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?
Finally, after over a month of unanswered emails and text messages, blown deadlines, and pleas to finish and turn in their new album, last week, a large brown cardboard box showed up at the Dead Oceans doorstep. It had “SHINJU TNT” scrawled across the bottom of the box in black magic marker, and the return address read only "AK, Detroit." Opening it revealed a sincere but poorly made diorama of futurist swirling spaces filled with toy astronauts and dinosaurs, four blown out song fragments on a TDK CDR in a ziplock bag, three pictures, and a typewritten note from Akron/Family. A post-it on the bag declared the band refused to send the full album to anyone but the vinyl pressing plant, for fear of leaking and possible lost revenues. Akron/Family spent the end of 2009 and half of 2010 exploring the future of sound through Bent Acid Punk Diamond fuzz and Underground Japanese noise cassettes, lower case micro tone poems and emotional Cagean field recordings, rebuilding electronic drums from the 70's and playing them with sticks they carved themselves. Upon miraculous resuscitation of the original AKAK hard drive, the album layers thousands of minute imperceptible samples of their first recordings with fuzzed-out representations of their present beings to induce pleasant emotional feeling states and many momentary transcendent inspirations. This album is titled S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. We have no idea what that means.
“River” is the second single from Akron/Family’s 2009 release, Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. Following the thundering and anthemic “Everyone is Guilty,” “River” returns to something they have always been known for: a timeless hook. “River” delivers Ali Farka Toure-like guitar work, but this song is all about the infectious vocal melody. Like the “Everyone is Guilty” 7-inch, “River” features an exclusive non-album b-side, the lovely “Morning on Michigan Avenue (Thinking of Old Friends).” Strictly limited edition, we advise scoring one of these slabs of vinyl now.
Opening with a groove unlike anything Akron/Family have ever laid to tape, the first track on Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free kicks off a new chapter for the band. The percussive thunder and anthemic electric guitars of “Everyone is Guilty” make a bold statement, touching on everything from Fela Kuti to Sly and the Family Stone in under six psychedelic minutes. This is not the Akron/Family you think you know.As “Everyone is Guilty” fades into “River” the band returns to something they have always been known for: writing a timeless hook. “River” delivers Ali Farka Toure-like guitar work, but this song is all about the infectious vocal melody. As the album unfolds, Akron/Family’s musical explorations are virtually without limits. Whether it’s the celebratory sing-along gospel of “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon,” the lush folk sounds of “Sun Will Shine (Warmth of the Sunship Version),” or “MBF,” which lies at the intersection of primal punk rock and heavy free jazz, Akron/Family are a band boiling over with ideas. Their musical vocabulary runs deep – it’s not just Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and the Grateful Dead that inform Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. Akron/Family feel at home on this album, confident and self-assured. Following a year of making things bigger and wilder live, the band returns to something simpler on Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. With limited outside assistance, this trio has made a focused, powerful and unified work. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free maintains the communal spirit of the big band that won audiences over throughout the world, but it showcases Akron/Family at its core – three musicians, equals, creating music from deep within. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is something undeniably special and immensely powerful. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is the new psychedelic rock.