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Akufen - My Way

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Artist: Akufen

Album: My Way

Label: Force Inc.

Review date: May. 23, 2002

I don’t care if I sound like an infomercial for The Golden Hits of Yesterday. I’ll say it: The Best Music in the World is timeless. The Best Music in the World sounds more like the emotions and imagination of the musician than the era in which it was produced. Feelings last; trends don’t.

Akufen’s My Way may never be on television at 2:00 in the morning while the song titles and artist name scrolls down the screen in yellow letters, perhaps between "Only the Lonely" and "Tears on My Pillow." All the same, this is a timeless album, and I feel perfectly confident in that declaration.

My Way emanates funk in all the best ways. Deep grooves evoke familiar genres like house and disco, but the components are all new. Marc Leclair (Akufen’s alter-ego) uses truly weird sounds, taken from quite possibly the weirdest sonic mine in the universe — the distant and seemingly inhuman world of radio broadcasts. This strangeness is doubly compounded by the fact that the transmissions were received in a sparsely populated part of Northern Canada. That this area is so remote lends an air of otherwordliness to the whole effort. Akufen then blended the “found” sounds together, creating collages from cheesy vocalists, soft rock guitar licks, inane organ sounds, and whatever else his shortwave radio picked up.

Listening to this kind of radio gives me nightmares, and I suspect Marc Leclair feels the same way. Such programming seems so far removed from reality. The idea of reconstituting the basic elements of such a bizarre phenomenon into an essentially groovy product was, perhaps, a long time in coming. What makes AM radio so sterile, so numb, and so depressing, Akufen rotates and modulates into a vibrant dance record. In some sense, then, My Way is specific to the present time. Commenting on the current state of bland commercial radio, Akufen produces a novel and thoroughly danceable gem out of what was previously worthless.

Samples are the lifeblood of nearly every song on the album. On certain tracks, like “Even White Horizons” and “Deck the House,” brief samples are more or less recognizable. Their interaction with one another is the key, which brings artists like Kid606 to mind, though Akufen aligns more closely with house than hip-hop. Each beat on “Deck the House” contains as many as four different samples, arranged in ways that sound completely natural. “Wet Floors” works in much the same way, though it has the added dimension of rhythmic edits and turntablisms (live or simulated?). No less impressive are the songs where found sounds are either absent or decimated to the point of being unrecognizable. On “Installation” and “Skidoos,” the clicks and strings will warm up the atmosphere of any room.

And in twenty years, My Way won’t sound dated. Unlike those musicians who willingly sacrifice expression for the siren song of the “right” gear, Akufen lends a personal touch to his compositions. My Way is the kind of album you’ll still want to grab off the shelf for years to come.

By Ben Tausig

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