Music Reviews

Artist: Fermion
Title: We Are Nowhere
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Fermion is a new alias for a duo consisting of Eric Shans of Phenotract, and Augustine Backer. After sketching some tracks out at a New York City producers meet-up a few years previously, in 2019 they have finally finished up, polished off and released a six-track EP that grew from there. Whether this is a one off collaboration or the beginning of something new remains to be seen, but on the evidence of this, I hope there’s more.

This EP comes from the dark side of synthpop, with six fairly lengthy and evolving synth-electronica instrumentals that feel like they are channeling OMD’s broodier moments, particularly their earlier and more prototype-like works, and bleepy grooves that are Vince Clarke-like at times, coupled with early-New-Order-ish fragile chords. The vocal also evokes comparisons with OMD as well- and crucially, there’s a decent helping of Andy McCluskey’s songwriting ability to back it up, with some strong chorus hooks on tracks like “Ever Know” and “Echoes Reverse”.

After wistful and atmospheric opener “Nowhere” (an unusually long intro track for a 27-minute EP), the songwriting- and the kick drums and arpeggiators- start properly on “Abstract Shadows”. “Ever Know” is the ballad, of sorts, while the gritty gutpuncher sounds and heavily effected samples that fuel mostly-instrumental-odd-power-ballad “Bubble Chamber” are thoroughly modern and make it clear this is a 2019 release not solely a work of audio retro.

The driving synthbass of “Echoes Reverse” is so ubiquitous that it almost qualifies as traditional music now, but it still feels great when done well, and it works here, while the lullaby-like music box sounds of final track “Light Voyagers” firmly point towards a more ambitious and cinematic sound that leaves you wanting more.

If there’s a weak point on this EP, unfortunately it’s that the vocal could do with a tiny bit of work. There are a couple of suspicious notes in there, but the problem seems more production based- perhaps through lack of vocal confidence, there’s excess reverb and EQ that serve to make the vocal sound weaker rather than helping it. A bit more work or vocal overdubs might’ve helped I think.

Fans of serious synthpop will absolutely appreciate this. Eschewing the stereotypical American full-on-noise approach to EDM and offering up a more introspective and delicate set of tunes, this is clearly a good match-up between the two producers and hopefully it will lead to more.

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