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5 / 2014
Akio Suzuki & Aki Onda "ma ta ta bi" CD + booklet
I'm happy to annouce "ma ta ta bi" is out now on ORAL_records. You can listen to all tracks and purchase it HERE.
Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda Conversation on ma ta ta bi
Onda: Do you remember how we ended up like this?
Suzuki: In 2005 you invited me to perform with you at the Osaka Harbor Red Brick Warehouse and we played for five straight hours. I think that performance was our first. For that performance I not only used my self-constructed instruments, but also had mounds of empty bottles and a moveable sound machine constructed out of a flatbed with lots of radios stuck onto it. You also had many amps. We spread all of these things about the gigantic space. Aki-san seemed to maintain his composure enough to be able to place lots of candles around the middle of the space but I was feeling like a fish trying desperately to keep on swimming.
Onda: It was such a bare space that things echoed surprisingly well. It was a pretty easy space to work with, wasn’t it? Both you and I play around with sound as well as their echoes and approach sound as a space or an environment. Meaning that what we can create really depends on the acoustics of the space…
Suzuki: The space was so large that I don’t think the audience heard the same sounds that I was hearing. They were all crowding around us but depending on where they were standing, they must have heard completely differently.
Onda: Also, we were both moving around as we were playing so depending on the spot, the reverberations changed and at times it sounded like they were being modulated. It’s so interesting how the sound changes dramatically from moment to moment… It occurred to me to imagine the opposite situation… What would happen if you played ANALAPOS [an instrument invented by Suzuki in 1972, consisting of two single-lidded cylinders attached by a long steel coil. The player can manipulate and strike the coil, or vocalise into the tube] in an anechoic chamber?
Suzuki: What’s interesting about that is that from my experience, when I play in rooms that are surrounded by sliding paper walls… like in a traditional Japanese room, where there are hardly any echoes, I am able to play with more attention to detail. So I think it would work in an anechoic chamber too. Conversely, in a highly echoing space like a cathedral, ANALAPOS would lose its meaning, or rather it would be useless.
Onda: I see. You are saying that ANALAPOS creates an echoing space inside its cylinder. A cathedral-like space is inside of it and results in creating a microcosm.
Suzuki: Speaking of microcosms, here is a story from my childhood: my father was teaching me how to play the shakuhachi but I couldn’t get it to make any sounds. Then he placed the blowhole to my ear and started playing the Japanese flute by putting his fingers against the finger holes. I was so surprised to hear ‘Rokudan No Shirabe’ (a famous shakuhachi song) being played just by the current in the atmosphere. There was a cosmos inside a bamboo cylinder too. Through this kind of childhood experience, I must have learnt to have fun using the mutual vibrations of both myself and of the space. So it’s possible to say that ANALAPOS was born out of the attitude of listening.
Onda: So, moving on to our performance in the early summer of 2013 just outside of Brussels in a vacant lot that used to be a factory… We performed for three straight hours in a building that had parts of the roof missing and in the massive garden next to it.
Suzuki: How were you putting out sound there?
Onda: Most of the sounds I actually found on-site. There was one tape recorder that was constantly pressed on to record and the sounds that both you and I played incorporated the ambient sounds that were there. Like Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting In a Room these sounds were in a state of wobbly feedback. There were also two AM/FM radios that were kept on. All of these things were connected to a mixer and were edited by adding and subtracting sound. If good sounds were found, they got looped… The sounds of the environment were important too. I think the old factory space was close to an airport because every ten to fifteen minutes, we heard the echoes of a jet plane at low-flight. Close to the canal, if you listened, you could hear the soft gurgling of the water. I continued to mix all of these sounds… By decreasing the volume of my sounds, these environmental sounds came to the fore. If I raised the volume, you couldn’t hear them anymore… it was a balancing act. During the three-hour performance, I think I only used about three or four cassette tapes. One was a tape that was given to me about a week prior by Silvia Kastel when we were touring together in Italy. The other was a tape of you and I practicing in a hotel room in Brussels. Might as well call them sounds that I acquired in the journey towards creating ma ta ta bi – a bonus of sorts.
Suzuki: We both used empty beer bottles we found at the site as well as tonnes of plastic water bottles we had brought from the hotel. I used pieces of wood that were lying around and played by hammering in nails and created an improvised sculpture out of those. Whether it is ANALAPOS or Stone, both of these instruments are very good at adapting to the environment, so it was very special to be in the crumbling ruins that was on its way to returning to nature. It was very much “site-specific.” There were really so many things that could only be achieved in that specific space. As a result, even three-hours felt like it wasn’t enough time.
Onda: Plus, it’s not just the sound but also the atmosphere of the site which affects our performances immensely. Something like the character or power of the space… Apparently the place used to be a pulp factory and the ground was stained with liquid waste and there was accumulation of asbestos – it was a pretty unhealthy environment to say the least… there were bits of glass and wasted material lying around the space… it was rundown and was in no way a pretty environment. It must have been quite polluted. That kind of ‘energy’ or qi made its way into the performance – this energy that felt like something unfriendly was writhing about. It’s a strange way to put it but I did feel as if we were trying to soothe this malicious qi by performing. I felt this sensation of calming something down.
Suzuki: Yes, I remember that. I wonder how long the space had been abandoned. The faded danger signs that were plastered in places was disquieting and the mounds and mounds of pigeon waste was also disgusting. I’ve heard that bird waste often cultures poisonous bacteria. It was to the point that when we went on a walk-through, I had to tiptoe around and hold my breath to try not to breathe in the dust. But for the performance, we had accepted all of these things about the environment. Maybe our “sound” cleansed the “space” because we stopped feeling these things. There were some people in the audience who laid down on the ground as if it was nothing to them. Somebody’s dog was running around too. I wanted to experience the listening side as well so at the end of the performance, I stood at the impromptu oto-date* mark I had set up and enjoyed the sounds that reverberated.
