Hold on to your butts, because shit’s about to get weird! The obscenely talented, musically omnivorous duo Fergus & Geronimo (known to their mothers as Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly) are back with a new sixteen-track weirdo-opus about aliens, mind-control, conspiracy theories, and intergalactic courtship. Also: numbers, symbols, parties, and LSD. Funky Was the State of Affairs follows 2011′s impressive Unlearn, and is due out on vinyl, digital, and CD formats (in colorful, lovingly designed packaging) on August 7th. Have a listen to first single “Roman Tick” at the link above.
About the record:
Fergus and Geronimo’s leap between their early R&B-influenced singles and their first wildly diverse record was so daring, many music writers and fans were forced to reconsider the pigeonhole to which they had already damned them. Happily damned them, since, after all, those early tracks went over exceptionally well.
But observers and admirers were also left doing something not many get to experience in this dime-a-dozen singles renaissance: scratching their heads concerning what this group would do next. After a first record that was such a departure, not only did they wonder, they actually cared.
Like some of history’s most well-regarded and oft-reissued acts, the group is doing exactly what they are compelled to do for their anticipated sophomore LP Funky Was the State of Affairs: making an album that actually plays like a cohesively complete statement.
And yet the record is entirely unpredictable, even as it tackles reoccurring themes, which Savage says include, “aliens, technology, intergalactic dating/hooking up, the Roman Empire, and the earthling resistance movement.”
Though at times it sounds like fairly serious subject matter, the group employs a sharp-tongued attack with the same sort of gallows humor cracked wise by the likes of their equally Doubting Thomas inspirational figures, everyone from the Mothers of Invention to Devo.
Within the first few minutes, the tone is set; the bright, spiky, opening track over a Krautrock rhythm, “No Parties,” contains a line summarizing the restlessness caused by the alienation of modern habits, sung in a mock-English accent: ”Collecting devices, you’re paying the prices/Of overconsumption, with mental destruction.”
“Basically, its a dystopian sound-scape of our civilization’s collapse,” says Savage. Indeed, those feelings of dread are sometimes instrumentally emphasized by passages of synthesizer static and noise, which Savage attributes to being influenced by groups like Chrome. New members Bob Jones (guitar, bass, analog synth) and Jef Brown (Tenor Sax) also add to the playful chaos. Savage says the original duo added members in order to achieve “the tightness that can only come from recording with a live core,” as “musicianship is extremely important to Jason and I…”
Since Brown and Jones both played in the self-explanatory Evolutionary Jass Band—which evolved out of the equally experimental Jackie-O Motherfucker—there is an expansion in the group’s improvisational capabilities that wasn’t as obvious on past recordings. Yet nothing sounds forced, each interlude is enjoyable, each hip-hop-inspired skit serves a narrative-pushing purpose. The record bounces from Booker T-styled soul (“Wiretapping Muzak I and II”) to early 80s New York dance rock (“Marky Move”) with an immodest ease.