Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free
The latest from these music-Magellans has a heady agenda: Using song topographically to chart universes personal and cosmic. Like yesteryear’s mapmakers, what A/F documents is both real and fantastical: “Ge-o-me-try of self!” the Family chants as “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon” erupts in ego-eradicating psychedelia, just moments after “River” has engulfed us Tao-like in gentle Ali Farka Toure guitar and then snare-marched us out to sea with playful vocal interplay. A/F now functions as trio rather than quartet, but the palette expands as the collective vision coheres and everything they discover here glistens like new worlds. Whether they re-imagine American Beauty Dead (“Set ‘Em Free”), marry free jazz and punk (“MBF”), go full-funk (“Everyone is Guilty”), or out-tribal Animal Collective (“They Will Appear”), they sing in awe at having mapped the musical contours of the heart, even as it explodes: “Atoms splinter sparkling/Alive in nimble symmetry/And all along this glistening/Blankets we and everything.” We, too, are discovered anew.