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Digital Blues (MP3)

An electronic riff on an essay from 1751

The Japan-based musician Yasuo Akai recently elected to re-release his album Diderot’s Clock Man on one of the more viable current platforms: he simply posted it for free download at The album’s title refers to the central theme of an excerpt from an extraordinary 1751 essay by Denis Diderot, “Lettre sur les sourds et muets,” in which consciousness and clockwork, sound and reality, are brought together into one extended poetic analogy.

In Akai’s hands, this metaphor in turn becomes a string of electronic pieces, key among them “Slow Blues,” the album’s longest track, and its closing one. It’s an enticingly paced piece, a blues true to its title in its speed, the beat a metronome built from, seemingly, the most cursory employment of an old 808 drum machine. Above, around, and through it bleeds a wan static, a sheer filament of noise.

Track originally posted for free download at, where the full five-track album is available. More on Akai at

By Marc Weidenbaum

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