Friday, December 18th, 2020

Gupi & Fraxiom – Thos Moser

Spencer Hawk’s middle ground…


Katherine St Asaph: What just happened?

Austin Nguyen: Like getting your skull thrashed with a brick five times, Parasite-rock-style (once for each remaining brain cell) and trying to hold a rave in the motherboard of a post-rage-room computer while getting high off of soldering fumes. Imagine scrolling through the feed of an Instagram account dedicated to compiling every Finsta post that’s ever existed and will exist; this song would be the finale: The Shitpost to Begin and End All Shitposts, a neurotic five-point collision of 1) “no thoughts, head empty,” 2) fire-siren obnoxiousness, 3) pining existentialism/existentialist pining, 4) mid-late aughts nostalgia, and 5) anti-capitalist middle fingers (Elon Musk and McDonald’s are a given, but I know NYU as two things: the school that has no campus and the school that will not think the word “financial aid” in your direction). I really don’t know what’s worse: The fact that I’ve received memes from this person via AirDrop and follow them on Instagram, that my stomach is churning just listening to this while sitting down, or that this is the first PC Music song that I maybe actually wanna laugh and dance to (Caroline Pola, aside)? And no, not the Fortnite default dance.

Al Varela: I struggle to get hyperpop a lot of the time. I don’t even think it’s a case of not being my genre, I think it’s just specific things that bother me that keep me from enjoying its absurdities as much as I want to. What I don’t like about “Thos Moser” is that it indulges in bad impulses as if it was a joke. Whatever ideas it has are poisoned by a layer of irony that makes me wish I was listening to music by people who actually take it seriously. I don’t mind purposefully obnoxious music or absurd experimentation like this, but there is such a thing as doing your job too well.

John Seroff: *he hits play again, he adjusts his headphones, determined to get all the way to the end of “Thos Moser” this time, he grits his teeth, cheeks start twitching, lips pull back, his nostrils flare, holds breath, finally gasps loudly, he hits pause* — “How… how long did I make it?  Was it almost over? Am I there yet?” — *progress bar reads 1:31, song looks at him with pleading bloodshot eyes* — “”wHy D0n^T u 1000000v33 mE3e3E3E3!!?!?!?!??!1111eee33333eeeee”” — *he shuts down the phone and plugs it into a charger, he goes for a long quiet walk*

John Pinto: I already wrote and then cut this whole confused thing about 80’s pop being too dependent on factory presets and hyperpop being in a similar position with regard to the stock sounds on Logic Pro/Ableton/FL Studio/whatever, so let me just say that “Thos Moser” is a romp, it’s a bop, and I like it fine. But with shoutouts to fellow travelers and a description of the scene’s little Washington Square Altamont, it also puts hyperpop at the Self-Referential Point of No Return. I am a grumpy old man who quit Tumblr this year, so nothing strikes fear in my heart like imagining a “post-gecs” wave that refries what’s already been refried.

Oliver Maier: I think what sets Gupi and Fraxiom apart from the many, many hyperpop breakthrough acts this year is the sense that they were born to make this stuff. A handful of their contemporaries take a stilted, overly studied approach, as if reading from a manual on How To Make Provocative Songs About Being Online (Dylan Brady Snares Included!). Gupi and Fraxiom get it instinctively; “Thos Moser” is rich and organic in its total brainlessness. Fraxiom machine-guns the stupidest punchlines imaginable and they all land beautifully (“Check like wet Coca-Cola / Chek like Caroline Pola”). It’s this unfiltered approach — mirrored in Gupi’s constantly morphing house beat, like he’s slapping the top of a busted monitor and watching the shapes change — that sells “Thos Moser”. Enough Gecs imitators are trying to cushion their aggro sound in pleading-face emoji lyrics and pop formalism. Gupi and Fraxiom are trying to sacrifice their brain cells in pursuit of a banger.

