Faraquet - Biography
Like many great art-rock bands of the 1990s from the DC-area Faraquet lasted a criminally short amount of time. During the group’s brief lifespan, between 1997 and 2001, it managed to release one stellar full-length and a clutch of great singles. The trio took its cue from the angular post-hardcore sound of bands like Fugazi and Jawbox, but folded in large elements of prog-rock and jazz complexity, getting Faraquet lumped in with the math-rock crowd. Less overtly heavy than its peers, and more likely to use instrumentation outside most “normal” indie rock music (horns, cellos, synthesizers, congas), Faraquet’s deft sense of tempo and dynamics is no less powerful for the group’s relatively lighter touch. The band’s songs are tense, beautiful, and daringly structured.
The trio formed in 1997 as a side project to post-punk band Smart Went Crazy. Two of that band’s members, guitarist and singer Devin Ocampo and bassist Jeff Boswell, joined with drummer Chad Molter. Once Smart Went Crazy split up, Faraquet kicked into high gear and became a full-time group.
Parakeet / Um Die Ecke, the debut single, was released in 1998 on the Mis En Scene label. These two songs, mixed by Jawbox’s J. Robbins, perfectly lay out Faraquet’s emerging aesthetic of tense, clean angularity and controlled chaos. The following year brought two more releases, a split with Milwaukee band Akarso on 404 Records and a second single, The Whole Thing Over / Call It Sane, released on Jawbox’s DeSoto imprint. The four songs Faraquet contributed to the split release expand on its initial aesthetic. Ocampo’s singing becomes more confident here, alternating between an impassioned growl and a taut whisper. Molter’s nervous, polyrhythmic drumming steals the show on several tracks, elevating Faraquet’s sharp-edged riffs with turn-on-a-dime tempo changes.
The group had been performing around the DC area around this time and caught the attention of Fugazi. Faraquet joined Fugazi for a tour through the south in early 2000. On returning home Ocampo, Boswell, and Molter went into Inner Ear studios with J. Robbins to record its debut full-length. The View From This Tower was released on Dischord in November 2000. Many fans consider this album to be the best representation of the “DC sound” for the new decade. It’s easy to understand why. The record is a stunning set of deftly executed architectural art-rock, rolling post-hardcore, jazz, math-rock, and melodic indie pop into a unique, energetic sound. Odd time signatures and swelling dynamics define these songs. But nothing feels arty for art’s sake here, with songs like “Cut Self Not” and the title track boasting infectious melodies. Ocampo’s guitar work is particularly incendiary, matching the virtuosic drumming of Molter. The View From This Tower captures a passionate, focused band at the height of its powers. Unfortunately it would be the group’s sole full-length.
After some touring in late 2000, Faraquet split up the following year. In 2003 Ocampo and Molter formed a new band called Medications. Faraquet’s early singles were collected and released in 2008 on Dischord as Anthology: 1997-98. The group reunited for some shows in support of the compilation around the time of its release.