Gig Seeker Pro


Champaign, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013

Champaign, Illinois, United States
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Post-rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Acker - EP 1"

There are four people in a room. There is a light and there are shadows, too. Everything that happens next is almost supernatural in its steely intensity, its grave conviction. ACKER is a group of four people playing instruments together. That’s all that EP 1 is, on the face of it. What they have done with those instruments, however, is quite fantastic, unsettling, stirring, and dark as hell.

Music, popular and otherwise, has a broad range of darkness. There is the kitschy darkness of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, or the earnest and substantial darkness of folk artist Damien Youth. There’s also the explorative darkness of Einsturzende Neubauten and the spirit-decimating darkness of Red Death-era Diamanda Galas.

ACKER, on the other hand, has conjured their own unique darkness, taking the indie-rock intensity of bands like Trans Am with the focus and deliberateness of King Crimson — and an element that I think is, in part, critical to the identity of ACKER: its cello. Or is that viola? (Shit.) I know almost nothing about stringed instruments, except to say I know what I like to hear.

How the cello interfaces with the plain, natural, and small sonic space these instruments inhabit evokes its own aesthetic which is both elegant and raw. The cello sounds like it’s being played by a human being, tracked simply and with whatever feeling was available at the time to the player. The sound of the band, as a whole, is honest and credible. Any liberties taken with the mix, editing, use of effects or otherwise are tasteful and driven at a feeling, not for novelty. For all the careening guitar and washy drums, there’s a solid strategy between each instrument, from one passage to the next.

Throughout this 5-track, 20 minute record, the guitars are tasteful and supportive: there’s no ego. The guitars are accountable to the arrangement, not master of it. They provide support to melody, they swell in unison with the band, and they are played both with deep consideration and ferocity. I don’t usually give a damn about guitars. That being said, I find ACKER’s guitars impressive in that they have made themselves indispensible to each arrangement by serving them with the utmost loyalty. With a sound as nuanced and purposeful as ACKER’s, it would have been all too easy to bulldoze the shit out of certain passages.

However, if you were to judge this band by the first 42 seconds of “Trinidad,” it would be hard to know what to think. The guitar is a little sloppy, the cello a bit pitchy, the drums fighting to establish tempo. This looseness is, as you begin to wade further into the record, part of the feeling and are not a detractor. This is the combined personality of the band; four people who are not going to pretend to be the same person with the same ideas and the same exact sense of timing. And it’s not sloppiness, either. It is what it sounds like: working this feeling out in a room, just us. As the progression continues, and the sound opens up, you will begin to get it. This stuff is beautiful, and articulate – and huge, in it’s own microcosmic way.

By the time you arrive at “Trinidad’s” lull around the minute-thirty mark, the cello plucks out a careful and intriguing sequence. Building the song from that point is a lesson in flying, because at three minutes thirty the track begins to soar. I’m 12 years old, riding my bike through fall leaves, pissed off at someone – wanting some sense of freedom. My feelings are real; the memory is powerful, if fragmented. Whether ACKER meant to or not, they led me there.

“Norilsk” is far more aggressive, and better shows off the progressive abilities of the band. Polyrhythms and mathy-phrases line a path extending into the horizon. Everything is in flux, drums gently ushering the band along one side-street and down another. At three minutes-twenty, a ghostly reverberation of the guitar gathers in the distance, a brief glimpse at something awesome in its scope and effect.

“~” follows, a bit of soundscape on the heels of “Norilsk” and its insistent march forward. It’s a lovely, if cold place to float before diving into the fiery narrative of “The Mid-Atlantic Waste.” Thus far, the band has demonstrated an ability for evoking feelings of fear, sadness, rage, reflection. “Waste” is panic. I see someone lost and confused, thrown this way and that while the circumstances of life supersede individual choice and free will. The guitar “solo” at a minute-thirty is not standard or forced; it feels like a necessary expression of pain – necessary to tell this story, whatever that may be. This band can rock, too. They make a great noise, building a mountain of thrash to two minutes-forty and then expertly reverting to the song’s initial size.

In the end, “Vrangelya” begins appropriately with a solemn and contemplative vibe, bells ringing through a vast darkness; memories trying to break through. There is somewhat of a sonic similarity with King Crimson’s Islands record. I can feel the ocean behind this track and others. Great, sweeping waves and dull, grey skies. This dark and lonely world. Too much time spent in my own head. Regrets brush past, sting like nettles. She and I, waltzing beneath the tress. Suddenly, it’s the three minute-forty-five mark, and I’m pouring over old pages; yellowed leaves falling out of one journal after another onto the dust-coated floor of an abandoned library. Scouring, desperately. Her picture. I can see her face, in my head, but it’s fading. What is that memory? Is it mine or someone else’s? A light. Slowly, my iris expands; I begin to see. The way the song lifts itself and rises up into the sky at the five minute-ten second mark is the most satisfying moment on this record. And it just keeps going, right into the sun, to burn. To extinguish itself.

