Here is what some people say about us:
“Sacramento, Ca trio Gentleman Surfer are, for lack of a better term, absolutely nuts. This is meant as a high compliment. The band is made up of Jon Bafus, Drew Walker, and Barry McDaniel, and their album Blalks recalls everything from the math-punk of Cap N’Jazz to the free-jazz strangeness of Mr. Bungle. From song to song, multiple styles of music ( prog, indie, math-rock) are cleverly employed in dizzying fashion, while the vocals (courtesy of Bafus, McDaniel, and Walker) is appropriately heightened, with wacky sing-along choruses. Blalks is a truly special record made by some seriously nutty, and seriously talented people.” -Symbioticreviews
“This Sacramento band is a perfect example of something coming out of the blue to blow you away. I don't even remember how I came across their page on Bandcamp, but I am so glad I did. Drummer/keyboardist Jon Bafus is the main force in the band, which started as his solo project. He's joined on this set by Drew Walker on bass and Barry McDaniel on guitar; all three sing, though much of the music is instrumental. The music is energetic and complex, but very catchy in the melodies. Instrumental parts range from aggressive punkish guitar to circular repeating patterns on keyboards. It's not quite as schizophrenic as Cheer-Accident, but is definitely along the same lines. Occasional thoughts of Battles also crop up, but there's more variety in sound here. For contrast, there are sections where the tempo drops off and crazy feedback bounces around. And there's a certain jazzy feel to the drums sometimes, which works surprisingly well with the stop-start riffs and nutty rhythmic shifts. I have no idea what BLALKS means, but it's a hell of a lot of fun to listen to, and a great example of the positive side of online music. If we were still relying on LPs being sent around through the mail, I'd never have found them, and I'm glad I did.”
-Jon Davis expose.org
“The trio’s evolved into something that sounds like a cross between Deerhoof, Mr. Bungle and John Zorn....despite how weird Blalks can get, the music here is oddly catchy and accessible.”
-Sacramento News and review
“From their perfect cutoffs, to their various tempos, and their ability of impeccable unison, the entire venue was flustered with questions during their Treefort Fest set. They’ve got talent. It takes a plethora of skill to be a good musician, let alone master the confluence of semi-scream and movement (both physical and musical). It is something that a rare few can master...It seems ironic to say that they were a breath of fresh air, but it’s true.”
“Gentleman Surfer's second album takes a bold step out of the shadow of its comfortingly clairvoyant predecessor. Whereas Bountiful Ore tended to shine through the prism of its introversions; kempt, contemplative statements from Bafus alone, BLALKS is more an introduction to the terrestrial personalities of a complete band that found its footing in short order. The result is an album sturdy and alive, critical and composed, demonstrating a keen willingness to experiment within artistically communicative, linear slabs. One of their strongest suits is the ability to avoid the canned stoicism that can come from navigating a collective avant-rock appreciation. A command over the percussion (straightforward, propulsive rhythms blended with an abundance of ornamental flair) helps a lot toward that end.
Slowing it down, one standout track "Cry Catastrophe" earns its spazz stripes by effectively allowing the sonic floor to drop during an imposing, bass-heavy feedback freak out, then reclaims its gravity, proceeding along its bumpy track without missing a beat. Less violent pieces like "Isle of Cats" are exercises in patient expansion, decorated with the bells and whistles of Bountiful Ore's humble repose.
"Baenu" begins bubbly, then hits its best stride not as a particular riff or sequence, but a bombardment of jarring frequencies (not unlike some of Hella's finest moments.) "Won Too" is a balanced petri dish with a real muted groove to it. The floral bloom reemerges dutifully each time it's erased by a monster classic rock riff.
Ambitious and thoroughly satisfying, "Keepe" is a conveyor belt delivering objects of unpredictable textures and temperaments. Featuring bristly guitar licks and detached crooning, it functions on the level of Zappa's most aberrated conceptual headscratchers ("The Dangerous Kitchen", "The Blue Light", "Punky's Whips"…). On the best-played-loud sendoff "Pain Staker", Bafus's drums carve, slice, and delegate gears into an ambiguous vortex of sputtering, arpeggiated digital tones, making a pulsating mechanical effigy that no doubt took the organizational pains its title would imply.
Scattered about BLALKS are hints that Gentleman Surfer could easily be "math rock", yet refreshingly they are not. Not afraid to lean on blunt, rigid passages, theirs is a partitioned stew that boils in splashings of slipshod jazz frenzy. A commotion of nutty hooks served without the wide-eyed, overly-exertive guilty pleasures that have overpowered similar contemporaries. It's a successful pursuit providing more than enough material to simmer on, and doesn't let us ignore the potential of an unflappable band capable and poised to act on some very strange whims.”