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Small Explosions That Are Your's to Keep

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Album Review

Mitchell Akiyama's second album for the Belgian label Sub Rosa is one of his most accomplished efforts and rights all the small annoying wrongs of his previous one, down to the duration. Akiyama's soft, textured sound world demands a certain time for the listener to immerse in it and revel in the ambiguity between acoustics and electronics that is at the core of his art — and the 35 minutes of If Night Is a Weed and Day Grows Legs were insufficient in that regard. In contrast, this album consists of 11 pieces segued into two suites (which would be quite suitable for an LP release). Running from the opener, "Strategies for Combating Invisibility," down to the title track, the first suite is the richest and most dynamic. It also features very diverse instrumentation, from strings (always playing a key role in Akiyama's music) to harmonica, acoustic guitar, banjo, double bass, and handclaps — the latter three being found in particular in the lively "But Promise Me," a clear highlight. The second suite adopts a smoother, more homogeneous form that seems to indicate that the artist is tempted by longer formats. Digital cut-ups, stutters, and deconstructions intervene here and there, at times building bridges between tracks, in other places short-circuiting tunes that are starting to feel too comfortable. Also the crux of Akiyama's work, this delicate yet invasive digital pollution is paradoxical. On the one hand, he is obviously a gifted composer (his naïve melodies are endearing and his arrangements are creative) who could draw a crowd simply by writing acoustic instrumentals. On the other hand, his deconstructions prevent the music from becoming stale or predictable. So is he a subversive artist or a composer who can't recognize his true talent? In any case, Small Explosions That Are Yours to Keep provides a very emotional listen. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A student of video arts, Canadian Mitchell Akiyama began to shift his focus toward music production in the late '90s during his time at university. The result of his laborious process was Intr_verse, a limited-run release he issued himself on his newly established label Intr_version in 1999 (the label would go on to release recordings by several other up-and-coming Canadian producers). After touring around the globe extensively, he released Hope That Lines Don't Cross on the Subtractif label in 2001...
Full Bio

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Small Explosions That Are Your's to Keep, Mitchell Akiyama
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