» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Mitchell Akiyama
Small Explosions That Are Yours To Keep
Sub Rosa Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

June 2, 2005
Austere breathing noises on a trumpet without a mouthpiece emit sharp hissing sounds that straddle a coarse wheeze from the scratchy throat of a violin and jitterbugging electronics. Such sounds denote the onset of Small Explosions That Are Yours To Keep, the fourth effort from Montreal native Akiyama and follow-up to the well received If Night Is A Weed And Day Grows Less. In the vein of his previous release, these compositions amplify an array of organic instruments, from piano to glockenspiel and strings, to highlight microscopic events taking place in and around the players. These densely layered electronic tones, rasping trumpet motifs and crackling obtained by rubbing magnets against contact mics are woven into stark, strangely emotional moments that seek to merge modern composition with experimental techniques of production.

At the heart of many of Akiyama's pieces is an enveloping, radiant drone which the composer subjects to extreme processing, forcing its edges to fray into a soft fizz of digital interference on "But Promise Me" and "Your Distance Kept" or sharpening angles and edges until it takes on a more menacing form, as on "Through Fall And Flicker". As such, Akiyama's work is spacious and alluring without lapsing into blessed-out blandness, the roughness of its surfaces complementing rather than compromising its supple core. From whichever standpoint one approaches this work, pieces are structured in and develop along unusual ways, often to the point of seeming purposefully anticlimactic or, at the very least, counterintuitive.

Noteworthy is the Eastern patter of percussion found on the composed calm of the title track. In a reference to Arve Henrikkson, breathy trumpet spirals around thick, plodding bells. Gradually, the piece segues into darker, more anxious realms by distilling a low frequency rhythmic rumble from the electronic detritus left over from Akiyama's processing, strafing it with metallic tones and gurgling oscillations. "With Her Shadow Cast In Doubt" furthers the image fostered by this record of walking alone at night along the water-side, as gently lapping waves catch shafts of moonlight and reflect them in ever-changing shapes and sizes. The piece is touchingly direct, building its textures by way of simple superimposition rather than complex processing. After multi-layered strings recede into the shadows of recorded voices, sustained saxophone tones are layered into a subtly shifting minor sixth drone, accompanied by tiny flurries of percussion, Spanish guitar and delicate metallic ricochets.

As the album passes away, Akiyama's attentive manner and concern in the raising of these diverse sounds is left as an indelible mark. Compositions bear the look of those vegetable gardens whose novel, ripe appearance speaks to their creator's fortitude and for which one can't help but smile upon passing. The deft patience and skill in the arrangement of a variety of techniques, exhibits a marked improvement from Akiyama's previous efforts, which often seemed to drown in manipulation. Throughout, Akiyama harvests multiple tones and resonances from an arrangement of solitary sounds to engrossing effect. In his incorporation of organic and artificial sound sources, he blurs the distinction between live and prerecorded, raw and untreated, in much the same manner as the beautiful packaging: adorned with images of plants so animated one imagines they might be picked off the page; it toys with the ambiguity of reality and fiction.

Reviewed by Max Schaefer
Nocturnal qualms and eyes that brim like lamps betoken slender sketches, poetry and short stories strewn alongside piano playing, a fiddling of knobs and murmured dialogue with a medley of electronic gizmo\'s. A twenty-one year old person lodged within the University of Victoria, Max harvests organic sounds on a sullen sampler, watching water unwind like two broad lengths of ribbon and nursing a book below the canopy of a cheery-tree. Max believes that the world is made present by people\'s presence in it and that art is one such way in which a distinctive disclosure might be crafted.

See other reviews by Max Schaefer



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