Usually, the process of an artist winding up as a live guest on My Castle of Quiet involves months of correspondence, my personal attendance at live shows, and/or my poring over that artist's available releases and recordings. Not so in the case of FUN. I had been connected to the fine folks at Breathmint records via our mutual friend Bob Bellerue, and had heard two FUN CDrs, one of which I loved (the untitled, or "gas mask" CDr) and had aired on several occasions. There was a scrappiness to their sound, not unlike my favorite New Blockaders recordings, where one can actually hear "the room," and it becomes very evident that these seemingly chaotic sounds are being rendered by humans in action.
FUN also came highly recommended by former guest and sometime MCoQ co-host C. Lavender, and after a perusal of the Breathmint Web site, specifically their FUN page, with embedded videos, I got the distinct notion that these guys were up to something, something more than the often haphazard and off-the-cuff appearance that they projected—and I wanted to be a part of it—so we set about scheduling a date.
FUN are heavy on concept, without being at all collegiate or pretentious about it. They have these ideas, good ones, that in the sonic execution thereof, amount to some great performances. Their mic'd up, full-head rubber masks provide a constant human element, via their breathing, grunts and other assorted mouth noises. Whatever else might be going on varies widely from piece to piece.
For set one on My Castle of Quiet, they used WFMU's vintage Farfisa organ, our "usually in tune" upright piano, as well as accompaniment by their friend Kevin on concertina. What results is a floating dance of improvised communication, a spacious piece of great subtlety, one that will sneak up on you.
Set two is a very different animal, performed by Mat and Jonny, the core duo of FUN, each one armed with two transistor radios run through a mixer. I can't thank these guys enough, for doing what I always hope guests on the show will do, treating their appearance like a unique opportunity, not quite a "gig" and not quite a recording session—and also considering the medium of radio, and making that context somehow key to the proceedings.
Tremendous thanks to Glenn Luttman for engineering the session with his customary professionalism, and to Tracy Widdess, for sprinkling magic dust onto my photo of the band, captured during set 1.
Keep an eye on this space for artist-rendered remixes of the session, coming soon.