Akai Ikuo - "Language Without Words"
(Beta-lactam Ring Records 2008, mt153)

From Aural Innovations #40 (September 2008)

I sometimes think down-tempo is just another way of saying, "This album's pretty damn laid back." Akai Ikuo's Language without Words is undeniably laid back. The ten songs here range all across the down-tempo spectrum, including but not limited to chill out, trip hop, glitch, acid jazz, and nu jazz. Of course, there's also some jungle, some trance, some ambient and some neo-psychedelia. As one would expect, Ikuo peppers his often jazz-tinged electronica with lots of bleeps, burps, and farts just to give it some flavor. "Heart Beat" is a prime example of Ikuo's "method" of composition: groovin' bass line, frenetic, syncopated drumming and an arsenal of whirring synth effects that fly like asteroids across the stereo field. Sometimes as soothing as a blue room chillout, other times as frustratingly dynamic as a Miles Davis funk excursion from any of his early 70's albums, Ikuo certainly can't be accused of repeating himself from one song to the next. I have the distinct feeling thought that Language without Words would sound like the Voice of God if you just happened to listen to it while toking on your favorite hookah. This is fusion music, to be sure, but there's a lot of fission going on here as well, as if Ikuo were deconstructing elements of sound and then reconstructing them all into some sort of psychotic vision of a music that transcends genre classifications. In this he succeeds admirably, especially on pieces like "Rain in Mitaka" and "Omake," both of which are simply unclassifiable. There really are no words to describe the musical language Ikuo articulates throughout this strange but sometimes fascinating album.

For more information you can visit the Beta-lactam Ring Records web site at: http://www.blrrecords.com.

Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree

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