Akron / Family

The Echo Presents

Akron / Family

Avi Buffalo, M Geddes Gengras, DJ Trevor Baade (Jacknife Records & Tapes)

Wed, May 8, 2013

8:30 pm

The Echo

Los Angeles, California

$10.00 - $12.00

This event is 18 and over

Akron / Family
Akron / Family
It was a century ago when I first saw Akron/Family perform, in the tiny back room of a bar in
Brooklyn that held perhaps 20 people. Akron sat in chairs on a small stage festooned with red
velvet and small theater light bulbs, their plentiful gadgets and musical toys littering more than
a few tables – always seemingly on the verge of collapse. The young men awkwardly held
their guitars in their laps or gently played drums/percussion, apparently trying not to knock
anything over (to disastrous results) mid set. Cables and extension cords laced through their
legs, they proffered a sort of delicate, improvisational experimentalism, laced with occasional
rock grooves, but most extraordinarily, often punctuated with beautiful 4 part harmonies...
Time passed, and I recall seeing them at a sold out show somewhere in Europe and thinking
“Wait! This is fucking Led Zeppelin!” - and that is a huge vote of approval. They sounded
nothing like LZ of course, but something about the supercharged commitment and force of
the sound evoked a similar full blooded ROCK, albeit with an adventurous, skewed bent and
a marked tendency to let things suddenly collapse into utter chaos then snap back just as
quickly into focus in a moment of pure, unabashed sonority. Absolutely thrilling, stunning, and
great fun, too...
More time passed, and they worshiped at the throne of late period Beatles, filtered through
the lens of their own idiosyncratic tendency to mash things up and change atmosphere/
context in an instant...
Yet more time passed and free jazz improv and deep sonic meditations came to the fore,
always brought into focus with their unique brand of vocal harmony and frankly trenchant
Now even more time has passed, and we find them rocking (still rocking) but now in a
skittering kaleidoscope. The shards of music styles and influences flung through the speakers
from all directions, congealing for a second, then just as quickly dissolving into something
new and unexpected. They’re amphetamine crazed jugglers of sound and texture, but there’s
always those vocals, rooting the thing in a deep and satisfying place.
It seems to me lots of groups these days view the whole history of music as fair game for their
palette, which might be understandable, since it’s all there at easy access now, but most of it
seems like playing dress up to me, and certainly it exists in inverted commas.
There are no inverted commas in the world of AK. They’re inside the music, grinding it,
fighting it, chewing it, digesting it, then spewing it up to the sky in a multicolored spray of
endless sound and love.

I wrote these random, extremely inarticulate notes while listening to Sub Verses:
“Seeing this: a thick purple perfumed mist spreads out across the cracked desert floor as
the raider AKs ride forth on bloodied white stallions - somehow quintessentially American.
A conflation of orchestrated Jazz, Prog Psych, R&B and devotional mantras. Their hermetic
hero guitars serve the master sky...
Stomping monsters harried by stuttering tin fractured birds set a scene for cycling Akron call
and response....
Nothing’s predictable, forms shifting...
Song structure dictated only by forward momentum, the sprawl of unfolding sound...
Weirdly effeminate whimsy leads quickly to brash and brazen hard rock before dissolving into
an echo of itself...
All sound fed to the grinder...

Grizzled Beach Boys, fully bearded and flea infested willfully surrendering to the lysergic gas
attack. Hold your shriveled ego and watch it unfold like a purple meat-flower in your grubby
Clouds shifting at full speed – gelatinous, deliquescing tectonic plates lurching overhead...
Mothers of Invention berate and whip Beefheart on a leash through traffic. Cars are rabid
dogs nipping at the heels of rhythm. Growling, time breaks down and Beach Boys reappear
swinging sledgehammers that melt instantly as they strike and flow/melt into hot red lava in a
desert ditch then steams in metal drones of vapor, aluminum sheens hovering just above the
Chet Baker’s trumpet spills silver toxic goo on cracked filthy bare feet....
Sudden industrial grind sets scene for hairball shaman rant....
These omnivores are cannibals too...
Pop/rock music of the last 50 years put through a meat grinder and leavened with battery acid
and honey....
Who would have thought they’d become voracious beasts...
Orchestrated chaos...
Genesis P-Orridge’s Throbbing demon screeching through the throats of suddenly fever-eyed
ordinary American optimist males...
Reach to the sky, but the sky is a thick swirl of purple/brown goo...
Big ass rock riffs trudge awkwardly forward with some kind of internal simian elegance of
A giant concrete hall teeming with naked hairy fans shining with sweat and writhing like
upright snakes to the curling cycling riffs of the crazed and lit avatars of a new perversely
inverted animal psych....
Ghost of Spector/Lennon in another concrete hall in the same filmic world where Lynch’s
Eraserhead lives...
An herbal guitar solo unfurls liquidly, redly, into smoke machine haze...
Music dissolves in sad earnest mist of drenched melancholy, spent... “