Crystal Leww: In the second half of 2020, mainstream media realized that it could no longer ignore the need to cover the year’s buzziest genre, hyperpop. The coverage was fine at best, but woefully “How do you do fellow kids?” about 95% of the time. The challenge is that “hyperpop” has largely become an umbrella term to describe any somewhat internet-based dance music that’s influenced by a range of Y2K pop through early twenty-teens EDM-pop. Unfortunately, media has largely focused on the strain of hyperpop that it understands and has been covering for half a decade — the one centered around Charli XCX’s Vroom Vroom EPwhere Charli was working largely with the PC Music crew. This always feels incomplete because even Charli herself has moved on to a more diverse set of collaborators that only feel loosely connected by herself and the vague ideas of “internet” and “dance music.” The 100gecs strain of hyperpop feels like a more straight line from nightcore, which even half a decade ago felt more chaotic and trollish in how it curated than the PC Music crew, which felt more about creating original works exploring the true essence of pop music sounds. Gupi and Fraxiom’s “Thos Moser” is one of the best examples of the 100gecs strain — it borrows sounds from autotuned pop vocals of the late 00s to EDM-pop thumps but they are combined in ways that are barely cohesive while Fraxiom has no problem threatening to piss on Zedd. “Thos Moser” is also, unfortunately, a perfect example of why it’s so hard for critics to meaningfully cover this strain of hyperpop — which finds its identity in chaos. For a field full of people who take their opinions seriously, it’s tough to be asked to do the same of the song equivalent of someone putting their hands to their face and making loud fart noises. 

Scott Mildenhall: There’s a difference between chaotic and merely messy, and “Thos Moser” falls on the latter side. It seems so in tune with its audience of converts that it’s particularly hard to criticise, though — more than most music, it does what it does for the people who like it. Outside of that group, it’s possible to focus on the bits that bring to mind hits that painted with similar palettes — “Exceeder” or the oeuvre of Fedde Le Grand — songs more clearly defined, with an abundance of angularity nonetheless. But for one reason or another, Gupi & Fraxiom aren’t playing that game.

Thomas Inskeep: I’m sorry, but I’m just too old for this shit.

Ian Mathers: Maybe the kids ARE all right. Certainly more fun and valuable than whatever I was doing at that age.

Frank Falisi: There is something in the way we connect. And there is something in the way. There are more barriers than ever. And if you stare (I stare) straight into despair there is the way this trap feels more permanent than the other ones, graver and hungrier. But if you squint (I am trying to squint) through the pitch and crumbling systems, you can see something like anything possible. If you squint, maybe you see sounds like “Thos Moser”, the goo cackle lobbing itself against the walls with extra aplomb, a panoply of future flange and the oldest question that matters: “can I meet you uptown?” It’s just weird enough to make you want to hang out with people, however possible; just love enough to think that this might be how we get through this year and then the next.

Taylor Alatorre: This score is actually supposed to be a [10], but the 0 got eaten by the Pac-Man computer virus, also known as the cursed emoji Xok. It is presumed unrecoverable.

Reader average: [7.75] (12 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

17 Responses to “Gupi & Fraxiom – Thos Moser”

  1. Dang it, I just figured out how I should’ve blurbed this. This is the most annoying b-side from Pavement’s Wowee Zowee – False Skorpion ( – slammed through pre-Yahoo Tumblr. That’s a 9 for me!

  2. This was my amnesty pick and I couldn’t get a blurb in because I’m grading final exams right now, but I LOVE all these blurbs, including the negative ones (totally understandable too… like… for sure lol). Would’ve given it an [8].

    When I talked with FROMTHEHEART (the now-defunct 80+ member collective who made music in a Discord channel) and Lauren Bousfield (a nearly-40 experimental glitch/pop artist in the Orange Milk mode who is also a part of this scene), it was really evident and cool that so many people from this newer hyperpop scene are so openly and unabashedly queer (you can follow these folks on Twitter and get the same vibes too).

    Anyways, I think Crystal really nails a lot of stuff here, and it’s frankly frustrating how little coverage exists for these artists. I think it’s super notable that they’re pulling a lot from Drain Gang (which allows for a genre blending that incorporates rap, which is still all-too-rare in the West cf. Asian pop), but the bits of Midwest Emo and 100 gecs freneticism are always lovely (as well as the more straightforward pop stuff a la Glaive).

    I think this is considerably different from 100 gecs though in that it’s far less refined, which both Oliver and Scott get at, and is what actually makes Gupi & Fraxiom/Food House really stand out. I think it’s really beautiful that it’s so obviously messy and filled with in-jokes; it feels like music made for friends, with little aspiration to be more than that. I don’t know if any other song this year made me feel that so strongly.

  3. No. 1 controversy, great job everyone (especially liked Frank, Austin and Crystal’s blurbs)

  4. also #10 of all time apparently

  5. I really was NOT joking about following this person on Instagram (and the oddly specific feeling this person was in my English class one time or another and cackling randomly after blurting out “HUHH YEA” while reading Shakespeare); it would’ve been a [10] if they hadn’t forgotten to put in some reference to anime/harems (because that seems to be everyone’s favorite Zoom background nowadays?) or if they really wanted to go for the jugular: hentai. Anyways, I also LOVED Crystal’s blurb as well (“identity in chaos” is a perfect descriptor), and thanks, Katherine (~ validation ~)!

