catastrophe. Either way, it’s not the kind of music that invites apathy.
Eschewing any kind of conventional set-up, the demo is built upon electric piano and sampled drums, with the vocals consisting of the kind of pained shrieks that say that, whatever your reaction is, this is music that is heartfelt. The songs may be wrapped in a veneer of sarcasm – I mean, just look at song titles like ‘All-natural GMO-free vegan man boobs’ – but it feels like such humour is being used as a defence mechanism, to laugh it all off as a joke if the desired reactions aren’t achieved. It’s something of a shame, as there’s real genius (no pun intended) in this mix of frantic 8-bit piano, blistering drum patterns, and throat-destroying vocals.
Demo 17 is available via Bandcamp.