Akron/Family | Review
Erasing Clouds | dave heaton
opens with the band in a full-on rage of a jam, propelled by drums and exploding guitars.Sept '06
"Gone / gone / gone beyond / gone completely beyond" Akron/Family sing together as a campfire folk ditty (sort of) on Meek Warrior's second track "Gone Beyond." And those words are an apt description of the album, somehow. On their debut self-titled album, on the split album they did with Angels of Light, and through their un-ending touring, the group has consistently shown that they're capable of anything,and of surprise, most of all. They sing beautifully together, spaced-out mystical choruses. And they play their ample instruments in a free-wheeling manner, like they're always off exploring some other planet.
But this album goes beyond all that, takes it to the next level. They're calling it their "special album", presumably cause they see it as a one-off, quickly recorded kind of thing. Or maybe it's cause they work with other musicians, with free-jazz drummer Hamid Drake in particular. In any case, saying the music itself is special is just a start. It's over-the-wall, off-the-cliff, on-another-plane-of-existence special. The first track "Blessing Force" opens with the band in a full-on rage of a jam, propelled by drums and exploding guitars. That breaks into some kind of human-sacrifice singing that shifts into a singalong about "plastic boys" (I think). And then the guitars use that ragged melody to jump into a tight (but loose) jam that's even more fiery. And it just keeps going from there, into some delicate, playful playing, into some super-aggressive guitar crunch stuff, into an out-there sax solo. It's all over the place, and completely invigorating. And that's just the first track.
Meek Warrior isn't all in such an aggressively driven state of mind; there's softly exploratory moments, including fuzzed-out hymns to some star or god or spiritual force, and a piano ballad duet / break-up song that quickly turns into a messed-up meditation on space and then into calming, gentle sort of existence. There's what seems to be a gospel song, maybe. And a folk song sung backwards, or in another language. Then again, in a way this is all in another language, and that's part of its brilliance, why it's so exciting and time-stopping, whether they're playing loud and wild and free, or quiet and thoughtful and free.