Akron/Family, Sub Verses

Ashley Melzer

By Ashley Melzer

on 04.30.13 in Reviews

A cabin on the side of an active volcano is a captivating image. There, pastoral peace shares space with violent bombast; the world is a fury, a wonder. As a metaphor it’s an exceptional fit for Akron/Family’s music; as a real place, it served as the location from the writing of their last release, 2011′s ecstatic S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. Some two years later the band has come down from the mountain and crawled down into the doom basement (studio) of Seattle producer Randall Dunn. The new songs take aim at familiar targets (harmony, frenzy), but find the band working with an adventurous set of influences to brute, yet majestic ends.

Working with adventurous influences to brute, yet majestic ends

The album flips between prog-psych freak-outs, monastic slow jams, Afro-pop rhythm and noise-addled soul. Reverb drenched vocals, swells of minor-keyed strings, futzed electronics, complex drum rhythms smack against handclaps, jangly guitars and lightly spaced tambourine, and horns. The tracks skid from one time signature or influence to another, but feel of a whole — like some take on American roots by way of a post-industrial Africa invaded by Eastern shamans. On paper, it sounds haphazard, incomplete. But Akron/Family build these disparate parts into something explosive or holy or both, time and again on Sub Verses. There’s no mythic volcano to stamp the narrative; there’s only a radical harmony, divergent strands threading together.