Portland, Oregon-based experimental rock outfit Menomena originally consisted of multi-instrumentalists Justin Harris, Brent Knopf, and Danny Seim. They assembled much of their debut album, I Am the Fun Blame Monster!, by using a computer program dubbed Deeler, developed by Knopf. The album's unusual packaging was in the form of a flipbook depicting the bandmembers performing. Menomena released it themselves on a very limited basis in 2003, then signed to the Portland independent label FILMguerrero for a national release in October 2004, accompanied by a national tour. Before signing to Barsuk, the band issued Under an Hour, a three-movement instrumental record that had originally accompanied a 2004 modern dance performance in Portland.
Things were a little more straightforward, however, on Friend and Foe (cover art notwithstanding, which was designed by Craig Thompson, author of the graphic novel Blankets), which came out in early 2007. The band continued with this more focused approach, and in 2010 released its fourth album, Mines. Following that release, Knopf announced he would be leaving the band to focus on his solo project, Ramona Falls; Harris and Seim would continue as a duo. The group returned in its streamlined form in 2012 with Moms, Menomena's most personal album to date. Seim went on to release the album Gunnera in 2015 under his equally experimental side project, Pfarmers, a trio with drummer Bryan Devendorf (the National) and horn player Dave Nelson (David Byrne & St. Vincent).
~ William Ruhlmann