Most electronic artists have an ear for melody, song structure, rythym, or texture. Some have an ear for two of the three. Very rarely will an electronic ensemble or artist have a seasoned ear for all three. And there you have Akufen -- fresh from Quebec.
Love or leave them, what drives a band like Boards of Canada to such surprising levels of popularity is their knack for melodic arrangements and a good ear for structure. In their more ambient moments, Akufen share this trait with BOC (yeah, Blue Oyster Cult!). But that's about where the similarities end.
I'm rarely one to ever call any album a masterpiece. If it weren't for one minor sticking point, I'd proudly M word all over this one. Here's the one minor sticking point: After the first 3 tracks, they sort of switch genres. That's fine. They transition nicely from a smooth but engaging, beat-driven ambience to something completely new.
Actually, when the Mille Plateaux label released the ground-breaking 'Electric Ladyland: Clickhop Version 1.0' compilation, there was this one track that blew my mind -- when I heard tracks 3 through 8 on this Akufen CD, I thought of it immediately, and sure enough, that track on the Mille Plateaux comp. was Akufen.
It's this amazing, cut-up collage thing, using various one second samples coupled with a strong beat and (occasionally) nice, melodic riffs to carry the pieces (in some cases). The effect is much like turning the dial of a radio tuner kind of fast - only much better. The problem is, they do this for 5 or 6 songs back to back.
Akufen do it a little differently enough on each, and the pieces stand up amazingly well -- but individually, not back to back. They'd work wonders for a DJ or on a mix - even in a club -- but after a 6 or 7 minutes of it, the songs start sounding very similar to each another and it's kind of monotonous.
That said, on their own, each song is like a mini-collage masterpiece. There. I said it.
Favorites: 1, 2, 3, 6,8