(New Album Review) Ak’Chamel, The Giver of Illness- Fucking With Spirits

From Texas comes this absolutely strange and haunting bit of ethnomusicology, Ak’Chamel, The Giver of Illness’s new album Fucking With Spirits.

When I had the pleasure of being able to look through some of Ak’Chamel’s promotional photography and bandcamp after receiving their submission, before I had listened to a note I had the impression that I would be listening to something along the lines of Caroliner or Sun City Girls, something like noise punk with an “Ethnographic Forgery” twist. How wrong I was– what a weird and interesting album I have here. The Ak’Chamel project is self-described experimental world music that has its roots in the more droning end of black metal. I only wish this album could have been longer– it clocks in at about 30 minutes. Note to The Giver of Illness, whoever He or She may be: next time don’t hold back your temptation to hit us with marathon low-frequency drones.

Ak’Chamel aren’t too noisy for the most part, though there is some dissonance and harshness in this music and there are some metal jams towards the end. I would say that this music seems firmly rooted in the native culture of the Southwest United States, though it definitely borrows some inspiration in a sort of mystical way from other cultures, perhaps North African.  The ritualistic percussion and low-frequency drones of Fucking With Spirits ebb and flow slowly, a slow-moving desert procession. It’s almost as if there’s a screen thrown over this music, as the album consists mostly of oddly muffled chants and percussion. The production choices Ak’Chamel made for this album add to an overall sense of mystery, almost as if this weird music was recorded at the height of a sandstorm and is reaching us now via pirate radio. This might be an atypical release for Ak’Chamel but it’s a fascinating experiment, a solid attempt at artifact-creation. I look forward to their next effort.

Check out Ak’Chamel’s Bandcamp and Facebook page.

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