Instrumental music is dangerous. Without a voice and lyrics, bands run the risk of having their music heard and interpreted in a way that was not intended. This can get out of control: the record can take on a life of it’s own, each note and beat communicating false messages feeding one big lie. People are going to hear this record in their own way, and believe their own lies about. But I love that, really. I love my own experience of this record – what it does to my mind – as much as I enjoy the record itself. ACKER, and it’s four members, will never know of the immense and eternal mental empires they have helped to build.

It makes me mad that this band and this record are not better, or more widely, known. - Unsound America

"Hacking Post-rock"

ACKER are a nonchalant kind of group. Two band members live in CU, two live elsewhere. I interviewed the locally residing guys while video chatting another. They don’t get together in person too often, but when they do, the powerful sounds that arise from their cool demeanors can perk up the ears of even the most jaded post-rock listener.

Instead of building crescendos out of the cold and empty, the band insulates its recordings with a rawness and warmth and keep the tracks at an average of four minutes. At least that’s what ACKER did on its first release, EP 1, which popped up on Bandcamp in August.

Made up of two guitars, a cello and drums, ACKER was described by guitarist Michael Kramer as “Godspeed (You! Black Emperor) for people with shorter attention spans.” But it’s not just the shorter nature of the songs that distinguishes the band in the world of post-rock: It’s the variety contained within the songs. ACKER’s EP goes from a spacy drone to a jazzy segment right into the next beautiful crescendo.

“This genre really involves distinct, planned-out composition,” said cellist Dan Walton. “That’s something that the cello fits very well into or is its traditional role in a classical setting.”

Walton said he played in bands ranging from metal to “psychedelic disco,” but each member brings his own style to ACKER’s music without much overlap. It helps the band diverge from the conventions of post-rock.

“At least for me, I don’t want to work within those constraints,” guitarist Constantin Roman said. “It’s just an effort of bringing in more things to try to avoid that stereotyping.”

Roman said he draws a lot of influence from the early jazz-infused post-rock of Tortoise.

“Those kinds of things are a lot more interesting and have a lot more room for experimentation than seeing who can hold a D chord for the longest time,” he said.

ACKER’s brand of post-rock also brings the genre into a more tactile space. You can hear the instruments being played on the EP — the microphone on Walton’s cello was set up to pick up the scratchiness of his bow. ACKER made the most out of the brief recording session it had, but the band isn’t done testing the limits of what its music can do.

“I think post-rock really does have a lot of space to grow,” Walton said. “A lot of the techniques, a lot of the gestures have gotten worked out, but now it’s possible to use those gestures with other instruments, drawing from other genres.”

More experimentation may come along this December, when the band can get back together and write more songs. For now, ACKER is playing the ones it has all over CU and in Chicago this weekend: Friday at Shadelite Studios (free show, 7 p.m.), Saturday at The Math Lab (8 p.m.) and Monday at Reggie’s in Chicago (7 p.m.). - Buzz Weekly




ACKER is a four-piece instrumental rock band from Champaign, IL. Combining guitars, effects pedals, cello, and percussion, ACKER plays detailed, original pieces that are melodically diverse and rhythmically enticing. The band's songs cycle through dynamic extremes, from ethereal lows to crushing highs, but do not overstay their welcome. In traditional punk fashion, ACKER songs are short and direct, clocking in at around 4 1/2 minutes each.

The group formed in late 2012 while its members were attending the University of Illinois. Joined by a mutual interest in writing diverse instrumental music, the four began practicing in Jeremy's dimly lit basement (accompanied by beer-fueled postmodern philosophizing on his porch). By summer 2013, their work had yielded a set of songs and a band name taken from that of feminist author Kathy Acker. In August, the band released their first album, the aptly titled EP 1. Recorded over a frantic three-day period in July, the album illustrated the band's penchant for intricate songwriting and dynamic extremes.

ACKER has played to a packed house at Reggie's Music Joint in Chicago and has headlined shows at Mike n Molly's and Error Records in Champaign, IL. The group has recorded several videos with Urbana Basement Sessions, which are currently awaiting release. ACKER has been featured on an in-studio session with WESN, as well as at the station's yearly Far Left Fest. The band is currently hard at work on its first LP and is booking a feature tour for summer 2014.

Band Members