The God Machine: more WATN?

So I finally get round to adding to the ‘where are they now?’ pile.

The God Machine were a band that I just sort of happened upon back in the early nineties and deeply fell in love with. Listening to them now, with the hindsight of clarity and cynicism, their sound was certainly edging on the grunge scene of the times, but with far more going on. Yes there was huge riffage and thunderous drums, but they also managed to pull off some serious introspective brooding and tenderness (in similar way to how Jane’s Addiction managed both). In fact, I’d go as far as saying they were post-rock before the term gained currency: they were successful in doing the ‘quiet/loud’ thing that seems to be the somewhat tired and predictable formula of most post-rock today. They also had that progressiveness about them – something that was deeply and definitely unfashionable at the time – and were often labelled industrial, but as I thought then and still do now, this was way off the mark.

As a Californian three-piece, consisting of Robin Proper-Sheppard (guitar/vocals), Jimmy Fernandez (bass) and Ronald Austin (drums), they settled and made their name in this country. A few EPs and two albums later, they came to a very unfortunate ending when Jimmy Fernandez died from a cancerous brain tumour on May 23th 1994. The rest of the band felt they couldn’t carry on and split.

Robin Proper-Sheppard is now a producer and runs a record label (‘Flowershop’). He formed a band called Sophia, whom I don’t know that much about but there are some tracks to listen to here – sounds a lot quieter than God Machine. He’s also co-produced the debut album by Dark Captain Light Captain which, strangely enough considering he’s been off my radar for a good decade, is out this week. Ron Austin is involved in films.

So I guess I’ve answered the ‘where are they now’ question. Perhaps this is more a contribution to the ‘where they are now’ pile.

Anyway, The God Machine still sound great to my ears (although me colleague might shudder a bit). I saw them in London ‘back in the day’ and I know that Hair and Skin Trading Company were on the bill. Now, according to the gig list here Afghan Whigs and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion were on the bill as well, which is quite a line up. However, I can’t remember the latter two, although I have some vague recollection of seeing Jon Spencer at some point in time. I was probably in the bar, but I do remember God Machine being simply enormous and world-shaking.

So, some stuff from across their brief career (most of which is digitised from vinyl, so apologies for the crackles). They recorded a number of covers including KLF’s ‘What time is love?’ and Bauhaus’ ‘Double Dare’ which unfortunately I don’t have. Here they are with an Echo & The Bunnymen cover:

All My Colours – from the ‘Home’ 12″.

Pictures of a Bleeding Boy – from the ‘Desert Song’ EP.

The Blind Man – from debut album Scenes from the Second Story.

Mama – from second album One Last Laugh in a Place of Dying.

There’s two really good fan sites here and here. Much of their discography is very hard to get hold of and seems to command a price. So, ummm, best of luck!



About angrybonbon

Both Bars On's Manchester correspondent

Posted on October 27, 2008, in where are they now pile and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

    Oh, and there’s quite a bit of ‘loud’ songs on the last few Sophia records!
    Check out ‘The River Song’ or ‘If a change is gonna come’ or ‘P1/P2’.

  2. Cheers, I certainly will.

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