A short time ago, I got an email from Ak’chamel The Giver of Illness. “Hi, we love what you’re doing at BADD PRESS,” they wrote. “Keep supporting the underground!”
Ak’chamel kindly offered a download code of their new album Death Chants. But when asked to share a bit of their backstory, they demurred: “We shy away from describing our work. We like to think mystery is our greatest weapon, and so we like to keep our processes sacred. We decline interviews and quotes for this reason. I hope that’s cool with you! If so, feel free to get creative and invent your own mythologies.” This was followed by a winking emoji.
Seldom one to turn down an invitation, what follows is my (completely fabricated) mythology of Ak’chamel, The Ecstatic Brotherhood of Anima Mundi.
Turns out the story behind this trio of well-adjusted malcontents and their treatise Death Chants is not unlike a lot of rock and roll mythologies. This one just happens to take place in West Gwillimbury, Ontario. Population 35,000 (ish).
Ak’chamel, a group of three youngsters growing up in the 1990s, were no different than their friends and classmates. They loved Pearl Jam, GWG jeans and rainbow sherbet. They hated school, brown Levis cords and stubby ice cream cones.
More than anything else though, they hated the kids in East Gwillimbury. Population 24,000 (again, ish). They couldn’t imagine how such a small town could produce anything worthwhile.
They expressed this anger through interpretive dance based on the hit Broadway show West Side Story. (Obviously.)
Every night – except Tuesdays and Thursdays when our trio were studying advanced vocal techniques with Ms. Greenputty over on Lemahcka Blvd. – our trio would don their pastel cotton jackets and head down to 3 Scoops Ice Cream on Barrie St. for a large cone and a jig.
Unaware of whether the west-side kids were meant to be Sharks or Jets, they would spend a good deal of time arguing amongst themselves. This led to numerous encounters with local law enforcement and Billy’s mom who worked the night shift at 3 Scoops.
Needless to say, their dancing failed to progress.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and the trio had taken over a shared management position at 3 Scoops. The owner, a Mr. A. Mundi, wasn’t crazy about having them on-staff. But since no-one else in West Gwillimbury was young enough to stay up past 9:30, he felt he had no choice.
It was during work hours that the trio cooked up the whole Death Chants project, as a means of shaming their rivals in East Gwillimbury into coming home and settling the 30-year-old feud once and for all. (I should state for the record here that no-one in or from East Gwillimbury was actually aware there was any animosity to begin with.)
Thus, an album of lo-fi, gothic (ish) dirge was lovingly produced in Ms. Greenputty’s basement. While she’s getting on in years, she agreed to produce in return for vocal-lesson back payments.
Her decision to use a TDK 120-minute oxide cassette for the master was inspired. Reached by land-line telephone, Greenputty explained: “I always associated metal tapes with electro-pop, so the decision was an easy one.”