Michael Gira | Swans | Young God records

The album started with visions of large monumental sounds inspired by Heizer
and Turrell; American works on a grand scale, monuments, dirty hands and an
epic American masculinity. Dust, Stone, Sky, Earth.
These broad, bold strokes would come to pass but not quite as expected.
A Sci Fi aesthetic narrative emerged. Tackling distant pasts and future
humanism, the pain and idiocy of our contemporary culture. How to deal with it
open heartedly? The boredom, the sadness and speed. The plots within plots of
Dune mirrored in many layers of sound. Creating 3D sonic atmospheres that our
songs and singers inhabit.
Our story, a story, all stories. Told in verses, in underground language, in sub
frequencies. Not audible, only felt, intuited, imagined in some deepest psychic
space that you are yet to know. A strange story. Of the future, of yourself. Of

everyone. We are all we are, only this and yet we move forward. Along some line
to somewhere. And who knows?

Seth Olinsky | Akron/Family

As with other Akron/Family records the Idiomatic perspective shifts restlessly. From Shamanic
hypno-mantras to Noise-damaged Soul anthems to North african street frenzy, from Droning
Microtonal Balladry to modular synthesizer destruction to Lynchian Doo-Wop and back again.
The sound is propulsive and driven by it's physicality, and a disciplined acknowledgement
of Lineage. Akron/Family is here, with drums and guitars like divining rods calling on Sonny
Sharrock and Link Wray, on Elvin Jones and John Bonham, on Jimmy Garrison and Aston
Barrett. But when we sing we are calling on ourselves, on the deep river of inspiration that
connects the whole. We are singing Old Stories. The narrative thread is one of the Desert,
that ancient ocean floor, long dried to reveal a barren expanse of scorched fossils. Of Life and
Death and Time, of a vision of a people, weary and traumatized - driven from their nobility
and sense of purpose to the brink of total nihilism under the lash of information overload.
Intelligence giving way to remix culture, nothing to do but blindly live as customers, stumbling,
content drunk through the digital bazaar. A bunch of fucking Payers. All of us. The hot wind is
blowing hard on us and what is there to do but turn our face to it and sing?

Miles Seaton | Akron/Family
Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo
Embarking upon a sophomore effort can be a daunting task for any young upstart, and there's no denying Avi Buffalo's own bar was set quite high with 2010's celebrated eponymous debut. Fear not, dear fans/family/friends/friends of friends/newcomers, there's nothing in this tale about The Second Album–a.k.a. At Best Cuckold, due September 8th in Europe and September 9th in North America on Sub Pop–that even remotely resembles a slump; in fact, it would be entirely appropriate to say that this Long Beach, California, enterprise is getting better with age.

Ah, yes, age–much was made of it when Avi Buffalo's first album hit the ground running, and for good reason: While their Millikan High School classmates were preoccupied with quaint and youthful pursuits, the musicians behind Avi Buffalo were busy making an off-kilter pop gem that eventually bowled over NME, The AV Club, Pitchfork, the BBC, and numerous other outlets on both sides of the Atlantic whose tastes are respected by the general public. Like a lot of kids their age, the Buffaloes celebrated the end of high school in Europe, but instead of visiting the Louvre and Buckingham Palace, their overseas journeys took them to the festival stages of Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury, the Pavement-curated All Tomorrow's Parties in Minehead, and beyond.

So is Avi Buffalo a he or a them? The answer is a definitive yes, as leader Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg has lent his musical nickname–bestowed in childhood by a pal who'd picked up on his friend's inclination toward spicy chicken wings–to this full-fledged outfit that works something like a solo project in the studio and then builds into a band onstage. Not that he goes it alone when recording–to the contrary, many able-bodied compatriots, including longtime collaborator Sheridan Riley, have assisted with committing his songs to tape–but everything begins and ends with Avi, and after ending a year on the road in support of the first record, he decided to take his time beginning work on the second.

The creation of At Best Cuckold turned out to be a three-year journey; a stretch of time that resembles its predecessor. While transitioning from teenager to twentysomething and traversing the interpersonal wilds which accompany that age, Avi kept playing music (even picking up a new instrument every now and again), collaborated with and produced several friends (including Kevin Litrow's N.O.W. project and Douglas James Sweeney's Arjuna Genome), and even started DJing. He also wrote new songs, and by the time 2013 rolled around, it was time to begin capturing his latest sparks–with that, the band headed into the studio on New Year's Day.

Two weeks later, the basic tracks for At Best Cuckold were recorded, having been captured at Tiny Telephone, the analog-friendly San Francisco studio run by John Vanderslice of John Vanderslice fame. The engineering was actually handled by Jay Pellicci (The Dodos, Deerhoof, Sleater-Kinney), though during his stay, Avi had a chance to play with the head honcho when he was asked to contribute to JV's tribute to Bowie's Diamond Dogs. Needless to say, Avi has nice things to say about the place.

