ALBUM REVIEW: 明 (Akira) by Black Cab

AKIRA

Lost in a Blade Runner-esque soundscape that Vangelis would be proud of, I’m sitting here with my eyes closed, headphones on. Lost in a cyber-punk world of Tokyo noir and dystopian motifs. The album begins with a panic-stricken urgency of synths and traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by Toshi Sakamoto. Black Cab’s latest offering, Akira (明) is a tour de force of theme and style. It is a concept album in the tradition of the great experimental/electronica/progressive rock artists of the past like Rick Wakeman, Mike Oldfield and the aforementioned Vangelis.

Black Cab have created a melancholic, noir soundscape that is full of longing, desperation and excitement, much like the movie and manga series Akira is based on. The brainchild of Palace Cinemas and Hear My Eyes, where they have been doing live soundtracks to cult films at the Astor for a while now, with the original sold-out performance in January of this year.

Akira depicts a dystopian version of Tokyo in the year 2049, (the same year Blade Runner is set for cult film fans out there), with cyberpunk and techno-mythos undertones. The plot follows teenage biker Tetsuo Shima, his psychic powers, and the leader of his biker gang, Shotaro Kaneda, who tries to prevent Tetsuo from releasing the imprisoned, malevolent psychic Akira, but all is not what it seems. The manga series and the legendary film adaption are also famous for the Mind-screw fan theory that many modern Hollywood films like Jacob’s Ladder, Mulholland Drive, Vanilla Sky, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall Past Lives, Primer and Inception, to mention a few, follow to this day. Importantly, the album and its concepts are based on these themes which shows throughout the album.

The Melbourne three-piece, with their guest artist the Taiko master Toshi Sakamoto, have created a luscious, multi-layered world that seduces you into the mind of set of manga, giant monsters, post-apocalyptic street gangs, devastation and fear. However, there is also a warmth in this soundtrack, that you would not necessarily associate with the subject material, the multi-layered synths working with the Taiko drums creates a dark reality that draws you in from the beginning.

Black Cab officially launches the album on Friday, 18th of August. Interested readers can find tickets online here: http://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/black-cab-akira-lp/95909

James WF Roberts

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