The self-titled debut album by Berlin-based GODMOTHER arrives via New Pangea on September 21, 2018 – officially the last day of summer. Coming to terms with one's own mortality is a frequent theme in art. Godmother starts with this trope and takes it a step further, offering a tragicomic meditation on the annihilation of Homo Sapiens – and embracing its evolutionary successor. We're living in dark times, and Godmother reflects that – but the album offers a notable counterbalance with catchy melodies and a sense of humor. Its nine songs were written by Joey Hansom, deemed “the Gilbert & Sullivan of LGBTQ-with-a-capital-Q lyrics” by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle), upon having seen the clip for “MTFTM” from the act's previous Transgenre EP.
Godmother as a whole is about ridding ourselves of fear and having a laugh in the face of death. We as a species are on our collective deathbed, so why not have an orgy? But before any climax of apocalyptic scenarios, the album starts with “Death Drive” – at its core, a drinking song: “I got a friend who goes to AA / and she says I oughta join her someday / but it's kinda far and I don't got a car / and the nearest bar is just twelve steps away.” It's a tune accepting the fact that the pleasures that make life worth living are often what kill us.
Then comes “Born in MCMLXXXIV”, dystopian disco with a queer sense of space and time: “Big Brother's got an older step sister / She's gonna stamp all over his face / Till his story ceases to exists / Till his future gets erased.” The seductive pulse carries into “H2O”, temping you to take the plunge, somewhere between encouraging and cajoling: “You wanna test the water / But it's always H2O.” It flows into “No Kidding”, which could easily serve as the anthem for the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement: “Beleaves are falling from the tree of knowledge / Autumn is calling and progress is abolished.”
Introducing the record's second half is“Earthquaker”, pushing destruction as a creative force: “You're a molecule with free will / Exploding in slo-mo / And your mindshare is expanding / So come on and cause a commotion.” It segues into “Reflecting”, a contemplative ballad: “You can't win a staring contest with the sun / Gazing at the stars in a magazine / You can't see the forest from the woods / Living in the shade of a daydream.” This in turn blends into the fanfare of “OMG”, anticipating the birth of the Singularity: “She isn't dead but she slays the role / Even the skeptics say it's unbelievable / She was unborn to play the part / To make a virgin birth conceivable” – ending in an orgasmic big bang.
“Drowning in Data” calls us to stay afloat amidst an overdose of information that distracts us from the consolidation of power: “The mixed media are sending messages / The news is broken, the noise is scripted / Deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive / The fairy tales must be decrypted.” Produced purely with synthetic sounds and grounded on Planet Earth in 2018, it switches seamlessly into the final track, which is transmitted from another plane of existence entirely and is also the album's sole cut performed 100% by live musicians. “Another Armageddon” zooms out from the doom, offering a transhumanist, non-linear perspective: “Life on Mars goes on, and there are other stars besides the Sun.”
Intertwining with the record's electronic elements is sax by GODMOTHER fixture T-Word, cello by Stellan Veloce (of Y-E-S collective), keys by Jörg Hochapfel (of Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra), backing vocals by Kaia Bremnes (of Jackie Charles) as well as bass by Robbie Moore and drums by Micha Fromme (both of L.A. Salami and Robot). Ziúr and Ben Jackson provided sound design and drum programming on certain tracks, and Léonard de Léonard provided the album's mix.
The cover artwork – a minimalist yet psychedelic tapestry of typography – was created by Stefan Fähler, following his work for the likes of Marc Almond, Ariel Pink and Xiu Xiu. It was designed digitally, then embroidered, and finally photographed. The result represents GODMOTHER as a conjuror of cosmic images, where familiar glyphs can evoke a sense of wonder.
GODMOTHER has played in New York, London, Paris and of course Berlin, from performing arts festivals to basement sex clubs. Their music video for “MTFTM” was an official selection at the 2016 Porn Film Festival Berlin. Apart from GODMOTHER, singer-songwriter Joey Hansom (preferred gender pronoun: they/them) has contributed music to films such as Fluidø, which premiered at the 2017 Berlinale, and the surrealist sitcom Charisma, which Volksbühne Berlin presented on their website in 2017-18. As a DJ, Joey is co-founder and resident of BOO HOO (named one of “Berlin’s Best Underground Club Nights” by i-D) and has provided support for Perfume Genius and SSION, in addition to co-hosting the Berlin spinoff of the Mattachine Dance Party with John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch).