Akiyama, a guitarist, electronicist, and sometime violist, is most closely associated with the Japanese free improvisation scene centered around Taku Sugimoto. On Relator, a series of improvisations on acoustic guitar, he nestles into a space midway between Sugimoto's ultra-quiet serenity and the more agitated state of players like Derek Bailey. The pieces tend to be sparse and, in a sense, simple with highly abstracted blues motifs recurring irregularly. The guitar often sounds as though strung with extreme looseness, ensuring that a rattling sound will rough things up if they threaten to get too pristine. Akiyama's volume level ranges from nonexistent up to about medium range, never getting very loud. Some of the tracks (such as "Preparation") have a lovely, almost bucolic mood while others fall into random scrape 'n' clunk forays. At his best, he shows a keen sense of aural space and a very calm and relaxed approach to playing, though the listener may have to decide where to draw the line between relaxedness and lassitude. Generally, Relator will appeal to fans of quiet improv and post-Bailey guitar playing. Newcomers to this genre may prefer to begin with the more accessible Sugimoto.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick