Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Cassette Review: Ak'Chamel, The Giver of Illness "Death Chants" (Already Dead Tapes)

I still remember back when Ak'Chamel was known to me as that artist who experimented with VHS tapes.   This was years ago, but it was the first time I had ever heard of anyone using VHS tapes to make music before.   I suppose it is easy enough to think of the conversion from cassettes in this sense to VHS, but still, not as many people have access to VCR as they would a tape deck.   Isn't it funny how they still market a stereo that would come with a tape deck, record player, CD player, digital dock and radio tuner and yet they don't have any advanced Blu-Ray/DVD/VHS/Laser Disc/cable tuning type of thing for the television?

This cassette begins with a dark sort of chanting.   A random sort of horn synth comes in and then it's clank and drudge through dark acoustics.    I would call this one "haunted melodies" but part of that is because this reminds me of something played on a really old record player, such as from an old black and white cartoon (you either know the type or you don't and I suppose it depends upon your knowledge of animation)   I also used the word "dark" in my notes a lot because this has the presence of a funeral.  It resembles Murder By Death in some way but that's about the only other artist I can relate it with.

A pulsating heart turns into a flurry of utter chaos.   This is somehow heavier than death metal; this is somehow heavier than death.   It's droning now.   Alien lasers take over.   Then a sitar.   Rambling ruckus turns from this "Desperado" feel into a sound of horns which mimic a radio station being tuned.   We return to the sad acoustics from earlier on this side and then through this sort of party feel with toms (drums) it ends on that "Desperado" vibe.

On the flip side we open up with jittery whirrs.  There are briefly some bells mixed in as well.   This brings on a delicately played classical guitar number.    A driving guitar riff with chanting generates an urgent guitar rattle.   The guitars get singing/chanting mixed in next for this sort of hymn feel.    I am reminded of the demos and early outtakes of Nirvana (see: that boxed set they did)  Guitars once again seem to be the focus of this side as they plow through with space lasers.

The particular chanting and the strumming of the bass-filled guitar remind me of this one particular song by The Who.   I can vaguely hear drums and I'm not sure if the only guitar being played is the bass but this is the closest I think I've ever heard Ak'Chamel come to a traditional song.    Organs come on next to give it that church feel and the chanting/ohm singing only makes me believe my earlier idea about hymns was correct.

It has been a little while since I last heard Ak'Chamel but I feel like every time I hear their music it only gets better.   On one hand, I want to say that I'm surprised that Already Dead would release a cassette by Ak'Chamel because lately I've been listening to cassettes on this label that aren't really in this genre (Not to say they haven't explored this type of music before though)   I suppose it just goes to show though that if you are around long enough and make consistently good music your efforts will not go unnoticed.

Sold Out // https://alreadydeadtapes.bandcamp.com/album/ad256-akchamel-the-giver-of-illness-death-chants

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