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Album Review

Takashi Wada's second album is a gently cinematic electronic effort that suggests a somewhat logical endpoint of laptop IDM meeting with elegant mood music: it's not unique in and of itself but it shows how readily the harsher roots of a sound can be sublimated into an earlier tradition to create something equally appealing. The crisp, sometimes hyperactive beats through Araki are kept low enough in the mix to be more of a skittering shade to the songs while lead instrumentation consists of a more traditional variety, especially in comparison to Wada's earlier album, Meguro. "Araki's Dream" is a good example of this, with piano and trumpet taking the lead in a way that suggests everything from Chet Baker to Harold Budd while brisk drum hits and the slightest suggestion of glitch keep the pace going in the background. Some songs, like "The Old Man Looks at the Window" have a more smoothly flowing disco beat approach that works in the vein of acts like Saint Etienne or Color Filter; "To Dance with the White Dog" even busts out some perfect chicken scratch guitar, while towards the end it turns into a synth/beat approach that's in the purest Field Mice-in-New Order worshipping mode. When Wada removes the beats entirely, the results are enjoyable enough, as on "Lost Land," but less distinct, like a more familiar form of short ambience that is pleasant but passes quickly; on another tip, "Memory of John Astor" plays with a dub beat that's nice but, again, is less involving than it could be, and at almost ten minutes, it's a bit much. Wada deserves credit as well for understated surprises: the stuttering shuffle on "True Connection" some minutes into the song keeps it from ending on the smoothly flowing note it's otherwise established.

Araki, Takashi Wada
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