Review: Akio Suzuki & Aki Onda – gi n ga (Hasana Editions, Oct 25)

In their hopefully ongoing series of live albums (of which there are three so far, all released on different labels), Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda always evoke strange and wonderful worlds to escape into, a distracting immersion that’s exactly what I need after this hell-week. The two Japanese sound artists operate in only slightly overlapping areas in their solo careers, but together their auditory instincts are nothing less than symbiotic, and the freshly released gi n ga is, unsurprisingly, yet another example of this consistently fruitful creative collaboration. The recordings that comprise what I believe is only Hasana Editions’ second CD are sourced (in order) from June 2014, April 2017, and May 2014; thus, chronologically, this collection falls both between and ahead of the preceding ma ta ta bi (ORAL, 2014) and ke i te ki (Room40, 2018), which were compiled with material from 2013 and 2015, respectively. Despite that connection, however, it’s difficult for me to say whether there’s any meaningful linear trajectory of the duo’s improvisational output; to me it seems like the two musicians are so reverently devoted to the particular situation, circumstances, location, context, etcetera etcetera of a performance that they will always end up with something unique, regardless of what came before. You’ll certainly pick up on each of their preferred palettes: in the opener, “na ki sa,” alone we hear a fuzzy tape loop of crashing waves, no doubt Onda’s doing, while Suzuki’s unmistakable Analapos whirls its spectral song in the background. I couldn’t tell who contributed the vocal elements or the almost-rhythmic flute stomp in this piece, the latter of which had me unconsciously tapping a loose tribal beat underneath it. The following two tracks tilt further toward the abstract and serve up more of the texturally lush yet slightly brooding, even ominous soundscapes that made ke i te ki so enrapturing. Of these, the concluding “sa na ki” (you may notice that the titles are simply three of the possible combinations of the original syllables) is probably my favorite, unfolding like a director’s cut of the daily activities on the floor of a miniature industrial plant.

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