If the jungle was given voice, Ak’chamel has successfully channelled it through their music. Suddenly and irreversibly, it is one of those things that once heard it cannot be unheard. I can see a tribal holy man raising his stick above his head, shaking it, rattling the small bones tied to it (perhaps by thin strips of leather-like material), in a conjuring manor. Perhaps he is the voice that I’m hearing, echoing from beyond the velvety drapery of dark? No, there’s not just one voice, because now I’m hearing a frightening chorus of malevolence rising there.
The easiest and perhaps best example of Ak’chamel’s primitive jungle-like quality can be heard in the album’s second track entitled ‘Underworld Sweat Bath.’ It is a track of many strange sounds. There is a constant squalling in the background with an echoing beat which dances on continuously, creating a humid canvas painted over by swirls of deep green and depthless shadow. Within the seeming chaos, strange and creepy guitar plucking can be heard. To me, it has a distinctly oriental sound (despite the band’s point of origin: Texas). Perhaps this thing they have created here is a window to some primordial jungle that has been cut through time and space for all to hear?
As if from the time of Nine Inch Nails’ purest (and likely drug induced) creativity, Ak’chamel weaves together, whatever it is that they weave, with an artistry rarely heard by myself, and never-ever in the mainstream’s collective ear. This probably can be attributed to the likely common argument: that this cannot even be considered “real music” because it has not been written in a formula better suited for easy radio listening; you won’t be finding a radio single around these parts, that’s for sure…. This attitude is ignorance. Music is kind of like religion these days; the masses hear it one way, and refuse to accept different takes on it. Fans of every genre have their own god, be it the Rap god or Pop god, Country god or Rock god…. Just because your argument is the most popular one, it doesn’t necessarily make it the Truth, eh?
This album, Pus Ch’en (whatever that means), is a tough thing to describe musically. I’d like to think that I could do it, but being I’m not very knowledgeable in this genre, I would be lying if I started telling you things about it in detail. So I humbly refuse. I also think that this album is a dish better served mysterious (pardon my annoying play on an old proverb).
To be honest, I must admit that I was also one of those people (not the religious type) who heard this sort of music and quickly dismissed it as noise pollution, but I can now say that my musical tastes have grown with age. One of my brothers used to show me this sort of music in my late teens, and I couldn’t stand it. I thought he was crazy. How could this be music? I mean, come on, there isn’t even anything to bang my head to! Ugh…thinking back, that attitude of mine kind of makes puke in my mouth, actually.
Nearing my 30’s now, I have changed much through the evolutionary years of young manhood to true manhood. I have discovered that music like this, or sound art, or whatever they are calling it these days, has definite merit. I just wish more people could hear it. Give it time, I guess.
Scribed by: Sean Filkins