Akron Family/Angels Of Light | Review | Russ

I was literally speechless after the show

Jan 06
Akron Family/Angels Of Light

Disclaimer: I have never written a review of music before. It's not because I'm not passionate about music, or I'm too lazy to write anything. It's just that my opinion on most albums is boring and redundant. You don't need hear me use tired adjectives like "hook-laden" and "transcendent," or to tell you that so-and-so sounds like Pavement. I don't want to talk about the songs or the artists hairstyles and why you should buy it, or not. That's what Magnet and Pitchfork are for.

I've been a fan of Michael Gira's for a while now‹Swans, Angels of Light, you name it. I was fortunate enough to see him play with the Akron/Family in Tucson not too long ago. It was so beyond anything that I had come to expect of shows that I was literally speechless after the show and ended up making a fool out of myself when I tried to speak to Gira at his merchandise table. I won't talk anymore about that. Akron/Family's set reminded me of what it was like to have a connection or relationship to someone so close that words are not needed to convey ideas or emotions. They write to please themselves first and it shows. Quiet whispers to cacophony! I don't want to try and describe their music because then we would be missing the point (I'm not sure my descriptions could do it justice anyways). The music itself is timeless, and so is their passion to play it. Thinking about them on stage makes me regret doing anything at all that I'm not wholehearted about. Secretly exchanged smiles at hidden jokes, creaking chairs, and televisions as instruments, small musical oddities being tossed and caught in perfect time all these things added up to create a musical atmosphere where the word "mistake" lost all meaning.

This split CD seems to accomplish what most recordings only grasp at: to capture a moment in time that not only conveys the auditory sounds but the tensions and emotions that are being passed back and forth between the players. Both Gira and the Family played unreleased songs at the show, all of which found their way to this recording session. Even after hearing the songs only once at the show they are instantly recognizable, bringing the elation I felt at the show back from the hidden depths of my subconscious. Four part harmonies surround you, lyrics that take my imagination to breezy wheat fields with old friends, trees visible in the distance through gentle, hazy sunlight. We have a destination, and we're taking these guys with.

Michael Gira was a good man to record and distribute Akron/Family's music. He was even smarter to make them his Angels of Light. His voice has never sounded so comfortable among the music. In past recordings it sometimes feels as though his dominant voice is battling the music (which I think is the point). This recording, along with his last album Angels of Light Sing "Other People," presents a new vision of songwriting and instrument structure. His lyrics remain bleak and somewhat frightening as usual, but he almost seems more comfortable telling you that you're going to die a painful, miserable, solitary death, or whatever he's talking about. I have to admit that Gira's music makes me a little restless, but that's the reason I haven't grown tired of his art. I thought (almost hoped) that meeting him and exchanging words would expose him as the normal, Wal-Mart shopping, Starbucks drinking dude that he is, but it only made things worse. He has an obvious vocal presence on record that only intensifies if you look at his eyes in person (hell, even check out a photograph). Luckily Akron/Family came along to ease the pain. If they can keep up with Gira, then I don't feel so uncomfortable anymore. I think that they've all crashed on my couch at one time or another, or maybe I'm confusing them with some other fashionable hippies I used to know. But the space between all of these musicians' differences is where this perfect music comes from. It's not that it's catchy (even though it can be) or that every song is a masterpiece (even though they are, or are close), but the fact that the way it makes me feel the way I do is the reason that I listen to their music. Isn't that the point?