Welcome to the first National AK/DK Day! Well, okay that’s not strictly true but, in my mind, an AK/DK release is worthy of an environmentally friendly ticker-tape parade complete with blimps and fireworks. AK/DK are a band consisting of two powerhouse drummers who also operate a NASA command centre of equipment with which to exhort, cajole and ignite a case of electronic nitro glycerine, both on record and live. If you have read any of my reviews (‘Shared Particles’, ‘Feeds’ or live) you will know that I believe that the power they produce could solve the global energy crisis. The side-effect would be an outbreak of global euphoria with Doctors and Therapists alike prescribing their electro-organic music to bring peace to our troubled world.
Confidence abounds in the digital grooves of Shared Particles and ‘Feeds’ opens the album with a siren sound from AK/DK’s own emergency broadcast system; a warning to head straight to our Fallout Dancefloor and prepare for the incoming beats. Sawtooth synthesisers pulse while drums and voice unite in staccato punctuation. Hot springs of riotous syncopated beats jet around us on ‘Wait’ and the title track, ‘Shared Particles’, is a rocket ship hurtling through space buffeted by solar winds, weaving through asteroid belts and full of “motorik flare, squealing synths, and psychedelic overtones”. It’s a song that seems to say despite our earthbound disagreements we are all made of the same particles and we should celebrate our similarities not our differences.
On and on through the album and AK/DK lavish upon us enough beats and electronic treats to keep a dopamine factory working 24/7: the drag racing ‘Return to Zero’, flashes of Kraftwerk’s epic vistas in ‘Data Beach’, the old school Simon-Says-meets-Eastern-bazaar vibe of ‘Casio Beguine’, a new dawn PIL sunrise from ‘Kosmische #1’, 80s arcade game meets explosive chorus in ‘Heliotrap’ and the prowling menace of ‘Hot Mist’. The final three tracks offer a workout and a warm down. ‘Astroturf’ could be the sister track of ‘Shared Particles’, ‘Defragment to Survive’ has a ping pong vocal which gives way to an colossal second half drenched in flamboyant drums and urgent vocals which swirl around each other threatening to tear the fabric of the song apart. Good thing we have the gently arpeggiated sci-fi warmth of ‘Draggin’’ to help us float gently back to Earth.
AK/DK are a benign Tetsuo: The Iron Man: men, drums and machines entangled at a quantum level and heaven bent on leaving a trail of joy and powerful beats behind them. In the same way that AC/DC are 4-on-the-floor rock giants, AK/DK are 4-on-the-floor masters of motorik beats and their electro-organic sound. Looking back at the previous albums Synths + Drums + Noise + Space and Patterns/Harmonics, both have an amazing hit rate of killer/no-filler but these were the laboratory where ED & G have been experimenting, tweaking and perfecting their sound. They use the power of circuits and double acoustic drums like a Faraday Cage in which to capture the crackling optimism of their music. Arpeggios fly like birds, swooping and diving, synth-bass rattles fillings and musical hooks pull you towards the dancefloor. I’m all for artists holding up a mirror to society and venting their anger and frustration but there’s a time to rant and a time to rave and AK/DK bring a shining vision of the future to their work. They are the pot of gold at the end of the electronic rainbow. So, I wish you a happy ‘AK/DK Day’ and hope to see you all at next year’s parade.
Shared Particles is available in physical and digital versions from Bandcamp and good stockists (support small, independent stores if you can).
Review by Paul F Cook