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The War Below

by Andy Akiho

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After more than 6 years, Rome prize-winning composer and percussionist Andy Akiho releases his sophomore album on National Sawdust Tracks. The trailblazing compilation of two new major works, 'Prospects of a Misplaced Year,' and 'Septet,' features The Knights, Vicky Chow, Ian David Rosenbaum, Friction Quartet, and Akiho himself on steel pan.

'Prospects' begins with a thrilling exchange between a driving viola motif and the deadening silence of the Palo Alto cathedral where it was recorded. One by one, the ensemble throws splashes of color onto the motif until a dense polyrhythmic texture is formed and drives the piece through. Pianist Jenny Q Chai delivers a skillful performance with poster tack and a coin lodged into the harp of the piano, creating muted knocks, zips, and unexpected tone changes throughout.

In a nod to its premiering ensemble, Akiho smartly titles the name of each movement of Prospects after each of the group’s members: movement one for example, titled The War Below, is named after Friction Quartet violist Taija Warbelow, where the parentheses in the third movement, (K)in(e)tic (V)ar(i)atio(n)s, uncover the name K-E-V-I-N, for violinist Kevin Rogers.

'Septet' was created in collaboration with choreographer Benjamin Millepied for the LA Dance Project, and features members of the Grammy-nominated orchestral collective The Knights, Bang On A Can all-star pianist Vicky Chow, acclaimed percussionist and National Sawdust veteran Ian David Rosenbaum, and Akiho himself on steel pan. Written in two parts, the piece shifts on a dime from fiery unison melodies, cool conversation between instruments, and expertly layered themes, with Akiho’s inimitable virtuosity on steel pan at the fore.

Original artwork and package by design maverick Michael Cina. The War Below also marks the label's first vinyl pressing: a limited edition run of 250x double LPs.


released January 5, 2018

Prospects of a Misplaced Year (2016):
Jenny Q Chai, Piano
Friction Quartet
Otis Harriel, Violin
Kevin Rogers, Violin
Taija Warbelow, Viola
Douglas Machiz, Cello

This commission has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.

Produced, Engineered, Mixed and Mastered by Matthew Carr
Recorded on November 22nd & 24th, 2016 at St. Marks Episcopal Church Palo Alto, CA

World Premiere Performances:
November 13, 2016 -
Noe Valley Chamber Music - Noe Valley Ministry - San Francisco, CA


Septet (2014 | 2016)
Andy Akiho, Steel Pan
Ian David Rosenbaum, Percussion
Vicky Chow, Piano
Members of The Knights:
Colin Jacobsen, Violin
Ariana Kim, Violin
Mario Gotoh, Viola
Caitlin Sullivan, Cello

Ballet Commissioned by LA Dance Project
Benjamin Millepied, Choreographer & Artistic Director

Produced, Engineered, Mixed and Mastered by Charlie Martinez
Recorded and Mixed at OneTwoSeven Harlem, NY January 3-11, 2016.
Additional recording at Audio Paint, NYC

World Premiere Performance:
February 11, 2017 - The Knights: I <3 Steel Pan Evening Concert at BRIC House Ballroom - Brooklyn, NY


National Sawdust
Jeffrey Zeigler, Label Director
Justin Wong, Label Manager


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Andy Akiho New York, New York

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