Review: Matthew Akers – Tough to Kill


(Vinyl LP, Retrograde Tapes, 2012)

Detroit past-digging musical visionary Matthew Akers proudly boasts the fact that he creates all the music by himself and on HARDWARE synthesizers, not the computer-based ones. He also prefers the analog formats over the digital ones, this time stepping up to the vinyl game with his first slab of wax, released together by two labels: the Chicago based urban decay label Retrograde Tapes (responsible for some truly murky and hash dystopian noise tapes) and the Cleveland raw analog-synth imprint Cylindrical Habitat Modules. Akers himself points us toward the right direction with his liner notes: this is the bomb for the fans of old krautrock pioneers and old sci-fi/horrorized/action flick soundtracks. Especially the 80’s ones.

The opening suites don’t stray from the area M. Akers has us listeners used to: deeply cinematic synth lines mingle with a plodding, sinister drones which paint the dystopian, hazy skylines and cracked, dirty sidewalks normal people don’t dare to walk after dusk. Despite the title and the obvious hints to classic works of action cinema, not all music here is dark and gloomy. Some of the pieces are extremely club-friendly (even the scum need some fun!), especially the technoid bliss of “Sorority Row” and the almost outright cheesy krautrocky synth pop of “Night Drive II”. What also is worth noting on “Tough to Kill” is the quality of production and execution of the tracks – despite harkening back to the movies usually steeped in VHS distortion, the songs here are clear and crisp, the compositions are tight – compare this album to the rather sloppy “Future Barbarians” and you’ll understand what I mean.

“Tough to Kill” is a thoroughly enjoyable and varied album which might be just waiting for some young amateur (or professional?) filmmaker to snatch a few songs from and use in a great, nostalgia fueled action flick. And whether it would be in the cinema, or just uploaded to YouTube, the songs of M. Akers are sure to add a lot of atmosphere to those nonexistant (yet) movies.


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