Akron/Family are four extremely nice, sincere and well-mannered young men from rural America who came to NYC (in 2002) to make music, hoping to find a thread of real magic still winding through this city's music scene. They certainly did just that, but they did it by retreating into a tiny Brooklyn apartment, where they made their own world instead, in complete and stubborn isolation. They proceeded (while simultaneously growing alarmingly long beards and developing a playful but hermetic quasi-religious/sonic worldview/creed known as "AK" or sometimes "AK-AK") to make several albums worth of recordings on crude home equipment – the material compulsively chopped, spliced, and orchestrated into fractal jewels of song and schismatically opposed atmospheres.
They accrued at least 3 albums worth of music in this obsessive manner. Along the way, they sent me the increasingly compelling results. Soon I was completely won over – stunned in fact – by a show at Brooklyn's Pete's Candy Store, where the music veered from gentle American country folk to unabashed electronic noise to gathering and erupting crescendos, to extended skronk improvisations that then suddenly cut to an LSD version of a backwoods barbershop quartet or a Louvin Brothers spiritual – sometimes all within the course of one ridiculously long "song" – ha ha!
Ryan, who sings lead on most of the songs, has one of those pure and sonorous voices that when sliding up to the higher registers inevitably evokes comparisons to angels and elicits uncomfortable feelings in girl and boy alike, but when they all sing together it's like the goddamn Beatles or Beach Boys or maybe an eerie and twisted version of The Band.
When we started work on this album we first spent a good deal of time sifting through the trove of already-recorded songs. A few of those are included here with varying amounts of further orchestration. The rest of the songs are highly edited-down studio versions of the abovementioned live "epics", Young God Records not being just yet in the position of being able to release a triple CD debut (!).
They've got an enthusiasm for pure sound too that shows through in many of the songs – note the squeaking chair in Italy that Miles "played" or the weirdly skewed composition of Suchness (but still a formidable "pop" song, in my opinion), or the "drum" in Rainforest, which is actually all four Akrons simultaneously violently beating their chests, the resulting percussive sound being the air released from their mouths with each beat. As we worked, a song would sometimes be described as too "red" or not "aluminum" enough or some other arcane (to me) reference, but inevitably, corrections made with the aid of a screwdriver or maybe the sanded metal rails of a staircase resulted in an unpredictable but "correct" result.
In any event, there's a wealth of sonic variety contained herein, and first and foremost they're great SONGS, and well sung indeed. I certainly hope you enjoy the music!
– Michael Gira/Young God Records
*I enjoyed working with Akron so much in fact that for my own current Angels of Light album I solicited their services as backing band and full collaborators on the arrangements. They all play about 20 instruments, and their abovementioned "AK" approach to the process contributed greatly to a revivification of my own music, for which I owe them gratitude. They'll be touring the USA as openers for Angels of Light in April '05, and will also then play as my band live.
Produced by M.Gira and Akron/Family
Seth Olinsky (various instruments, vocals) age 23, from Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Miles Seaton(various instruments, vocals) age 25, from Porterville, Ca.
Dana Janssen (various instruments, vocals) age 24, from Williamsport Pennsylvania.
Ryan Vanderhoof (various instruments, vocals) age 25, from Union Springs New York.