, March 11th, 2015 13:46
Paul Thomsen Kirk, aka Akatombo, was last heard guesting on Graham Lewis' excellent All Over album. They share common atmospheres - Kirk's work sometimes feels reminiscent of the sort of hulking, instinct post-industrial noise Lewis generated with ex-Wire comrade Bruce Gilbert under the banner of Dome, circa 1980. Akatombo's latest album, his finest to date, is like a revisitation of caverns and complexes that have lain immaculate but neglected since the post-punk era. It has some of the ominous, apocalyptic overtones of a music which often felt terrifying in the sabre-rattling early 80s when nuclear was posited not as a remote possibility, but an imminent probability. 'Stepford Lives' concludes with a grimly hauntological extract from the old 'Protect And Survive' public information films, in which we were advised in the event of a nuclear attack to crouch under desks or lying low in ditches listening out for the all-clear on our transistor radios. That Akatombo resides in Hiroshima can seem inadvertently apposite, especially when Sometime, Never is dominated by deep bass drones like giant propellers, hovering above opener 'Snark Und Troll' for instance.
And yet, Sometime, Never includes a special thanks to the staff of University Hospital, Hiroshima "for keeping me alive". Kirk has battled serious health problems over the past few years which he has faced down with courage and positive good humour. In that context, Sometime, Never can be understood not as gloomy, morbid electro-melodrama but ultimately an expression of life and energy still abounding, a creative act of defiance, grain and sonic barrage thrown down on the canvas in the here and now.
Recorded over a series of five hour sessions, one per track, Sometime, Never is ideas worked up from CD-R sound sketches, taken wherever they wanted to go once Kirk was in the studio. 'Mission Creep' is a march of thunderous, indistinct timpanis - one thinks of rediscovered footage of the rushes of some abandoned Cecil B De Mille epic about the building of the pyramids. 'Stasiland' features a distorted bass that makes your very bone-marrow judder - it's a heavy weapon that recurs purposefully throughout the album.
'Cold Call' features a terse, looped, muffled metal riff, a techno-metal hybrid reminiscent of early Young Gods. However, rhythmless but hardest-hitting of all is 'Scans And Needles', possibly a sonic recreation of harrowing hospital experiences, in which overhead striplights flicker as consciousness seems to come and go, in which irregular, uncertain clanks suggest surgical procedures. Akatombo has found new strength on Sometime, Never - here's to further chapters to come.