Review: Akio Suzuki & Aki Onda – Ke I Te Ki (Room40, Nov 2)

Right away, Ke I Te Ki feels more spontaneous than Suzuki and Onda’s last collaboration, Ma Ta Ta Bi. According to Onda’s insightful abstract for the album, Ke I Te Ki was recorded live at the Emily Harvey Foundation in New York City, a notable landmark of the American avant-garde. The gallery’s exhibition spaces are very open and unrestricted, allowing the duo to perform in their preferred environment; i.e. one where the audience is not confined to one place and the performers are not completely separate. Suzuki and Onda’s fondness for unusual sounds that occupy a space in distinct ways comes across well in these excerpts, and the excellent recordings give a sense of both the intimacy of the materials used and their acoustic properties in the much larger surrounding environment. The title track expands on squeaking textures presumably made by Suzuki’s Analapos, while quiet scrapes of metal and rustling plastic provide a softer undercurrent. “Yo Ru No To Ba Ri” takes us to a dark, aquatic soundscape, with the Analapos providing wistful whalish wails and what sounds like responses from Onda in the form of what I think is an electric fan, and some field recordings of seagulls later in the piece. Funnily enough, the only sounds of which I knew the origin for certain was the occasional beeps and honks of cars outside the building, which introduce a unique feeling of isolation to the music. These two artists clearly enjoy the work they do together, and that passion comes across even in the album’s sparsest moments.