Aktor: High Spirits’ Chris Black Strikes Again!
A minute into an unknown album called Paranoia by a weird band called Aktor, it hits you: You recognize that voice. That delivery, so distinct. Lyrics stripped to monosyllables. Got it! That’s the fuckin guy from High Spirits, that offbeat Chicago metal band. Their rad 2014 record You Are Here seemed inspired equally by unadorned trad-metal and by a visit to the museum of inspirational bumper stickers. The shit blows your mind cuz it is awesome, but also because it seems to be the work of a guy (named Chris Black, aka Professor Black) whose goal is to speak really plainly, no ego. It’s not cold or unemotional; it’s more like the snugness of 90 straight 90-degree days. Like a close-up of a single atom or a child prodigy accountant’s poetry. Or a pro supermarket bagger guy arranging your furniture into an impenetrable brick. Fascinating.
High Spirits has stated that recording of a new album starts in April, but let’s get back to Aktor: A dude might click play on their fanfare-free release all unsuspecting, then mark the voice and words as Black’s right away. But more mindfreakage awaits; Black is backed in Aktor by the fancy dude who runs Ektro Records — weirdest roster going, fuck yeah — and his collaborator and bandmate in the avant band Circle (and in their stoner metal project, Pharaoh Overlord). Then you start wondering that, huh, the Circle guys’ half was recorded in Finland with an engineer and Black’s was “alone in Chicago”; so does that mean they didn’t collaborate? One party wrote the music first, then the other added the words and melodies? No consultation? Turned out awesome, super peculiar (duh), kinda like Voivod vs. Bob Welch produced by a sentient mound of PCP. Or Thin Lizzy and The Buggles trapped in a dark European movie about a guy who cums ants. I hope u jam!
Aktor’s weird but cool debut Paranoia came out Tuesday via High Roller. Get it here and here. This is what got the ball rolling.