Space, The Final Frontier
The four members of Akron/Family (Seth Olinsky, Miles Seaton, Dana Janssen and Ryan Vanderhoof) are back, this time with a space-age rumination on life, love and spirituality. This interstellar voyage entitled Meek Warrior is a short venture through rambunctious free jazz and beautiful near-folk ballads.Akron/Family begins the journey on a turbulent note. The cacophonous “Blessing Force” rushes by like a meteor shower, pausing only for a brief group chorus of “Blessing force / the blessing force” before scattering back into an onslaught of improvisational drums and guitar. Once the frantic rhythms and rollicking saxophones pass by, the pleasant jumping-acoustic melody of “Gone Beyond” sets a peaceful mood. The group sings, “Gone, gone, gone beyond / gone completely beyond” repeatedly before transitioning through the folk strumming of the title track, “Meek Warrior,” into the choral rendering of “No Space in this Realm.” It’s a nocturne as beautiful as a quiet night spent stargazing on a hilltop; gentle percussion and brass descend into a subtle drone as the track concludes.
The subdued, acoustic “Lightning Bolt of Compassion” continues the floating ease of the prior three songs with comforting vocals and stunning patience. Akron/Family then abruptly shifts gears, as the bounding, noisy “The Rider (Dolphin Song)” warps by, almost as if the meteor shower is returning for a gallop of thick bass and congealed vocals.
The last song, “Love and Space,” wraps Meek Warrior up with a feeling of endless spatial room. The band sets rhythm singing, “love and space” over and over as the vocal lead states, “Lord, open my heart / Lord, bring me near / Lord, open my heart / Lord, make it into a mirror / to reflect the myriad colored lights of / love and space.” A refrain that is achingly beautiful in its vulnerability, enough so to transcend piety and standard nomenclature. If everyone isn’t talking about Akron/Family, they should be.