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Prog-rock quartet AKU busts heads with 'Brain Grease' single

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The instrumental four-piece AKU can best be described as an experiment of multigenre madness. Despite having released only three singles, the prodigious Rochester group has already molded its sound and reach. AKU is named for the cartoon demon that battles Samurai Jack in the animated TV series of the same name. The moniker makes perfect sense, considering the fictional villain’s shape-shifting ability and the band's similarly diverse musical influences.

In May, the outfit released its third single, “Brain Grease,” from the upcoming album, “Solipsism.” The newest track draws from strengths of the band’s sonically varied members. There are the sounds of Animals as Leaders and jazz fusion invoked by guitarist Sage Genovese, the groove-based hardcore heard in the bass tones of Ian Fait, and a flurry of solid yet decorative percussion from drummer Marco Cirigliano. The color of the track itself comes from former keyboardist Dan Murphy, whose writing contribution is the driving force behind the track.


“Brain Grease” is somehow as heady and sly as the name suggests. The song begins with a proggy jolt, before quickly giving way to the sort of soft-pocket groove you would expect to hear on a Surprise Chef song. The subtle precision of Cirigliano’s drumwork seems to almost float on top of Fait’s bass line, giving listeners just enough time to appreciate this rhythm section before a lead line from Genovese. The melody introduces a wonderful sense of lift, and even the quietest parts of this track maintain intensity.

AKU’s technical proficiency never gets in the way of the actual music and for all that’s going on, these textures work in concert with one another. Fait also functions as the band’s audio engineer, which is a clear asset to the group. Even instruments occupying a similar range sound fairly distinct from one another.

Though not yet prolific, AKU is one to watch out for. The genre-bending quartet will be playing live at Photo City Music Hall on August 14, with Alex Fortier on keys and new music in the works. With time, they have every tool necessary to spearhead a resurgence of prog-metal in Rochester.

Marc Gabriel is a freelance writer for CITY. Feedback on this article can be directed to dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.