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CD Feature/ Antifamily: "Antifamily"

img  Tobias

The term „cult label“ is certainly used excessively, but in its original meaning it has a lot to do with mystery and secretiveness – and “difficult fun” is all about mystery and secretiveness: Their homepage offers a lot of drawings and the occasional cover scan, but hardly any background information, while their seminal “Game and Errancy” compilation left listeners with more questions than answers (and a feverishly beating heart). One of the immediate highlights of that vinyl offering was “Law of the Plainsmen” by Antifamily, a heated and frenziedly groovy song which set the tone for the entire record and featured “difficult fun” founder Dave Panos on drums. Taken from the recording sessions to the first full-length, it was a first taste of what to expext and even though this homonymous debut doesn’t merely copy the track’s formula, it definitely delivers on its promise.

Tbe combinatron of structure and surprise is one of the work’s characteristics. The term “cult band” is certainly used excessively, but in its original meaning it has a lot to do with performing a ritual and the Antifamily has everything to do with that. More of a collective with a constantly changing line-up than a traditional band, its members (which, apart from Panos include – oops – cult band “Asja auf Capri” vocalist Anja Kirschner among others) have met in London and Munich over the last two years to celebrate the art of fiery and fulminant improvisations, resulting in a collection of thirteen pieces, including the softly swinging last mambo “Obscene Mist”. Apart from this dreamy two minute outro, the music is psyched and nervous, raw, dark and digital. Situated at the intersection of melodious punk and electronica, it feels happy in a space where rock meets hip-hop – quite a lot of these beats, made up of imperturbably bouncing percussion and contageous honky tonk piano lines,  would be perfect foundations for the next rap battle. Still, it is the album’s various female voices who really stamp “Antifamily”: The sharp-edged, seductively militaristic two-tone melodies of Melanie Gilligan (especially on the futuristic drill instruction “I of the Law”), Agnese Trocchi’s quasi-snotty and always half-bored delivery, Juliette Savin’s raunchy whispers and evocations on the dirty horn-horny Motown fantasy “J’avance” and the unsteadily swaying paroles of Rachel Baker. And then there’s Kirschner, who stars with a powerful performance in the aforementioned “Law of the Plainsmen” and breathes sexy subversive slogans into your ear on the relaxed dub dream “Nation of Bastards”. According to the press sheet, the ensemble was thinking of Brian Eno and Neu!, while working on the album, but it rather the hazy entanglement of the different instruments and the irresistible beats, which justify this comparison, not the pop-mentality of the songs themselves.

The open DIY mentality of both the record company and the band, as well as the flashy synth sounds on this album have led some to claim that this was yet another trashy 80s retro project. Which, in itself, is not a crime, if it is executed this stylefully and with such a contageous enthusiasm. Yet if there is a concept to the Antifamily it is not about a calculated copying of old heroes, but about not thinking too much, allowing the music to choose its own path and of having a whole lot of fun in the process - intuition and improvisation reign supreme over impeccable immaculateness and the intellect. If it doesn’t seem to make sense, don’t worry. It’s a cult thing – mystery and conscious misunderstanding are always part of it.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Difficult Fun

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