After plenteous cassette experimentation’s, starting from 2013, that made their discography bountiful with special gems, Ak’chamel‘s debut album, The Totemist, is on vinyl – propelling this strange group to new ears.
Self-released March 27, then released February 2, 2020 through Akuphone, The Totemist is interesting, not only in how it manages to perform wildly phantasmal soundscapes, but maintaining a relaxed order of things; never deterring from the path it lays in the first tracks; and never relinquishing in over-produced audio quality – everything is always kept evocative and refreshing.
Ak’chamel, The Giver of Illness are fourth world post-colonial cultural cannibalists circumcising the foreskin of enlightenment. Performing in homemade costumes and masks,they have played festivals in various cities around the U.S gaining international attention from Vice, The Wire, Tiny Mix Tapes, Consequence of Sound, and many more. Enter the fourth world now!Ak’chamel, The Giver of Illness
Firedriver is an eclectic journey through cherry-blooming hills. A melange of classical guitar melodies blend perfectly with clean, steady drums; exhuming an ambient spirit from the background. Dynamically treated arrangement’s cast an interesting timber of color piercing the skin of the forest. Birds echo, and reverberate, across these crisp fields; as vintage synths and slowed-down aura treats you to a fragment of peace shining like an ever-extending object in which can never be reached. Bells chime among bongo’s playing softly, and blissful chant-like murmurs wash over you in a hazy dream. Transitioning to a variant of these sounds, The Funeral of a Woman Whose Soul is Trapped in the Sun presents a beautiful mixture of tribal pleasures interwoven with the guitar’s crisp melody. Eccentric and distorted audio-work harmonizes meditation, as the track expresses a vagabond identity – on the outskirts of a geometrically manipulated universe. Inherent psychic relief from North African medley to the continuous heaviness of vocals offering dreamy drone of psychedelia.
The music continues to embellish this story with a flux of various rhythm’s and tempo’s on the bongo; as superimposed waves bathe your ears.
The morning sun rises from expanding horizons, illuminating a soft shade of gold to extend and reveal the sparse detail of landscape.
Protected By The Ejaculation of Serpents opens with what reminds me of the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when the Holy Grail monks chant something in Latin and then bash themselves on the head. Though, at least here it was done to extend the brightly animated sacrificial overtones conducted religiously in this album. Sounds screech and groan, rotating and brightening the land like the sun’s journey; warm bells and various instruments shed this chanting.
Sounds of a harmonica in the background are creatively shrouded by the guitar’s articulation; but encompassing rhythm, and flowing with the nature of the tribal drums. A bass swells and grows upon the valley, indicating progression as evolution of life ensues. The music gently picks up the traveler, as we embark further on our phantastic journey; traversing luscious charisma.
Dark Hat is a terrifying expanse into the unknown. Dance beats skittered here and there but more often than not are worked as texturing tools against the rest of the ambient Ak’chamel, The Ecstatic Brotherhood of Nux Vomica nebulous compositions. Probably my favorite out of the bunch; a wonderful concoction of beautiful resonating melody from a flute; a chronicle of the same vocal-work introduced in the second song; and a series of organized clatter and location recordings. At times it sounds of light hybrid, folklore styles melded with the dark ambient energy and dilapidated musical structures – while at others it’s almost pure desert, forged with the bustling chaos of the burning heat, and the temptation to expand this cult.
To Travel The Path of Every Sickness awakes with raw power; it focuses to craft minimal, steady movements while adding field recordings to keep the journey strong; this track is surely one that will be devoured by ambient fans alike. I enjoy that, although looped continuously through muddy and trashed classical guitars embellished in a spirit lost in a foreign land, the track quickly descends into sharp, charismatic tolls from a mysterious large bell. Suddenly, a whir of titanic wind cascades from the resonating sounds and descends the atmosphere into a quiet, meditative state, allowing for the final ethereal transformation of natural instruments.
In Phallus Pallace, you can hear the unity of various devices and dirty instruments singing their own identity woven through the anatomy of aforementioned concepts, from the wonderful introduction of buttery guitar notes superimposed with another track of growling decay repeating hypnotizing melodies.
The tribal drums do a great job creating this sphere of cult immortality; a free-flow of ideas and enumerated instruments sing of death ruling as a vice to mortal struggle. Much like the wonderful closer, I Am The Stone That Weighs Down The Earth is, as the artist puts it, a definite “place where the dead outnumber the living.”
Throughout The Totemist, there is nothing forced or out-of-touch — only the flow of waking states set in a dream. Ak’chamel, The Ecstatic Brotherhood of Nux Vomica did more than amazing, executing a myriad of wonderful emotion’s and sounds from mellifluous and dissonant sound-sources, that each orchestrated power.