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Tetuzi Akiyama

The Ancient Balance to Control Death

(Western Vinyl; US: 27 May 2008; UK: 26 May 2008)

In just 15 minutes and over seven short compositions, Japanese avant-garde experimentalist Tetuzi Akiyama will either convince you he’s some sort of prophetic genius, or have you wondering who decides gives this guy money to make records. Though his music’s in no way accessible, he doesn’t deserve the latter dismissal. Akiyama’s even more skeletal than other improvisational groups like Maher Shalal Hash Baz, to the extent that more than a few of these tracks sound like sketches. At the same time that you wish for the ideas to be ordered and presented properly, you understand this music’s not interested in neat ends – its soul lies in the messy disintegration, the harsh juxtaposition of clashing, atonal guitar and vocal lines, and the purposefully lisped words. Don’t expect to find any easy meaning there, either. A sample: “Something from this moment call him bedside, vision including / The others suddenly appeared discovered, inside bleeding”. The best material comes at EP’s end – “Something From This Moment” is the closest to an actual song, its phrasing uncovers a brittle beauty through atonal guitar and mismatched vocals. The closing track, “It Shall Not Be Your Tremble”, is more fully realized, and the effort pays off: adding maracas and harmonica to the de-tuned guitar, you glimpse something of the noble intent behind this weird, loose music.

Rating:

Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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