Alan Licht & Aki Onda "Everydays"

 

The Spuid's Ear, USA, 2008
Text by Brian Olewnick

 


Long time collaborators Licht and Onda present five varied tracks that touch on a slightly psychedelic, and quite fun, corner of contemporary improv/noise. With Licht on guitar and Onda wielding his customary cassette tapes (both also engaging in electronics), the pair constructs rich, dense works that balance abstraction with a warmth and pulse that could attract listeners normally attuned to the outer reaches of rock.

 

The opener, "tick tock", offsets swirling, calliope-like trills with found voices via cassette, creating an off-kilter cinematic world, disturbingly dreamy, the voices chanting in a martial cadence. "ship shape" brings in a guitar riff seemingly lifted off an ancient metal set, all begrimed and sooty, soon accompanied by thudding (though eroded) rhythms, shafts of lighting and all manner of detritus. It's a pretty funny, and very enjoyable, work, as though Licht and Onda had dredged the lower depths of "Red" era King Crimson and early Black Sabbath, extracting the noise, lacing it with distortion, and setting it way up front in the mix. If it ends up wandering a bit aimlessly, it was still a wild ride. They shift gears abruptly on "tiptoe", Licht's gentle guitar sounding strikingly like Metheny's in Steve Reich's "Guitar Counterpoint", Onda contributing bird calls and what seem to be trombone blasts, before settling into a lovely Fahey-ish section over backward tape. "chitchat" returns somewhat to the concerns of the opening track, but the organ tones have become more tonal and luxurious, like something out of early ambient Eno, here mixed in with conversational snippets, traffic and rough clinks and clanks. Finally, "be bop" aims for the jugular, all harsh guitar and roaring tapes, the former still implying a pulse that hustles matters along and, indeed, recalls "Are You Experienced?" at certain points. As with most of the other tracks, Licht and Onda keep the ideas flowing and generate enough internal momentum to maintain one's interest and, more, to create an atmosphere that, in retrospect, is surprisingly rockish and approachable.

 

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