Attack of the Deranged Urban Planners
AAAK (As Able As Kane)
Available from – www.aaak.co.uk on the merchandise page…..
The first real “new” music by AAAK since 1991 – 2010’s “The Collection” was more of a historical review (albeit updated somewhat). The core of the band is still Ding and Paul – this time however Tamsin adds vocal colouration and Neil R (from The Words) adds guitar texture. Guest appearances from the Kin band – Howard Jones and Kim F also add something a little more to the mix.
The album was recorded in 2011 where the consequences of some urban planning was having a serious impact on the quality of life outside 6dB studios – as evidenced by the cover which brings a Sci-Fi feel to the “regeneration” of Chapel Street (pretty sure that’s the Mole from Thunderbirds). I’ll say no more about the regeneration issue other than this appears to added a layer of ferocity to the tunes which might not have been there previously.
If you know the band then you will refer to “building-scape beats” rather than “electronic body music” – and you will know about massive bass riffs, insistent percussion and more arpeggiators than you can shake a stick at.
There is at the heart of this second album though, a more melodic approach than hitherto. Don’t get me wrong – it’s in your face, unrelenting and noisy, but there is an undercurrent of overlapping melodic intent that lifts this above the usual electronica that we get these days. That is retains that essentially gritty sound is vital though to the overall enjoyment. I don’t think Paul’s voice has sounded better than on this – add Tamsin to the soundscape and you have a definitive “Urban Salford” sound for the second decade of the 21st Century. Ding conjurs any number of sounds from his variety of synths, boxes etc which defy description – clever stuff.
I’ve had preview tracks from this over the last few months and each one has proved to be excellent. The whole package is more than the sum of its parts and the variety of material creates a complete listening experience. The use of “real” drums on four of the tracks adds a specific dynamism which brings a bit more “funky” into the rhythmic structure and if you aren’t dancing to this then there is something wrong with you. If you aren’t joining on the chorus of “Out Here” then you’ve got no soul baby. Neil’s guitar adds a rock element to the sound which shifts the sound into something rather unique.
It’s not all high tempo mind you – a particular favourite of mine is the stunning “Re-generate” featuring the husky tones of Kim from Kin. At the start it’s intense, moody and utterly captivating whilst also being damn sexy. In part two it gets jazzy, and spacey and gloriously anthemic. If the new elected Mayor of Salford wants a new official tune for the City of Salford then this ought to be it.
All in all an essential album for your 2012 collection – this band deserves a wider audience, become part of it!