"True beauty has sadness," states Akiko Kiyama's MySpace page. Indeed, the Tokyo musician's take on minimal techno is a disciplined study in contrasts that announces her as a major talent. Kiyama began composing as a means of counteracting depression, and an air of melancholy pervades her music - especially when spectral washes of Shinto flute start casting their shadow over the twitching beats of Scattered. 7 Years is far from a downer, though: Kiyama has a knack for turning her abstract gloom into magnificently slinky, trippy music. Synths twitch anxiously over a booming kick-drum on Ant; the bounce of Let Me Burn Your Book is paranoid but playful. And the tension as Kiyama lets Bite a Plum build before releasing its impossibly addictive melody is incredible.
CD: Akiko Kiyama, 7 Years
Alex Macpherson is a freelance journalist who writes for The Guardian, New Statesman, Metro, Fact and Attitude. He distracts himself by checking tennis results, attending street dance classes and trawling for new music in the name of research