I owe my enjoyment of God's Money entirely to a friend of mine who convinced me to give it a chance after I'd listened to one track from the release and it didn't sink into my craw. I did as he said, and sat down and listened to the entire album. After the first listen I was mildly intrigued but not wowed, but by the end of the second spin, I'd been won over. A strange group that mixes freak folk, electronic ambience, and tribal passions, these New Yorkers have created a bizarre hybrid album that's worth checking out if you're looking to veer off the path a bit.
One of the main factors in deciding whether or not you enjoy God's Money will be your tolerance of the vocals of lead singer Lizzi Bougatsos. Veering wildly between using her voice as a subtle texture and going full-force with almost Yoko-ish wails, she's one of the primal forces holding the album together. Usually, I don't find myself enjoying such overly theatrical female vocals, but it actually tends to work. After opening with a shorter introduction track, the album launches into "Glory in Itself / Egyptian" and Bougatsos babbles and sings, croons and howls over pounding drums, cascading electronics, and bursting waves of synths.
"Egowar" follows and takes sounds that are usually new age fodder (pan flutes, rain sticks) and twists them into a dancey, world-music laced track that melts into a glorious overload towards the end. "God's Money V" takes on a more aggressive feel again and the dark instrumental mixes juicy synths with polyrhythmic kitchen-sink percussion that melts into "Before My Voice Fails," a track that progresses like a bastardized opera with multiple layers of delayed vocals from Bougatsos, almost proggy instrumentation. The final blowout of rattling percussion, scorching guitars, and soaring vocals is one of the best moments on the entire disc.
Between the longer tracks are shorter instrumental pieces that fit the mood of the album quite well and offer up some nice textural pieces from the group. "God's Money VII" sounds like an ephemeral piece of old 4AD music (think This Mortal Coil) and "Untitled (Piano)" is a shimmering pool of liquid notes that slowly falls apart and completely off the reels. At just under forty minutes, the nine tracks on the album are just about the right length to drop in and pop you in the mouth, then scurry off into some dark corner again. It's probably not for everyone (my wife asked "is this the Muppets doing electronic freak folk?"), but for me it's a great mix of left-of-center music that manages to stay just on the side of "not annoying in their weirdness."