The third album by In Tall Buildings, the project of Chicago songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Erik Hall, Akinetic delivers further on the allure of his prior LPs. With even richer textures, it's an immersive sound that brings to mind bands like Talk Talk and the War on Drugs while remaining just as distinct. Unlike those bands, and with the exception of a clarinet solo on his self-titled debut, Hall performed and home-recorded every element of his first two albums himself. On Akinetic, he still handled nearly all of the performances, but brought in Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine) to produce and co-record at his home. Together, they loosely weave distorted rhythm guitar and keyboards into a soundscape that makes those instruments almost indistinguishable from further guitars, drums, and bass under Hall's also-layered vocal harmonies to open "Beginning to Fade." Sounding as if they're all being strummed together, the track establishes the ambition of an album that goes on to alternate between sparer, intimate passages and lush expanses. Throughout, distorted timbres contrast with pure acoustic ones and smoother electronic tones. Particularly conspicuous on the title track, the songs also set irregular rhythms against simple, steady ones. It's all part of a reliably off-balance design, as are wistful melodies and lyrics that seem to long for clarity and connection. Even Akinetic's moderate tempos never feel relaxed, as components remain dreamily at odds and attempts at unison, like on the instrumental "New Moon," fall off pitch. It's Hall's weightiest album yet, distinguished by stretches of un-pristine gorgeousness that only become more impressive with repeat plays.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson