Roots Magic EP, the latest from Akio Nagase, a veteran of the Japanese underground, is an exercise in lean, funky, dubby deep house. Despite its heady mix of techno, acid house, and dub, Akio finds a way to incorporate each track with a strong sense of colourfulness, playfulness, and looseness. His meticulous, yet unshowy craft, results in a degree of approachability and levity that is rare when it comes to these subgenres.
The range and diversity of sounds and instrumental palettes on the EP is impressive to say the least. Acid Teng Shing Hang, the B-side opener, opens with echoing cymbals before a sufficiently squelchy acid line and tight drum pattern emerge, which then suddenly and seamlessly transition into a killer bassline and acid house groove, replete with ominous, off-kilter vocal samples. The track is chock full of disparate, eclectic elements that give it its lifeblood: an enchanted, bellowing female voice, bongos, and a sitar, to name just a few. Here, Akio displays his music-making M.O in full swing: nimble and voracious in approach, tongue-in-cheek in delivery, yet laser-focused in harnessing the power of its groove.
Releasing on vanguard Singapore-based imprint, Darker Than Wax, on September 4th, this release marks Akio’s only second release of new music after almost a decade-long hiatus. If this EP is any indication, that hiatus has only fed his creativity and allowed him to refine and develop his vibrant approach to dance music.