Akke Phallus Duo
, March 5th, 2012 08:32
While Akke Phallus Duo's name might not fill you with optimism for its output, summoning up the image of a Die Antwoord affiliate, the pedigree of this group's players most definitely will. Their debut release Terroir/Pissoir is a back-and-forth do-whatever-you-like-to-it collaboration between Chora's Ben Morris and Jon Marshall of The Hunter Gracchus and the Singing Knives label. From the record's twelve minute opening piece 'Futhorcs Meat Contorts' it's clear that Akke Phallus Duo have alchemised the sounds of the free noise, weird/world music and untaught improv underground into an effective and enjoyable mix of abandon and exploration. The track is a fine introductory taste of the record's scope, the way it wraps up tattered tones of aerophone play, the wandering melodies of free jazz, the loose percussion of scrap jangle and a chaotic ratcheting electronic swoon/grind.
From there the record dips, ducks, spurts and delivers a series of perfectly (un)tuned jams that, although recorded between London and Sheffield, sound more like excerpts from a Syrian take on Sun Ra from a 10th generation cassette released on American Tapes. From brief cuts of noise chunter like 'Gut-Macs' to the sound of god is great ghettoblastered from the inside of an elephant on 'Bid'ah', Akke Phallus Duo are still using the familiar language of the underground. There's the preference for lo-fidelity, the affection for the beauty of scratched sound, off-kilter looping and the broken sounding (to a western audience) vocabulary of ethnic or homemade instruments but Akke Phallus Duo have a cut-up sensibility to their selection and construction.
For an underground supposedly brought up on and entrenched in experimentation, much of the scene often finds a bizarre rut and stick with it. It's hard to recall a new outfit with such a natural-sounding experimental aural spread, and one whose music is as successfully enjoyable. Probably the disc's most unidentifiable / enjoyable track is the duelling desert banjos versus clock factory amplifier chaos that is 'Door-Push-Key'.
Repeated patterns flow alongside unrepeatable configurations of wood instrument chime and two-track rendered chaos, the track's bubbling melody coming in and out like the late night sounds of 70s BBC 2 from a bathroom. Further plays don't so much bring a sense of what the fuck is coming next as they do a sense of being thankful (to fuck) that a record is still able to create such a sense of genuine expectation through access to sound instead of blog waffle and broadsheet heavy petting.
While Terroir/Pissoir isn't specifically rooted in the sounds or instrumentation of other cultures any more than it's just about squeezing sounds from broken instruments. The record is a combination of several different (and at one time very disparate) styles of music and ways of working. It feels like Akke Phallus Duo are another in the series of links in spaces between the pop/avant garde dichotomy of world music and the improv journey.