Sometimes, the best music can come from the most unexpected of places. Such is the case with the album Acme Power Transmission from Aurelio Valle. Valle, also the frontman of the Brooklyn based indie rock stalwarts Calla, took a break from music for the better part of the last five years, instead opting for a life of motorcycle mechanics and quiet contemplation. Seemingly out of nowhere, Valle returned with Acme Power Transmission, which builds on the foundation laid by Calla, while adding some unexpected twists along the way.
Acme Power Transmission begins with the ethereal hum of “Bruised and Diffused” which envelops the listener with its unyielding pulse. The electronic skittering of “Deadbeat” immediately follows and demands attention, creating an unsettling atmosphere that repeatedly threatens to derail the experience before being lulled back into submission by a damn near hypnotic guitar line. It is exactly the type of song that makes you believe you’ve reached the pinnacle of an album, but again, Valle surprises. The droning bassline of “Superhawk” provides a deep groove that seems almost impossible to ever escape until the song explodes halfway through with a brass section that changes the entire dynamic of the track, and really, the album as a whole. It’s a fantastic example of creative songwriting that draws on many different influences in order to create a sort of newfangled psychedelic drone.
As surprising (and quite frankly…wonderful) as Acme Power Transmission is, it doesn’t truly reach its apex until the second to last song on the album. Sung by Nina Persson of The Cardigans, the haunting “Electraglide” is an absolute masterpiece, both of the album and Valle’s discography as a whole. Persson’s seductive cooing over Valle’s string-tinged electro rock will lodge itself into your brain and the only way to banish it from your thoughts is to repeatedly listen to it until your thirst for its beauty is thoroughly satiated.
After numerous spectacular tracks throughout, it’s difficult to find much at fault with Acme Power Transmission. Even the albums instrumental interludes (for lack of a better description) are intriguing listens, especially the somber, piano-driven soundscape of “Centuries” which too begs for repeated spins in spite of its simplistic nature. Really, the biggest issue with Acme Power Transmission is its length as a whole. Clocking in at a meager nine tracks in length, the album is over before it really hits you what you just experienced. With this album, Aurelio Valle welcomes himself back from relative obscurity and should be in the conversation of the best albums released in 2014. With songs this good, it’s amazing Valle ever left music in the first place.