  6. I had no idea this dude is Tony Hawk’s son??? I feel like that explains a lot, but I’m not sure how.

  7. did not get the time to blurb it (instead i wrote like a thousand words about owen pallett lol) but this feels very straightforwardly enjoyable!! it’s fun! it’s got fun noises! it’s got quotable lines! you could probably dance to it!

  8. i love the orange milk stuff and am all about vaporwave; this just felt like it was intended to be annoying and succeeded.

    “I had no idea this dude is Tony Hawk’s son???”
    ^this has me shook

  9. ^^ Same. I also got similar vibes on the “I feel like that explains a lot, but I’m not sure how.”

  10. ‘like he’s slapping the top of a busted monitor and watching the shapes change’ – perfect description. Enjoyed the different responses to this one

  11. Updated to reflect our Controversy champ, a song I probably would have given a [7], thus reducing its controversy, if I had blurbed it. (That and Joshua’s [8] wouldn’t have affected its all-time ranking — solidly #10, above Psy and below Chainsmokers’ “Closer,” which….feels perfect for this song?)

    I am STILL thinking I should make a 2020 Consensish mix because I think it would be a chill way to ring in the new year. Let’s see how much time I have in the next week or so…

  12. Dave, I’d love to see the 2020 Consensish mix!

  13. Updated 2020 Consensish this morning — here’s a Spotify playlist with the top 50:

    Our top 10:

    1. BRELAND & Sam Hunt – My Truck [7.00]
    2. Megan Thee Stallion – B.I.T.C.H. [6.17]
    3. SG Lewis, Robyn, & Channel Tres – Impact [7.33]
    4. Kylie Minogue – Say Something [7.00]
    5. Tricot – Makkuro [8.14]
    6. Empress Of – Give Me Another Chance [7.43]
    7. Christine and the Queens – People I’ve Been Sad [8.25]
    8. AJ Tracey ft. Mostack – Dinner Guest [6.86]
    9. Barbi Recanati – ¿Qué le ves? [8.12]
    =10. Beyonce – BLACK PARADE [7.00]
    =10. Moses Sumney – Cut Me [7.00]

    Consensish is interesting because even though some of the sidebar faves appear, the tracks kind of naturally trend toward [7]. The one exception is the (maybe historically) low-controversy [6.12] for “B.I.T.C.H.” by Megan Thee Stallion (0.28 controversy!), which I would probably give….a [6].

    When I created it in 2016, I gamed the consensish formula to weight for score, meaning a very low controversy [8] is going to do better than a very low controversy [6], but it still mostly reflects numerical consensus of Songs We Don’t Hate. I don’t count anything that has below a 6.00 group score or above a 1.00 controversy rating. (If I do this again I might up the controversy threshold to 1.1 or so, since there are some borderline cases that probably would have placed in the 20’s-40’s on this list if I’d included them.)

    All of the Jukebox controversy and nontroversy playlists are on my Spotify if you follow that link and then, like, wade through about a hundred weird mixes I make for my kids probably. To make it easier I’ll just put the playlists all in the Controversy Tracker in the all-time stats section.

  14. I love that our consensish top pick of the year is an unholy rap country fusion track that i suggested because (a) i love it (b) i thought it would annoy my fellow writers a LOT (but also we blurbed it during the peak low-blurb period of the year where I think a lot of people only blurbed the stuff they liked/found sufficiently interesting)

  15. Fwiw I think it’s a [7] now, too. And 7 contributors is lower than my minimum for weighting controversy (8 is “neutral”) but pretty common. 7 contributors for 7 points. This is the way.

  16. Went back and did 2019, and this so far is the highest-consensus track of all time on the Singles Jukebox (like BRELAND, it has a low number of contributors, so grain of salt — maybe someday I’ll weight for contributors like I do for controversy, but for now I think it’s an interesting thought experiment).

  17. [10] Honestly song of the year. I agree with a lot of Crystal’s and Joshua’s sentiments – in particularly coverage of this “scene” seems to miss the fact that (to me at least) its not “ironic”: its just fun, inclusive, queer, and online. 4 features that seem pretty essential to current moment or whatever.