Looking back at a handful of releases on Locust, aRCHIVE, Erstwhile, and other labels, Tetuzi Akiyama is a veteran in the folk improv scene. This new ep documents a more concise side of the Japanese guitarist. The seven tracks that make up ?The Ancient Balance to Control Death? barely make it to the 16-minute mark. Three of them are way shorter than two minutes, all are sketchy etudes in blues songwriting, which strike me as rather irrelevant. Some people claim that the biggest surprise on here is that Tetuzi sings, but I?m more in awe of the fact that even such a short collection can be really boring.
Don?t get me wrong: Akiyama?s fingerpicking is still out there enough to make at least a passing impression, but I?m not too fond of the arrangements for several voices, and I feel that, for example, the 69 seconds of ?Break Silence? are either half-finished, or blatant refusals to spend more time on decent songwriting. These tracks might work live, but I don?t think I?ll ever find out. For me, this release is totally unnecessary, but maybe the problem is that I?ve never been into blues at all. 3/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (23 July, 2008)