The word “interesting,” ironically, may be the least interesting adjective in the English language. It pretends to make an opinion without really saying anything about the subject. To say something is interesting is to say that it captured your attention and held it for a certain period of time, long enough for you to think with at least a sliver of consideration and, hopefully, to form an opinion, but apparently not a very strong one. Interesting is lukewarm and does not communicate anything terribly precise.
In some cases, however, it can be the best way to describe something, especially if you are unable to gauge the reaction of others to that thing. It was the first word that came to mind upon a first listen of Fergus & Geronimo’s sophomore effort Funky Was the State of Affairs. From start to finish, the record truly is an interesting experience. Equal parts the Hives, Joy Division, Blur and Parliament/Funkadelic, Fergus & Geronimo delivers an insane tour de force of weirdness that seems to have covered enough bases to be enjoyable at times for anybody. The Texas-based duo manages to combine elements of psych-pop, proto-punk and funk, among many other styles and genres, to create an extraordinarily unique LP.
Spliced with spoken word tracks such as the opener “Planet Earth is Pregnant for the 5th Time” and “The Strange One Speaketh,” the ceaseless beats and grinding guitar riffs weave a musical journey which calls to mind DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing….. and the fuzzed-out euphoria of Animal Collective. “Earthling Men” takes cues from the controlled, delayed feedback of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, while both parts of “Wiretapping Muzak” owe a tremendous debt to ? and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears.” The driving bass and melodrama of “Drones” hark back to the post-punk Great Britain of Peter Hook in the 1980s, and the closing title track is every bit as fun as many Sly & the Family Stone cuts. The list of bands and artists that this record reminds me of, really, could go on for at least another three hundred words.
All told, Funky Was the State of Affairs is a superbly original release in a world where such an accomplishment is not as easy as it once was. Andrew Savage and Jason Kelly, the duo masterminds of the band, should be proud of this work, even if the spoken word tracks can get weirder than the music. An album like this comes along none too often anymore, yet releases like this, perhaps unfairly, are often overlooked. On Funky Was the State of Affairs, Fergus & Geronimo reflects its influences while creating something entirely new, the failed responsibility of many contemporary musicians. If nothing else, the album is worth a listen. If you’re interested.