Akron/Family and Angels of Light | Reviewa sympathetic and faithful reading of Bob Dylan's "I Pity The Poor Immigrant" December 05
Akron/Family's moonlighting as Michael Gira's Angels of Light took them on a 40-plus date tour playing a set under their own name and another behind Gira every night. Keen to capitalize on ecstatic crowd responses on the road and the energy manifested in the performances, Gira immediately took the whole collaborative operation into the studio a week after the tour landed in Brooklyn. This album was recorded in 9 hardworking and transparently productive days. Five of the songs are Gira's compositions and the rest Akron/Family's own work, hence the split crediting of the album.
Gira proclaims that Akron/Family are his favorite "Rock Band". One understands and shares his need to use quotation marks. Whether working as Akron/Family or Angels of Light, they have a sound that recalls acts that have thrived on the collective consciousness of the group as creative bubble and gang mentality. "Awake" has a fingered electric guitar part straight from The Beatles' White Album and multi-part harmonies from Abbey Road. "Future Myth" has the mini-operatic quality of Good Vibrations with a lovely lush and pulsing coda that resolves with a bizzare moment of casio synth nonsense. The solo voice of "Dylan Part 2" repeats "You've found what you're looking for" with the timeless anguish and emotion The Band perfected. Gira takes lead vocals for a sympathetic and faithful reading of Bob Dylan's "I Pity The Poor Immigrant" that is infused with the autumn colors of upstate New York. A galumpfing anthemic riot like "Moment", or the reflective and wheezing instrumental that segues into a strum-along lament in "We All Will", even recalls the the ramshackle homilies and good times of The Faces.
Yet despite these iconic influences, there is heart and integrity enough here to make them take the scare out of the scare quotes by sidestepping pastiche and parody. It would take a cold heart not to be moved by the psychedelia tinged rock 'n' roll pleasures of these performances.