The "clean and tight" recordings from Tiny Telephone served as perfect skeletons for Avi to flesh out with his analog and digital overdubs, which were completed over the next year or so at various locations around Southern California. ("I've always had a lot of fun with overdubs," says Avi. "Maybe my favorite instrument is overdubs.") The result–which was completed and mixed with Nicolas Vernhes at his Rare Book Room studio in Brooklyn–is a quirky yet comforting set of songs driven by refined pop songcraft and sneaky moments of grandeur that stick in the brain. Classic-sounding melodies are delivered with a modern sensibility, creating an album that's equal parts timely and timeless. Well-placed piano, sax, clarinet, French horn, and cornet further enhance the proceedings with a glorious orch-pop sheen.

"So What" gets things started with its understated charm and sing-songy goodness, however, it isn't until the rollicking "Memories of You" that Avi lets his trademark falsetto fly. There are great pop moments all over At Best Cuckold, but Avi also excels at moodiness, exemplified in subdued beauties like "Two Cherished Understandings" and "Oxygen Tank."

"I really like some of the ballad aspects of this record–it's kind of my tribute to the ballad," says Avi. "I predicted in an interview during the time of my first record what I was going to use in my next record, and I said a lot of major seventh chords, which, to me, sounded like laying down. And that ended up in the record, too."

Lyrically, there are a lot of unsettled emotions on the album; a product of Avi observing the world around him and writing "about life, dealing with relationships and yourself, and trying to keep your head up and keep learning amidst whatever it is you're going through." Disappointment ("Thought we understood each other well / I was wrong as usual") and anxiety ("Someone told me if I messed around / then my head would fill up with guilty clouds") abound, though there's also a feeling that everything is eventually going to turn out okay, even when everything seems to be falling apart during closer "Won't Be Around No More." If anything, Avi's passionate delivery is the ultimate source of optimism.

At the ripe old age of 23, Avi Buffalo is ready to take on the world (again), armed with all of the experience he's compiled over the past few years. And he's made sure the second time around will be just as memorable as the first.
M Geddes Gengras
M Geddes Gengras
M. GEDDES GENGRAS has spent the last 7 years as a fixture in the Los Angeles experimental music scene. Most recently, he was recognized for his collaboration with SUN ARAW and roots-reggae legends THE CONGOS (2012's ICON GIVE THANK) which received praise from such far-flung publications as The New York Times, Pitchfork, The Wire (#2 album of 2012), and Artforum. He has logged time as a member/producer of many bands such as SUN ARAW, POCAHAUNTED, L.A. VAMPIRES, ROBEDOOR, and, most recently, AKRON/FAMILY. With Sun Araw's Cameron Stallones, he co-founded Duppy Gun Productions, a label that links up American producers with vocalists from Jamaica and is currently distributed by STONES THROW RECORDS. His solo work is based in modular synthesis and comfortably straddles a variety of forms, (kosmische, drone, experimental, musique concrète, and techno, to name a few) while remaining rooted in a deep affinity for the limitations of analog synthesis and a keen ear for timbral manipulation. Recently Gengras released his first solo lp (Test Leads) on Intercoastal Artists/Holy Mountain, a 12" ep under his PERSONABLE guise for the L.A.-based label Peak Oil, and toured the US and Canada with LAUREL HALO and ITAL.

'...he flies under his birth name for 'Test Leads', perhaps his purest and most honest revelation to date; two sprawling sides of throbbing womb bass, glinting arpeggios and awning drones split into four tracks. 'Waldorf Pts. 1 & 2' unfurl across the first, calling to mind the classic topographies of Klaus Schulze's 'Dune' LP while ascending spiralling synths through mind-expanding strata until the momentum tips into full blown 4/4 throb and raga-esque whorls like some Goan trance bliss out. A heady 'part 3' concludes that trip on the flipside, but not before 'Night Work' pushes into deep into svelte techno psychedelia and the spindly hyper-rhythmic pulses, thrumming bass and swarming dissonance of 'Cairo' acutely recalls Conrad Schnitzler at his earliest and best.' - BOOMKAT

'Standing on a stage fitted with a carpet of actual grass, a bearded, bespectacled M. Geddes Gengras let rip a 15-minute blast of analog beats and synth tones, ranging from deep bass to high-pitched signal skree. Sun Araw bandmate Cameron Stallones was standing at the front snapping cellphone picks as the Los Angeles synthesist crouched low behind an open gear box, a cigarette in his fingers burning slowly down to the tip. Imagine the violent contortions of LA beat music layered so many times back onto themselves that you get the flickering saturation of a drone, and that's kind of what it sounded like.' - VICE
Venue Information:
The Echo
1822 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, California, 90026