Somewhere between the spacey soundscapes of ambient lounge music and the scratchy breakbeats of downtempo drum n’ bass lies the wonderful world of Akumu. The brainchild of Deane Hughes, founder of the independent Spider Records label, who has previously recorded under the names Thrive and Alchemy, Akumu ranges from languid liquid synths that feel like a drowsy summer afternoon (“Chrysalis”) to hypnotic ringing guitar licks and cascading full-speed-ahead bass-plus-beats (“Drum ‘n’ Drummer”) to spooky synths and muffled electronic planet-blips (“Trepan” and “Yamato Gun”).
“Akumu” means “bad dream” in Japanese, and a lot of the album has a dreamlike quality to it. I especially enjoyed “The Black Box,” with its scratchy deep-space synths and sinuous-slow bass grind giving way in the middle to a lovely isolated, melancholy piano. Open yourself to “The Black Box” and you might see a bone-white moon ghosting through the endless night of space, with emptiness on all sides and a stealthy darkness creeping through the bright shadows cast by the blaze of roaring stars torn against its jagged-toothed lunar craters. Or, you might see something completely different.
Akumu is music for dancers who aren’t afraid of the dark, and dreamers who aren’t afraid of the beat. Definitely worth checking out.
Spider Records, P.O. Box 6625, Station A, Toronto, Ontario Canada M5W 1X4; http://www.spiderrecords.com