Given all that the world has been going through, it’s refreshing to encounter someone who has remained optimistic. Pascal Bideau is Akusmi, his moniker suggesting acoustic, albeit with an international tinge ~ exactly what one will hear while spinning Fleeting Future.
The album is a soundtrack to travel, whether literal or intellectual; the music is always in motion, pausing only to discharge passengers (as in the center of “Neo Tokyo”). During his own travels, Bideau has fallen in love with Gamelan tuning systems in Indonesia and dreamt of ridng monorails in Japan. “Divine Moments of Truth” is reminiscent of Banco de Gaia’s “Last Train to Lhasa,” suggesting a rail journey, images blurring through a racing window. The fact that Bideau has not yet been to all the places that inspire him demonstrates – as Pico Iyer often writes – that travel is also a function of the mind.
Each track contains a central theme, often carried by one instrument before shifting to another. The multi-instrumentalist plays sax, guitar, gongs, piano, flute, percussion and synth, but invites guests to round out the Akusmi sound. The organic is balanced so closely by the electronic that the album might also fit snugly in modern composition. Upbeat tempos and danceability tilt the scales. While the album is titled Fleeting Future, Bideau still seems stunned by science, enamored with the power of possibility. This awe translates to timbres of joy. Even as travel has slowed in recent years, and societal progress has stalled, art and technology have continued to surge forward.
There’s nothing new about using music to convey hope, but Bideau does it with such ebullience that it’s hard to resist. “Longing for Tomorrow” conveys a sense that tomorrow can be better, no matter what the prognostications. Without mentioning the multiverse by name, the artist speaks of potential futures branching, “not one future but innumerable ones all cancelling each other. That’s what makes it fleeting.” “Concrescence” – the title meaning a coalescence of elements – exemplifes the theme, as organic and electronic, real and imagined, past, present and future converge into a unified, albeit unnamed whole.
Optimism may be in short supply these days, but there’s an ample amount beaming from Akusmi, enough to lift the spirits and remind listeners that the future has not yet been written. (Richard Allen)