Akron/Family & Angels of Light, Angels of Light & Akron/Family

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 11.27.11 in Reviews
At this point, two bands working as one

Upon returning from an extended tour together, Michael Gira’s Angels of Light and Akron/Family — actually one and the same band, at this point – took to the studio and banged out this album in just nine days. Listeners unfamiliar with Akron/Family’s own music will quickly realize that the band is a very different kind of beast when not backing Gira; their portion of the record mulls over a spidery, ruminative chord progression of the sort you’d be unlikely to hear from Angels of Light; the next song, “Moment,” begins with an unbridled explosion of free-improv noise freakout whose energy is the antithesis of Gira’s brand of controlled chaos. Like a vagabond Grizzly Bear on uppers, they dedicate their half of the record to an exuberant strain of psych-rock, what Gira called “Beatles meets Beefheart backwoods midnight incantation.” On Gira’s side, he picks up the old-timey baton for uncharacteristically rootsy songs like “I Pity the Poor Immigrant,” a country-blues number in which he assumes the mantle of Woody Guthrie — however unlikely that might sound. The best of his batch might be “Mother/Father,” a ragged mantra for whooping, multi-part vocal harmonies and dangerously syncopated toms.