US - New York - Full Moon 204 - 04/25/13
I've really been looking forward to Sub Verses, the new album by the wild and wonderful, spiced and colourful Akron/Family. It's been a bit over two years since
their last album, the sparkling and indeed tasty Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. A few months back they
put out the live recordings ATL2ELP, serving as a crowd-funding project for their up-coming record. Write a check to cash for Akron/Family (Ak/Fam) anytime, anywhere.
They're for sure trustworthy, and they're one of the better investments around as well. This is no hoax, no fake, no fraud. There's no possibility of danger or risk involved
but shivers and shakes by tremors caused by cool music.
Sub Verses is Ak/Fam's 6th album proper, not counting the split album between Ak/Fam and Michael Gira's experimental post-Swans band Angels of Light. Gira is
sort of a mentor for the band, as he signed them to his Young God Records label in 2004 (after receiving demos from the band). Ak/Fam has also served as Gira's backing
band, as Angels of Light mainly are 'Michael Gira with guests/friends'. Anyway, vocalist/multi-instrumentalist (mainly guitar live) Seth Olinsky (who's got a side project
as Cy Dune as well), drummer/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dana Janssen (who released a solo album Summer Bodies -- on Lefse
Records!! Lefse is Norwegian, and it's sort of a burrito with butter and sugar! -- last year, as Dana Buoy), and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist (mainly bass live) Miles
Seaton are Ak/Fam, and together they create exciting and different songs/compositions. Well, a fact for sure is that they're a trio of multi-instrumentalists and singers.
Their former lead vocalist (and, of course, another multi-instrumentalist Ryan Vanderhoof, left after their third album, Love Is Simple (2007).
Sub Verses starts with "No Room", which holds a twisted rhythm track and Olinsky's 1970s space-rock styled guitar. The song follows this suggestive rhythm all
the way through, and its style reminds me a bit of Spiritualized. "Way Up" is more related to Animal Collective's music, but clearly with Akron/Family's signature. "Until
The Morning" is a majestic and elegant song, and an instant favourite. A highly laidback and melodic track, with Seaton's lead voice as a centre piece, sort of, backed with
a calm and steady, minimal drum beat (hi-hat/egg shaker and bass drum), discreet keyboards, and careful and hushed guitar picking. Brill-i-ant! Several tracks are trademark
Akron/Family, of the slightly psychedelic freak-folk rock genre, with a lust for experimentation and to cross all borders musically. Just check "Sand Talk" and "Holy
Boredom". "Sand Time" and "Whole World Is Watching" are more in the direction of 70s rock pieces (proggy or not) of the poppier kind. All of a sudden comes the eerie ballad
(like some last dance taken from the Twin Peaks series) "When I Was Young". The album's closing track is the slowly swaggering, swaying "Samurai"; a croon-style
rock-ballad song. Quite delicate and appealing, and a indeed fitting closer to an album with 10 songs clocking in around 50 minutes.
Sub Verses is another very fine album from Ak/Fam, but maybe more exciting and fascinating than a smashing album. It's quite good, but not excellent, and I still
rank ...The Cosmic Birth... on top, along with Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free, and even further back. Akron/Family may sound like a mish-mash of a lot of influences
(dropped by critics) like: The Beatles, Wilson/Beach Boys, The Band, Capt. Beefheart, Led Zeppelin, some 70s prog acts, and bands up to our time (I've mentioned Animal
Collective and Spiritualized). I guess that Swans/Michael Gira, Sun City Girls (hailing from Phoenix, Arizona), and several other experimental acts, maybe Deerhoof as well,
should've been added to this list. Ak/Fam is mainly about improv noise and sweet harmonies. I get this idea/image of them being the more melodic offspring of Pink Floyd's
organic, avant gardish space-trip "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict" (off Ummagumma).
Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen