Aki Onda with Loren Connors & Alan Licht "Lost City"


A Closer Listen, USA, 2015
Text by Joseph Sannicandro


Aki Onda is well known for his soundscapes exploring the limits of memory, utilizing unmarked cassette tapes recorded throughout his travels around the world. Here he does much the same but adopts the role of composer and conductor. Using a score comprised of photographs taken in the months after 9/11, Onda creates a score by which to direct improvisations, here enlisting fellow NYC avant-gardists Loren Connors and Alan Licht. The two engage in a duet across side A, while the flip-side features Connors solo. The treated guitar sounds are fa removed from the finds of sounds that Onda traditionally works with, but the ebb and flow is familiar. Recorded in 2007, the 8 year delay itself contributes a level of removal while still feeling cathartic. Unlike Onda's unlabeled cassettes, the images that populate the accompanying videos function on a very different level of abstraction. Onda has often explored the relationship between specific places and the malleability, and fallibility, of memory, but in re-approaching the trauma of 9/11 and representing the feeling that overtook the city and the nation in the aftermath, Lost City is grounded in a way that makes it much more powerfully evocative.