Akron/Family & Angels of Light 

Akron/Family & Angels of Light

After dissolving the legendary noise-rock outfit Swans, mastermind Michael Gira turned to a less brutal, more acoustic, yet often just as disturbing approach with his new group, Angels of Light. For this split LP, he is backed by Brooklyn's Akron/Family, a quartet of singing multi-instrumentalists who also take over the record's first half, assimilating an astounding array of styles while projecting an oddly relaxed vibe -- there's no smug, golly-aren't-we-zany-and-eclectic artifice. The sparse, trippy Syd Barrett-like meditation of "Awake" is followed by "Moment," featuring a thrash/noise freakout that'd scare the Butthole Surfers, though it soon eases into agitated prog-rock before concluding with a backporch sing-along. Elsewhere, there's droning minimalism, Led Zeppelin-type rock, and Americana rusticity with great harmonies. Gira's set begins with a heartfelt (though slightly queasy) take on Dylan's timely-again "I Pity the Poor Immigrant," his deep, world-weary vocals perfectly befitting the subject matter. The most Swans-like track, though, is the eerie "Come for My Woman," its marching cadence suggesting a work song sung by a chain gang in Hell. Nice.

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