Angels Of Light & Akron/Family - Angels Of Light & Akron/Family

Deuteronemu 90210 |

Akron/Family are probably Michael Gira's favourite band at present

I don't think it's making too much of an assumption to say that Akron/Family are probably Michael Gira's favourite band at present. Having produced their debut, he then took them on board as his backing band (to all intents and purposes, Akron/Family are the Angels of Light now), and now releases this split album from "both" bands. Insanely eclectic, Akron/Family slip from down-home American Folk to pounding Rock to demented Flaming Lips-style psychedelia without, it would seem, breaking a sweat. Anyone who's caught them live will know just how hard they are to pin down- just as you think you've come up with a context or genre to cram them into, they'll go all slippery fish on your ass and wriggle off into something completely different, gleefully resisting all attempts at categorisation. Switching instruments with gay abandon, they create a sound which is never less than fascinating, and at its best absolutely transcendent. It's not hard to see why Gira fell in love with them- it is bloody hard to describe them, other than in qualitative terms- in which case, what I can tell you is that they're very very good indeed. The seven tracks here are no exception- from the dark campfire/choral (there they go with those weird juxtapositions again) menace of "Awake" to the triumphant release of "Raising The Sparks", Akron/Family take you on a journey through sound which can leave you utterly disoriented, but without ever giving a sense that they've lost the map. Chucked it in the fuckin' creek, Blair Witch Project style, maybe, but lost it? Never. Basically, if you can't find at least something to like in here, you are clearly insane, or maybe should reconsider whether you actually like music at all. The second half (what would, in the old days, I guess, have been quaintly known as "side two") sees Gira taking the mic for five songs. That rich, dark voice that simultaneously is, and is a million miles away from, the one that screamed on "Raping A Slave" all those years ago, is, as ever, on fine form, beginning with a fairly straight take on Dylan's "I Pity The Poor Immigrant", while the Family/Angels/whatever serve up great dollops of twanging Country in the background. "The Provider" wouldn't have been out of place on the first Angels album New Mother- for all Gira's much trumpeted "lightening of tone" there's still a whole world of fear going on in these seven minutes. The real curio here, though, is a radical reworking of Swans' "Mother/Father", in which the shrieks and bludgeoning brutality of the original are replaced with simple drums and a jolly singalong, with harmonies and everything! If the Manson Family had ever made it big as musicians instead of killers, they may not have sounded like this, but you could imagine them playing on the same bill. The only criticism I have, really, could be levelled at any split album - half way through you want more Akron/Family, by the end you want more of Gira. But, you know, you could always just listen to it again. -Deuteronemu 90210- "Being Vaguely Confused Since 1971!"-