[sic] Magazine

Ak’chamel – Lowlands Of Hteklum

Only the intrepid need seek out the Lowlands Of Hteklum. The Ak’chamel trio call Houston home but these are children of the world and, during Lowlands‘ course, they take linear kraut-psyche on the trip of its life via traditional Thai and African folk, as well as the indigenous grooves of the Maya. The stunning title track, for example, tours the dynamic Amerindian chants and percussion of the Tzotzil people, coming on like A Mountain Of One holding a Gregorian séance. In turn, the atmospheric “Yahval Balamil” tells of their rain god through throat-sung whispers and fireside drone and, as the peyote takes hold, chilly Spanish guitar gives way to a crushing plugged-in crescendo.

On the other side of world, “Ghosts Of Phi Am” sees its malevolent sleep spirits ride some Morricone surf over scrambled radio chatter, the track unravelling into a chin-stroking cosmic odyssey replete with wild wah wah solos. The rickety “Sumatran Sunset” on the other hand gets its business done with misty pipes and childlike SE Asian vocals, smearing the kitchen-sink exotica of tUnE-yArDs out into a kaleidoscopic finger painting.

Leaving no stone unturned, no dial unmolested in their pursuit of sonic exploration, “Terror Birds Of Kelenken” thumbs out deep bass throbs behind an impressive board of effects, its grip tightening until you’re full immersed and have forgotten to breathe – a suffocating tactic no doubt as terrifying as an encounter with the titular apex predator. The equalizer troubling “Death Is Swallowed In Victory” then runs with this sense of claustrophobia, cut-and-paste melody forever on the tip of its droning tongue.

When you finally reach album closer “Multicolored Candle Ritual” it comes on like a finishing move, its dirgey plod and crazed howling not unlike parts of Swans’ recent To Be Kind, spun out in this case to magnetic effect with blurring psychedelia. Think long and hard before that visa application. The Lowlands Of Hteklum are more than a destination; they’re a state of mind.

Best tracks: “Lowlands Of Hteklum” and “Yahval Balamil”

~Lowlands Of Hteklum is out now on Moon Glyph.~