Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Album Preview: Akron/Family - Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT

Akron/Family recently announced their upcoming album, their sixth LP and their second full length release on Dead Oceans. The strangely titled Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT will be in stores on February 8th in the U.S. and February 16th in the U.K. This was the press release sent out from Dead Oceans:

Finally, after over a month of unanswered emails and text messages, blown deadlines, and pleas to finish and turn in their new album, last week, a large brown cardboard box showed up at the Dead Oceans doorstep. It had “SHINJU TNT” scrawled across the bottom of the box in black magic marker, and the return address read only “AK, Detroit.”

Opening it revealed a sincere but poorly made diorama of futurist swirling spaces filled with toy astronauts and dinosaurs, four blown out song fragments on a TDK CDR in a ziplock bag, three pictures, a track list written in crayon, and a typewritten note from Akron/Family. A post-it on the bag declared that the band refused to send the full album to anyone but the vinyl pressing plant, for fear of leaking and possible lost revenues.

From the note and a short video that arrived days later, we’ve pieced together that the album was written in a cabin built into the side of Mount Meakan, an active volcano in Akan National Park, on the island of Hokkaido, Japan. It was recorded in an abandoned train station in Detroit with the blackest white dude we all know, Chris Koltay (Liars, Women, Deerhunter, Holy Fuck, No Age). Chris, on tour after finishing the record, commented: “This album will transcend the Internet.”

Akron/Family spent the end of 2009 and half of 2010 exploring the future of sound through Bent Acid Punk Diamond fuzz and Underground Japanese noise cassettes, lower case micro tone poems and emotional Cagean field recordings, rebuilding electronic drums from the ’70s and playing them with sticks they carved themselves. Upon miraculous resuscitation of the original AKAK hard drive, the album layers thousands of minute imperceptible samples of their first recordings with fuzzed-out representations of their present beings to induce pleasant emotional feeling states and many momentary transcendent inspirations.

This album is titled S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. We have no idea what that means.

Akron/Family – S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT Track Listing:
1. Silly Bears
2. Island
4. So It Goes
5. Another Sky
6. Light Emerges
7. Cast a Net
8. Tatsuya Neon Purple Walkby
9. Fuji I (Global Dub)
10. Say What You Want To
11. Fuji II (Single Pane)
12. Canopy
13. Creator

On December 24th a version of the album marked 2/6 was leaked online, it was a radical departure from the band's typical mix of folk and prog. rock, although they have incorporated some experimental elements into their sound before it has been nothing to this extent. The version of the album that leaked sounds like Holy Fuck, Animal Collective and Aids Wolf on an acid trip, an overwhelming combustion of noise that seems almost destructive. On December 28th another leak reportedly surfaced, this time marked 1/6, although I haven't heard it yet reports state that it is an alternate mix of the previous leak heard. Apparently someone close to the band has said that they are purposefully leaking deconstructed versions of the album to whet the appetite of fans as well as cause rumblings around the blogosphere, but thus far all is a rumor. One thing is for sure, this is a great marketing strategy, from the bizarre press release to the cryptic clues posted on the band's Twitter page alerting followers to THIS video as well as the teaser trailer posted below. Whether or not this album turns out to really be a noise experiment or if we'll eventually be presented with a more conventional release belying these tasters I certainly want to pay attention until the final product hits the shelves.

AKAK from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

Akron/Family on Myspace


"This is not to be taken seriously. This is not to be read as opinions. It is to be read as poetry. Its obvious that I am on the educated level of about 10th grade in high school. Its obvious that these words were not thought out or even re-read. this writing style is what I like to call thru the perspective of a 10th grader. her/his attempt at showing that no matter what level of intelligence one is on, we all question love and lack of love and fear of love.

Its good to question authority and to fight it just to make things a little less boring, but ive always reverted back to the conclusion that man is not redeemable and words that dont necersarily have their expected meanings can be used descriptively in a sentence as Art. True english is so fucking boring. And this little pit-stop we call life, that we so seriously worry about is nothing but a small, over the week jail sentence, compared to what will come with death.

life isnt nearly as sacred as the appreciation of passion." -Kurt Cobain, Journals, p.175

I recently read Kurt Cobain's Journals, first published in 2002 by Riverhead Books; a collection of writings by Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana. Although Cobain sadly committed suicide on April 5th, 1994, his legacy lives on today as he remains one of the most iconic musicians in alternative music, or perhaps of all time; in 2006 he was the number one top-earning deceased celebrity in the world according to Forbes. Journals presents a series of private entries, letters, lists, sketches and music ideas all written by Cobain, beginning with a letter he wrote to Dale Crover, lead singer of the Melvins, in 1988 and ending with a bizarre rant about an interview between Sylvestor Stallone and Larry King written in a hotel in Rome shortly before his death. The journals offer some interesting insight into Cobain's vision for the band as well as the evolution of songs that would feature on their albums. Those looking for some great revelation or real words of wisdom may be disappointed; while Cobain's wit and perceptiveness are evident, an over abundance of bitterness and paranoia permeates much of the personal writings and observations. As the journal entries continue and the subject of his stomach pains and heroin use are introduced things get quite dark, but I personally found it more sad than disturbing and I ultimately sympathized with him in his tragic downfall. As a document this is a highly engrossing read, regardless of your approval or disdain in regards to the subject matter or opinions expressed.

Anyone looking for a more coherent autobiographical look at Kurt Cobain should seek out the 2006 documentary by AJ Schnack titled Kurt Cobain About A Son, featuring selected excerpts edited from the 25 hours of audiotape interviews with Cobain conducted by music journalist Michael Azzerad recorded for his book Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana, which was originally released in 1993 and altered with an extra chapter included in 1994 following Cobain's death. Azzerad collaborated with Schnack to create the documentary, which is a lovingly crafted meditative piece in which Cobain is heard speaking from the beginning to the end of the one and a half hour running time over almost static film footage of locations that relate to his words and the stories he tells. I highly recommend this film to anyone, not just fans of Nirvana, as long as you stay clear of the awful and pointless 1998 documentary Kurt & Courtney. View the trailer for Kurt Cobain About A Son below.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, I spent my NYE DJing at Momo's on Heddon Street with Nicola Robinson and Emmanuel Balogun and boy did we have a good time! Bring on 2011!