Akron/Family & Angels of Light | Review | Nick

there’s a delicate balance of contrast and cohesiveness

Nov 28/05 Akron / Family & Angels of Light Rating: 9.1 This recent offering from Young God Records brings together one of the standout bands to step into the extremely crowded folk spotlight of recent times, Akron/Family, and Young God founder, Michael Gira, in the form of his writing (and vocal) project, Angels of Light, with Akron/Family playing the part of the “angels” this time. Akron/Family section opener, Awake, strolls in with warm, pastoral folk tradition present on much of their self-titled debut earlier this year, only with a more refined sound in place of the lo-fi primitive value. Immediately following, however, is the uproarious, chaotic feedback, thrashing drums, and screaming guitar intro to the raucous anthem, Moment. Confirming suspicions (that were planted on their debut) that these guys were here to rock the folk scene unlike anyone else out there. The album highlight comes along in the form of eight minute mid-point of the A/F section, Future Myth, rambling confidently through a couple of minutes of rolling percussion, floating chords and fluttering synths before the first word is muttered. The following six minutes are a combination of Modest Mouse-esque multi-layered vocals, non-stop addition and subtraction of layers of sounds, riffs, drums, synths, horns and even a random 80s hip-hop beat (*shrug*) at the end. The stripped-down, Oceanside, provides a soothing, but brief, voyage into the more traditional folk sound with the majority of the track consisting of only gentle strumming and vocals. The final A/F track, Raising The Sparks, marches out in 60s Garage Rock style, contrasting sharply with the non-aggressive stroll they wandered in with. Angels of Light’s section begins spectacularly with Gira’s Johnny Cash-esque ruggedness infused into a cover of I Pity The Poor Immigrant with Akron/Family showing their ability to restrain when needed (as well as providing drunken bar patron style backing vocals), nearly dispelling my long-standing argument that nobody does Dylan better than Dylan. The remaining Angels of Light’s tracks - including the exceptional Mother/Father, a chanting, drum circle re-arrangement of a 1994 Swans track (Gira’s past band and reason for starting Young God Records) - flow through their course with guided precision, but allow the orchestration to erupt into gritty jamming when appropriate, showing a little more maturity and refrain than when the Akron/Family boys are left to their own devices but that’s what makes them great. And it’s also what makes this a wonderful split release, there’s a delicate balance of contrast and cohesiveness. Another stellar release from the cornerstone of the modern folk world.