Our Song of the Day is from the inventive and mind-blowing Akron/Family who we’re keen fans of. The track Sand Talk will wake anyone out of a slumber…not for your office coffee break…more a glorious rampage across the desks…
It features on their latest album Sub Verses which was released on Dead Oceans in April this year. The video for the track was directed by Los Angeles conceptual artist Ali Beletic, you may want to read about its making before you watch:
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
About the Video:
The Sand Talk video includes footage from a headlight happening we had in LA in July. In late June Ali and I came up with the idea for an Akron/Family happening for the song “Sand Talk.” The idea was to choreograph a multi-part headlight performance to the song that would be conducted by myself, Miles, and Dana.
I composed a 3-part contrapuntal headlight piece, with the headlights playing off of various rhythms in the song, some sections with soli headlights from all groups and individual soloists cued by the section leaders, and others with lights moving freely around in circles or lines depending on the placement of vehicles. On Thursday July 11th we had volunteers meet at 9pm at the Vons parking lot in Echo Park.
We had to figure out how to get everyone to hear the song synced up with out playing it loud over a PA which we thought would get us kicked out or arrested in today’s conservative environment and came up with the idea of broadcasting the song over FM into every car. Of course we then found out that long range stereo fm broadcasting equipment is illegal, and spent hours the day before the event searching down some pirate station to borrow one from. At the last minute on the day of the event a pirate radio enthusiast from outside Bakersfield helped me find a man in out in the desert east of LA who sold them out of his house and Miles drove out there to pick it up.
Everyone met at Vons that night near the taco truck. Israel from Man is the Bastard hooked us up with his friend Richard who used to have a transmitter via a station out of Berkley CA who helped us set up. We tested the radio equipment with Muddy Waters and the broadcast easily reached the edges of the parking lot.
As people started to show up we slowly took over the NE corner of the parking lot dividing into 3 groups of cars. Miles, Dana and I went over the scores and parts with people. We would be conducting them with 2.5 million candle power spot lights.
In order for us to hear the song everyone had to turn their radios up as loud as possible, and once we started their cars turned into blinding blasting music boxes, rows of smiling people flickering their headlights on and off equal parts coordination and ridiculous light spasms. If you stuck your head in the car it was a disorienting array of colors and blinding lights shooting through dirty windshields and refracting into myriad colors, seeming to blend with the music so distorted it too started to fray and become one with the blinding colored lights.
We did three performances of it in the Vons lot, with a growing audience of Vons shoppers and Taco Zone eaters confused and delighted, asking “is this legal?” Feeling rehearsed and ready for full dark we caravanned up to the top of a mountain in Glendale that one of the volunteers knew was left unlocked at night where it would be totally dark and performed it again up there in both a circle and straight line formation. This was truly the highlight of the whole night. In the darkness on top of the edge of the city, it was like some sort of psychedelic hip hop video happening. Sunglassed smiling faces behind flickering windshields, blinding and being blinded, blasting radios and headlights into the night, and no one got arrested.