Going Strange is the debut solo album by R.J.F. aka Ross John Farrar, a member of Californian punk band Ceremony. Not a bad achievement from someone the press release says “doesn’t really know how to play any instruments well” someone who is “finding a new way to express themselves with minimal tools. Using things laying around his home/borrow from friends like a bass, synth, percussion, his voice and a guitar that peaks through occasionally.

Being unencumbered by technical knowledge is often a good thing as it’s not unusual for naivety in one area to bring out great creativity in another, and not being able to play an instrument well (or at all) doesn’t mean an artist won’t be able to experiment and find ways of turning lead into gold as they can still know how to feel their way to a good tune or great riff.

Each track finds its groove (often on a single-note) and the album has been mixed so that they all flow into one another, but each one gives a different mood such as the subaquatic-vibe of ‘Farrow’s Birthday’ or woozy low-siren on ‘Totem of Love’. There is the harsh drum beat and compelling riff on ‘Cutting’, the Roger-Waters-meets-The-Doors growl of ‘Eternal Present’, the de-tuned double guitar of ‘On the Streets’ or the foggy fever dream of ‘Grapevine’.

This is lo-fi, as wonky as warped vinyl, good-odd, compelling, transfixing and though it will no doubt divide listeners I was totally drawn into R.J.F.’s twilight world of the right kind of wrong.

R.J.F. socials: Instagram

Review by Paul F Cook

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