When it happens to speak about Texas and Music obviously it’s not possible to avoid to think about how since a couple years Texas became an important pole for what concerns experimental music and the DIY culture. Among the main projects we can name just my all time favorites Indian Jewelry, Sun Araw (now based in San Francisco), B L A C K I E All caps, With spaces and many others who made, along with events like the Levitation (formerly Austin Psych Fest) and SXSW, Texas a notable point of interest for pulsating unique cases of new music.
Speaking about unique cases and internet professional digging, it can happen to miss, among the main projects of the texas scene, Ak’Chamel: master and almighty folkdoom givers of illnesses from Houston. Ak’chamel (previously known as Chairs) is a trio interested in the darkest and most hidden shades of ethnic and occult music. It might have happened to you to miss their last cassette: “The Man Who Drank God”; published in the limited edition of 100 copies via Field Hymns – tape label which seems to like all sorts of cool and weird mindbending music from modern synthwave and 8bit music to ambient loops and synthish space trips.
If you really missed this little example of dark folk music on magnetic tape i am sorry for you, but fear not!
Talking about the cassette the band tells us that it could be assimilable to a work by Popol Vuh played through a shortwave radio.
Personally I would say that the eleven tracks that make the cassette for a total of approximately thirty minutes are well represented by this definition while being even more than that.
For certain aspects the tape reminds of albums such as “Spirit of peace” and even more of “Nosferatu (On the Way to a Little Way)” and “Sei still, wisse ich bin”, for the great attention to the vocal harmonies and the use of acoustic instruments played continuously in an hypnotic and circular way – Kume Pluke, Creation (Ex Nihilo), Dogs of Delhi – and at the same time it could remind the already named Sun Araw in “The Phiynx” without blues and psych rock happy sonorities for the dense and heavy lysergic ambiences (Hungry ghosts).
Moreover The Man Who Drank God develops admirably an ensemble of atmospheres that fit perfectly with Ak’Chamel’s aesthetic which is right in between Master Musicians of Bukkake and True Detective’s satanic-pagan symbology. The music ambience recalls stuff as Father Murphy (He who swallowed the universe, Tlaloc full of sores), Death in June (Rainmaking, There is no cure) and all of this make also the cassette seem a work that could have been released on the beloved Hairy Spider Legs or a stretched and sad version of Caroliner (I take nothing, Jaguar and the basket).
Another very interesting point is how (both for the cassette and for the digital format) the tracks were recorded, mixed and mastered: there’s no doubt that after the first experiments, in which the trio put together songs of which the recording choices were much different one to another, the group chose the warm sound of the mediums of the cassette format that seems to be part of the whole project and that makes the album sound like a witness on tape of an ancient world full of sadness, suffering and darkness, a culture of another dimension whose lost populations expressed in their cultic chants the weight of every single moment that from birth leads to death.
To conclude I would like to say that with this release the guys know their business. They are making continuous progresses without forsaking their main muddy and slimey way through a dangerous and deep bayou full of unknown and malevolent creatures that they wanted to follow in their firsts albums. The tape is of course not an absolute masterpiece and I would not say that the variety is one of its advantages (thing that would have made the work more longevous) but this sure is definitively a strong step ahead thanks to its totally personal touch that the band already had and that now is achieved even more thanks to a full knowledge of their capacities and talents that sure stand out more than in the previous works.
With “The Man Who Drank God” Ak’Chamel obtain a coherent and more concrete form and with their sound right in between black metal, turkish music and religious choirs they show themselves as one of the most important experiences of Texan music, widening its meaning.
“The Man Who Drank God” is incontrovertibly one of the most interesting cassettes that I listened to this year.
When it comes to talk about surfing black magic and to officiate obscure pagan rites in the swamps consumed by otherworldly music, unknown drugs consumption and incomprehensible formulas to offer to the elders Ak’Chamel definitively knows his shit and in the future will not do anything else that continue to study in deep this abysses.