Deus as Machina
February 22, 2013 4:46 PM   Subscribe

The God Machine formed in San Diego in 1990, and within a year or so had moved to London. Between then and their untimely demise in 1994, they would record two albums – Scenes From The Second Storey and One Last Laugh In A Place Of Dying – a handful of EPs and a particularly intense Peel Session. They're one of the great unsung bands of the 1990s, and though short-lived, they were a bridge between their predecessors – Black Sabbath, Swans, Janes Addiction – and those they would subsequently influence, such as Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. They were heavy but they were much more than that too.

Unfortunately there's not much on the internet about The God Machine outside of this fansite, erratically maintained by a Swiss superfan.

Formed by guitarist and vocalist Robin Proper-Sheppard, bassist Jimmy Fernandez and drummer Ronald Austin, the band put out one EP on Eve Records in 1991 (all three tracks subsequently being re-recorded for their debut album), before becoming labelmates with The Cure on Fiction Records.

If they're remembered at all, it's for the weight and intensity of songs like Ego and The Desert Song, but many of their best moments were quieter: the haunting lullaby that is The Piano Song, or the stripped down, acoustic Pictures Of A Bleeding Boy. Other songs combined both of these elements, such as the sprawling Seven (which also added clarinets and cellos), from their debut album Scenes From The Second Storey, or The Hunter, from its follow-up, One Last Laugh In A Place Of Dying. Elsewhere, they fucked around with vocal samples, industrial noise, metal, and heavy drones; see various songs below for examples.

Recorded in Prague in 1994, their second album was finished only days before bass player Jimmy Fernandez collapsed and died of a brain tumour. Following this, the band instantly split, though Robin Proper-Sheppard would continue making music under the name Sophia, which is also well worth your time.

The Desert Song (1992):
The Desert Song
Prostitute [live only, poor quality]
Commitment [see Peel Session]
Pictures Of A Bleeding Boy

Ego (1992):
Ego, live on German TV, with brief interview beforehand
Temptation [ep version unavailable]
The Piano Song [ep version unavailable]

Peel Session (1992):
Commitment/Desert Song/Double Dare/Pictures Of A Bleeding Boy

Live At the Reading Festival (1992):
Audio only
She Said
Purity: part one; part two

Home (1993):
Home (music video)
What Time Is Love? (KLF cover)
Double Dare [see Peel Session]
All My Colours (Echo & The Bunnymen cover)
Fever (Little Willie John Cover)

Scenes From The Second Storey (1993)
Dream Machine (on a bus for Dutch TV)
She Said
The Blind Man
I've Seen The Man
The Desert Song
Home (followed by MTV 120 minutes interview)
It's All Over
Temptation [cut short]
The Piano Song

One Last Laugh In A Place Of Dying (1994)
The Tremolo Song
In Bad Dreams
The Love Song
The Life Song
The Devil Song
The Hunter
The Flower Song
Boy By The Roadside
The Sunday Song

This post inspired by The God Machine going unmentioned in the thread about post-Nirvana major label oddities and failures, and by the fact that I've been meaning to make a God Machine post for about nine years.
posted by Len (8 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
The bands named above as influencers and influencees has certainly piqued my interest, But I've never heard of them.

Definitely checking them out this weekend. Cheers
posted by deadwax at 5:51 PM on February 22, 2013

The history alone makes me think of Floater in Portland/Eugene. I think they're still playing, though.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:26 PM on February 22, 2013

oOOooh, thanks. This looks tasty.
posted by humboldt32 at 6:31 PM on February 22, 2013

I so miss the God Machine and wish they had a longer time to work their magic. Thanks for posting, I too looked at that listing and wondered why they were omitted. Bravo!
posted by arcticseal at 8:53 PM on February 22, 2013

For some reason, my first thought went to

Machine - There But For the Grace of God
posted by LMGM at 2:09 AM on February 23, 2013

They were amazing. One of those bands, you play the CD and everyone goes 'can you make me a copy'? So many people have gotten into them, really high hit rate... and such a tragic story. I really didn't know they came from america, they had to restart from scratch twice over... such intense music.
posted by maiamaia at 1:58 PM on February 23, 2013

NB they never made it big because they'd just broken through when/just after they ended.
posted by maiamaia at 1:59 PM on February 23, 2013

Thank you for posting this. Their two albums are two of my favorite albums.

20+ years ago when I was in high school, I would go to the same record store to buy all of my music. The eccentric guy behind the counter one day said, "I see all of the records you're buying, you should get this," and it was Scenes From The Second Storey.

The same experience as maiamaia, whenever I play them around someone new they always ask who they are and where they can get a copy.
posted by lowrentkicker at 9:23 AM on February 25, 2013

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