Family of God: one brilliant and elusive band

Louisa’s heading off to her sister’s wedding this week so its about time we published an article by Ryan about a band we ourselves had to put on youtube. Prepare to have an ace put up your sleeve for future music discussions..

First up is the strange and elusive Family of God, an ‘avante-garde’ duo from New York. As far as my limited experience in searching the internet can tell, they have no website, no Myspace, no Wikipedia page, and at the time of writing no tracks on Youtube. The only information I can find on them is what’s written inside the CD sleeve and the short paragraphs that accompany their albums on the Ochre Records website. So, if nothing else, this band can offer a large number of cool points when name dropped.

I bought their eponymous 2-disc debut album on a whim based on the cover and the two pound price tag. Funnily enough it can be bought on their record label for only one pound more. When I first got it home I have to admit I gave it a quick listen and thought I’d made a mistake (after all it was almost the cost of a pint), but given more time this album can do amazing things for you. It is weird, but that’s half the point. This isn’t serious song writing, and it isn’t meant to be taken as such (or at least that’s the impression I get), yet the music that has come out is really very interesting. The New York Times describes their sound as ‘an infectious mix of exotica, psychadelia, lounge and mystic disco’ – I’d say that’s fairly apt.

Family of God have the same sort of setup as Best Fwends, or more famously MGMT, both of which started out as friends making music for no other purpose but their own satisfaction. The sleeve notes offer a good insight into the band’s intentions with this record:

“Family of God… the greatest phonographic record of all time… 21 songs crafted over the summer of 1995… created by Adam Peters and Chris Brick… the music to fill a void first and foremost in our own lives and possibly yours… back to the beginning… February 14 Christopher Street NYC… a conscious decision is made to use everything we have in our living room to make a record… one tubular tube microphone… an sm57 with a particularly sunny disposition… two samplers from our brothers in Tokyo… the weather has changed… mighty mini moog the oscillating king… junior juno just for old times sake… valentine’s roxy red guitar… the friendliest farfisa in town… vibes shimmering cosmic whispers of more… and a parrot.”

There’s actually a striking similarity between this text and the spoken introduction of the following track by Best Fwends:

I’ve chosen to give you some of the more instantly enjoyable tracks, but the full album consists of 22 tracks (the notes say 21 because one is a synth version of nirvana’s smells like teen spirit) which cover a massively eclectic range of styles. The notes offer these insights into the three tracks I’ve selected:

“teenage beach musical… got to have respect for batman
why gogo up there?… the eternal question of space
ark angelika… a soul searching instrumental with side-salad”

Another artist I’d like to mention is Aidan John Moffat who realeased the album I Can Hear Your Heart. He’s better known for his work with Arab Strap and has released other solo material under the name of Lucky Pierre. Moffat’s lyrics often focus upon drugs, alcohol and in particular sex, the band names themselves referring to a cock strap and a position in a threesome respectively (if you want more info google it under the pretence of music research).

I Can Hear You Heart is a semi-autobiographical story that focuses on a time in Moffat’s younger days when sex and drugs were prevalent, a time when moralistic ideals such as monogamy seemed unimportant. The package comes in two parts; a written introduction called POOP and a CD of 24 tracks called LOOP. They are part spoken word and part music, with influences from classical, jazz and film music, amongst his more tried-and-tested indie rock sound. What makes this package so brilliant is the honesty and simple beauty of Moffat’s words, spoken in his rough Scottish accent. One track that I hoped to post, but can’t find online is ‘Cunts’. It seems a little wrong to post any of the words or tracks out of context but this is a music blog so it’s necessary. Just be conscious that this, more so than any other album I’ve encountered, needs to be listened to as a whole work.

Originally spoken in a Scottish accent:

We like to fuck and shag,
We’re not into making love,
But I hope that she’d admit that we’ve done all of the above,
I’ve got a cock or sometimes a willy,
I’m referred to as her bird,
And she’s usually got a fanny,
Really any other word,
Well you might have heard a pie one time or a bum not back but front,
Or even the odd snatch,
But never once a cunt,
She only uses that word when it’s Scottish for amigo,
Or to punctuate a sentence when deflating my wee ego.

[This may not be entirely accurate but conveys the gist of the track]

The album is on spotify if anyone wants to give it a full listen, but I recommend you buy it for the full experience. For now here’s a track from the wonderful album:

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