For his second full-length, Japanese musician Takashi Wada's aspirations are wide and many. For one, this album is apparently about self-realization, a process Wada sets about to convey through the merging of electronic technologies old and new. Unlike his previous effort, which saw him become, as it were, an ectoplasm of his laptops screen, Wada here also takes up a physical relation to the trumpet, piano and guitar.
One might note that such cross-pollination's are plentiful to the point of being as exchangeable as coins, and true though this may be, at rare moments, the staccato trumpet lines and ashen banks of rippling piano prove surprisingly skillful in their disruption of the shifting parade of mushy synthesized chords. On pieces such as ?Lost Land?, the poised forward motion of an ebow guitar cuts right through and blocks the seemingly unrelenting vision of a dark dub rhythm. Similarly, the minimal piano intervention of ?Pilot Fish?, when looped and layered with precise and warm-toned trumpet notes, creates a thrumming, palpitating backdrop that is delicate without being grievously winsome. As a result, such compositions become mirrors which may be held up to any number of experiences (though mostly of the slightly contemplative, still variety) and reflect back specific details unique to each of them. For all its gaseous shapes and subtle wisps of oriental melody, then, Araki is somewhat seductive insofar as its faint digital tremors and static-streaked field recordings draw you into a world that uncannily comes to reflect that of your own. With ?Araki's Dream?, eddying waves of piano brush up against eroded guitar notes and continue to settle into a cyclical pattern, one whose very stasis and, more importantly, Wada's commitment to it, enables otherwise evasive nuances to be salvaged from these very basic elements.
When the giddily erratic tempos and snapping beats are pulled off without hesitation, however, and when flickering notes settle easily into drowsy melodies, pieces no longer reflect a world so much as imitate it. At such points, tracks merge into their own model and do not allow for a response. In this sense, such songs do not educate, but merely inform (this is house music, that is an ambient track, etc, etc), and in so doing, fail to comment upon Wada's original interest, namely, self-actualization. On a whole, the album is littered but not overwhelmed by such moments. In fact, though some diligence is required, there are numerous nooks and corners hiding here in which one may steal away to and nurse their nostalgia. 6/10 -- Max Schaefer (10 July, 2006)