The way they tell it, the idea was born somewhere near Munich. Themselves, a free-form hip-hop group thats part of the Anticon collective, was touring in support of The No Music and listening to the Notwists Neon Golden (2002) along the way. A few chance meetings between the two groups, a couple of internationally airmailed demos and a few weeks in a studio outside Munich together, and 13 and God became a reality.
Coming from distinctly different musical backgrounds, the artists — Adam Doseone Drucker, Jeffery Jel Logan, and Dax Pierson from Themselves and Martin Console Gretschmann and twins Markus and Micha Acher from the electronically influenced German indie-rock group the Notwist — merge key elements of hip-hop, glitch-pop and indie-rock on 13 and God. That album, the bands debut, was released to much acclaim in May by Anticon/Alien Transistor, and it has proven to be one of this years most ambitious records.
According to Prefix, the members of 13 & God have created a genuinely rewarding record that is better than the sum of its parts. And others have expressed similar sentiments. But with so many people reviewing records these days, getting the story straight from the source is one way to take the gamble out of music journalism. Prefix asked Doseone to discuss 13 and God from an insiders perspective, and he was kind enough to oblige.
~ Josiah Hughes
13 and God
13 and God
May 3, 2005
Adam Doseone Drucker
And so the record begins…
With a balanced and butchered eight-piece brass arrangement written by Micha Acher. Buried beneath it, a young woman finds herself suddenly and comfortably in touch with all the human beings dropping dead around the world at any given moment. And we find low heaven cradling the poem from which the surname 13 and God sprang — a working title for a common memory gone group name. As puberty begins its set over the young body, there is an uncontrollable urge to settle a score between realized pending death and maybe God in future life — an overwhelming urge to threaten one’s lucky stars to shoot, or to meet God for an autograph and reasonable wish or two. And then the song ends with Dax piano poise and a Valerie Trebeljahr [of Lali Puna] and Markus Acher single-line duet.
“Men of Station” sits a cynical man’s “summer jam,” which even Jel’s mother has confessed to love. Dax’s harmonies coupled with Jel’s MPC’d drums find the six of us doing what only the Notwist does best. Markus and I wrote the lyrics together, from what we both hear/mishear in the space where singing would be. The ride out with Dax’s doctor-sampled autoharp continues to give me chills on a rainy day and a one-hundred-dollar-headphones listen.
“Perfect Speed” began as a demo Jel and I plucked from his shoebox full of high school SP1200 beat discs. It was one of the more difficult songs to finish. It remained unapproachable with respect to our attempts to add instrumentation to it. Asking for few elements and distortion where we usually add multi-tracked embellishments. But somewhere between a frustrating few days and being mixed down, it did indeed find itself done.
“Soft Atlas” seemed to be done even before we all met to record in Welheim in Germany. It was born lucky. Of all the songs, it took the least amount of digging for mix-down clarity and uber-selectivity. Where my poem ended, I decided to steal a Yoni chorus from the first Why? four-track record in our olden and golden college days.
“If” is a sort of pop oddity, comprised of trucking Jel drums and signature Acher brothers air. Dax and Markus harmonies garnished with the gals (Valerie, Steffi Bohm [of Ms. John Soda], and myself) singing of different dooms in rounds. And it beats to a close with a golden-era RZA-sounding drum-and-guitar-stab simplicity, to which I added nervous on the radio radio freestyles, speaking frank and broken from my many obsessive and dark thought loops.
“Superman on Ice” is, I think, closest to the direction of our next record and the breadth of a 13 and God sound over time. Its movie-ending-meets-early-Mr.-Dibbs music, an estranged and massive string arrangement by Micha with Martin “Golden Ear” Gretschmann’s most tasteful electronics atop it. I had a feeling it was the last song on the record the first time I’d heard the demo, and so I saved my brightest rapping rock for last — a several-page ode to all that is both valiant and gone rotten in our mutual blue-collar quest to make music for a living and for life.
In genre-stiff-specific terms, 13 and God marks a serious improvement in the quality of rap-rock over time.
In all honesty, this is no genre-bleaching perfection of the Judgment Night soundtrack. It is an inspired and careful collage of two remotely related and closely connected groups of good people gone musicians. We met as fans of one another’s music, and our first record is built directly on top of our deep connection and affinity for our respective records and selves. And this record marks the ground zero of our progression as friends, bandmates and collaborators. Like proper fans and veteran group members, we sang and played on one anothers songs toward our own and only 13 and God sound.
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