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Hope That Lines Don't Cross

Mitchell Akiyama
Hope That Lines Don't Cross

There was a period of time when I was in college that I didn't have a stereo in my car at all. During this stretch, I once made a 5 hour drive home, lacking on sleep and for a good deal of the way just trying to keep myself awake. One of the games that I came up with on the journey was to create music based on different elements that I could hear and see. The hum of the engine became a steady drone in the background, while I started tapping my hand on the dash in time to passing telephone poles by the interstate. Every once in awhile the antenna on my car would wiggle around, a car would pass and add another element. After almost an hour of playing this game, my ears became so hypersensitive to perceptible noises that I started picking things apart even further in my drowsy state.

Listening to minimal electronic music like Mitchell Akiyama is sort of the same way. At first it seems like there are only a couple elements in the mix, a rhythm and melody perhaps. Like Vladislav Delay and other artists with similar styles, though, it's the subtlety that counts, and different drones, clicks, and sounds weave in and out, creating music that is good to listen to in the background (for its simplicity), yet reveals other ideas upon closer inspection.

Hope That Lines Don't Cross is the debut album by Akiyama, and one of the first releases on the Subtractif label (a sub-label of Alien8Recordings which will focus on electronic music), and seems pretty far removed from what you'd expect a person with a jazz background to be creating. The release opens with "Palindrone.1," and although it's even more stripped-down than most of the other tracks on the disc (moving along with only a fluttering drone and some layers of clicky beats), it gives you a good idea of whats to come. "Resists Change Nicely" cranks up the rhythm track into something much more complex and rumbling, but offsets things with some lush, warm keyboard tones (and all kinds of gurgling and scraping in the background).

The release really gets going at about its midpoint, though, with "Error Than Trial" layering on scattered elements to create sort of an uneasy feel, before finally overwhelming everything with a drone that had been lurking in the background. "Palindrone.2" sounds like a slightly less dense track by Gas, as it rumbles along with a high bpm in the forefront while plenty of elements play out in the background. One of the best tracks on the entire disc is "Interpretation.Deflection.Master." in which a field recording of some church bells and city scenes provide the backdrop to a lovely click-hop track with an almost hummable melody.

The disc closes out with "The Height Of The Matter," in which layers of drones start out the track before a beat soon drifts in. Eventually, the drones gain in their loudness, and completely envelope everything else, as things fade out to silence. For a debut album, it's a good mixture of sounds that still manage to fall under an umbrella of slightly dark, minimal electronic music. If you enjoy artists like those mentioned above, or the Mille Plateaux label, it's definitely something to check out.

Rating: 7