AKIKAZE: Deadlock (2020)
“What we have here is an outstanding EM with fantastic synth solos on furious Berlin School patterns, but...look at the cover!”
1 Deadlock 19:06
2 Lockdown 20:14
3 Deadline 15:28
4 Crackdown 17:12
5 Resurrection 7:37
(CD/DDL 79:38) (V.F.)
I can hear a felted voice behind the melancholic harmonies of a synth flowing on dark and sober layers filled of stardust. This synth is incredibly good with incredible precision in the details. And it's sounding a hundred times more beautiful when Deadlock pushes the pedal down a little after the 4th minute. The rhythm is in real Berlin School with oscillations which twirl nervously, agitating the feverishness of an analog sequencer which goes there of a good back and forth figure, up-and-down typical of vintage Berlin School. Graceful and daring, Akikaze draws the most beautiful solos, some even have this voice effect that makes us jump as it is so real, that my ears have heard. He is the Jimmy Page of synthesists by dressing his solos with a light perfume of improvisation which always end up joining the birth of such a movement or such a harmony for a big 10 minutes, and even more. There is a nice bridge around the 10th minute, built by chthonic voices, before the solos return like Eddie Van Halen in the most beautiful of his forms. An excellent title that will join my list, quite long, of good titles to bring to a desert island. It's afterwards that DEADLOCK deteriorates. But again, it depends on perceptions!
This latest album from the Dutch synthesist should be seen like a soundtrack to a horror film or even a planetary documentary on the recent and current pandemic. Each title is thus represented in music and sound effects. What caught our attention the most in this planetary break is the laxity of the many administrative levels of the USA towards the racism of the police. There were also these riots which were against the restrictive effects of planetary containment. In short, the Earth has lost its mind! It's these events, and not the usual soft floating layers or this point built around a meditative soundscapes, that Akikaze has chosen to give new impulses to the music of this album. As a result, we are constantly disturbed by noises and violence concentrated in transitory bubbles which startle us and which I found deeply unpleasant. In fact, we look at the front cover and it's right in the spirit of the music!
A thud and a gargantuan symphonic synth layer attempt a flight on the big metallic clicks and an aged voice screaming; let me out. The lingering clatter residue, Lockdown, a musically divine track, throws the moorings. The violins dancing an oneiric ballet in the cosmos makes us forget this opening at least unusual, if not out of place. This first phase of music is like an astral dream where our ears tremble with tenderness. The second movement of revolt captured in the sound effects arrives around the 7th minute. It's not that bad, but I doubt its necessity. It's a fire alarm bell that makes this first transition from Lockdown. There is not much noise and the alarm follows this train of Berlin School which starts up and opts for the line with small close dunes where the zigzagging are oblong and are done smoothly. The synth solos are festive and the rhythmic vision is divided between these oscillating bubbles and this bass sequence which runs wildly while trying to escape these mini riots. But synth solos my friends! Phew, flashes of Michael Garrison come to the surface. Enticing and above all melodious to the point of tattooing chills. Another short phase of light metallic clatter and the rhythm always resumes as fluid with its boorish air under his seductive solos. Lockdown rolls until the 13th minute where a big derailment in iconoclastic sound effects, it looks like a John Carpenter movie, lasts beyond 2 minutes, and definitely breaks the spell. At the very least, mine. Lockdown may well leave in a less lively envelope and cut again to end up in a fishtail that I am still mad at those sound effects.
Deadline is born from this noise to offer a sweetness that blooms like a bed of rose gardens where a fairy plays flute in the company of a pixie on acoustic guitar. It's a good rural moment whose passage to a heavy and frenzied rhythm passes through an immense boiler which unleashes its boiling larva on the traces of this rhythm whose fingers on the harpsichord simply make you dizzy. I like this electronic fusion with the bucolic vision of this track which is a furious electronic rock as heavy as Deep Purple in Highway Star. Akikaze is like an octopus having a pair of hands on each arm which manipulates the keyboard like the synth and the sequencer in energetic moment of a rarity… rare. And paf! The rhythm suddenly breaks around the 8:30 minutes where ticking, voices and church bells divert our attention for about twenty seconds so that Deadline returns to a Mediterranean country phase this time. The sequencer hangs on and resists another sound effects tempest attempting to give a second rhythmic breath to the title and re-paf! It is the end of beans, unjustified, of a superb title which did not need these sound effects to grow. Whispers from the crowd and the breaking of bottles stick to the dark moods of the introduction to Crackdown. We will tell each other; it's loud noise that's just unpleasant if we're here to listen to music. Because the music is so beautiful with this acoustic guitar smelling the romance of these violins emperor of our meditation zone. A very short moment, since the music turns around in a vision of racing between two antagonists: the cop and the killer. If this rhythm is effective, the synth harmonies are just as effective with whining which brings us back to the heyday of the 70's when musicians competed in genius by creating music that really stuck to the spirit of the music. Another phase, the most violent of all, which features a crowd wiping the bursts of bullets and missiles from Trump's soldiers on their fellow citizens, and the music takes on a new direction with a more nervous approach.
A chance that there is the intense Resurrection to end an album which would be excellent without these innumerable phases of noises. I hope that one day Akikaze will redo or remixed this album, musically divine, without these noises which exasperated me more than seduced me. But it may appeal to another audience ...
Sylvain Lupari (October 24th, 2020) ***½**
Available at Groove. nl