Onda: It’s kind of like a cleansing ritual isn’t it? (laughs) What if after that, the poison had actually been erased… During the last 30 minutes, watching you stand silently on the oto-date mark has left an impression on me.
* oto-date is Akio Suzuki’s sound project which aims to make one listen to the sounds of the streets. During Tuned City in Brussels, the project was done by marking various listening points around town.
Translation: Aiko Masubuchi
11 / 2013
London based label/publisher My Dance The Skull releases my new cassette work in their Voice Studies series on November 24!
Aki Onda "Midnight Radio 1 or Part A"
Side A (14.44)
Side B (14.51)
Recorded with radio-cassette Walkman in many different cities.
Seven or eight years ago I acquired a radio-cassette Walkman: a Sony TCM F59. Since then, whenever I go on a trip, I throw the Walkman into my suitcase and take it around with me. No matter what country I am in, upon my return to the hotel room, it has become a habit to listen to the radio into the late hours of the night. As soon as I snuggle into bed, I begin tuning the radio in search of a program I like. If I concentrate very hard at my fingertips, I can sometimes catch two or three frequencies at once and hear different languages overlap. Russian, Swedish, Arabic, Korean… there is no bigger joy than the moment when I begin to hear these languages that are foreign to me not as words but as sound. In these moments, I am wading in voices.
I always fall asleep doing this and so half the time, the radio is playing in my dreams. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wake up to the high-pitched beep of the test tone bouncing off the hotel room walls. In the mornings, I wake up to some unknown program or if the tuning is off, the result is static white noise. In a way, the radio is my substitute for sleeping pills.
For this Voice Studies, I have selected some of my favorite segments from my recordings. The sound is just as it had been recorded; no post production work has been done to it.
I am grateful to Michael Snow for giving me the cassettes of 2 Radio Solos just around the time I began using my TCM F59. 2 Radio Solos was recorded in a remote North Canadian cabin in the summer of 1980 by tuning into the shortwave radio frequencies around the world. For this piece, I instead took the radio to different countries and spun the sound together. If this practice of mine continues, a sequel (2 or Part B) is a likely scenario.
P.S. If the key to this composition is to listen to voices divorced of meaning, then this may not be as effective to the multilingualist who can understand many languages at once. I would like to somewhat apologetically acknowledge this in advance.
New York, April 1, 2013
Translated by Aiko Masubuchi
11 / 2013
Falten / Damaged
ISSUE and The Drawing Center present works by artists William Engelen and Aki Onda. Celebrated percussion ensemble Talujon perform Engelen's recent work Falten, a hybrid of score and sculpture, in conjunction with the exhibition William Engelen: Falten, on view at The Drawing Center through January. Percussionist Eli Keszler and the Ashcan Orchestra's Pat Spadine perform Aki Onda's Damaged, in which slide projections from Onda's ongoing series of New York street photography serve as visual cues for improvisation.
Works by William Engelen and Aki Onda
Friday, November 22, 2013
at ISSUE Project Room
More info HERE
11 / 2013
This is one of installations "Cassette Diary 2012," which I'm showing at the sound art exhibition "Sonósferas" at Fundación Teatro Odeón in Bogota until the end of this month. The piece is consists of 365 cassette tapes I was making as sound diary everyday last year. Each tape is dated, and those are placed on tables as if a calendar.
The other piece is the audio version of the same project. 75 minutes excerpts from 365 days worth of recording is diffused in a beautiful and gorgeous space in the Fundación Teatro Odeón.
11 / 2013
Messy Is Good
Just flew back from Bogota after staying there for one week. I was setting up two installations for a sound art exhibition and doing a concert and talk. The city was so messy and chaotic, and somehow very inspiring. Tropical fruit and coffee were excellent!
10 / 2013
"Planète Marker" a tribute show to the filmmaker and thinker Chris Marker, who died last year, started at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. I'll be performing an homage piece, surrounded by his rarely seen installations, on December 13. As his cinematic universe has been a big source for my inspiration for some decades, and I'll be delighted to be a part of it.
Moe info HERE.
10 / 2013
Aki Onda and Raha Raissnia Coming Soon
I'm excited to announce this double bill evening with William Basinski for celebrating ISSUE Project Room's Ten Years Alive on the Infinite Plain.
8 / 2013
Tiny Mix Tapes features Aki Onda interview
I lengthly discussed about my art practice with Tiny Mix Tapes. Please read the interview HERE
7 / 2013
Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda in Tuned City, Brussels, June 30, 2013
Photo by fabonthemoon
7 / 2013
Paul Clipson and Aki Onda Video Online
Bomb magazine posted a video of my performance with filmaker Paul Clipson on February 23, 2013 at 155 Freeman in Brooklyn. The event was a part of my residency at ISSUE Project Room. Click HERE to watch.
7 / 2013
Cassette Memories Video Online
Soundry posted a video about Cassette Memories performance at Ecole des Beaux-arts in Paris. Click HERE.
7 / 2013
Chapelle des Petits-Augustins
Aki Onda Cassette Memories in École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
Organized by Daniele Balit of Birdcage
Co-organized by Vincent Rioux of the Pôle Numérique de l'ENSBA
May 7, 2013
Photo by Aurélien Mole
4 / 2013
Cassettes Momeries at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 7 pm
Aki Onda Cassette Memories site specific performance
La Chapelle des Petits Augustins and other locations
École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts
14 Rue Bonaparte, 75006, Paris
Free, RSVP (email to firstname.lastname@example.org). More info HERE.
4 / 2013
More images from Damaged series shot in New York between 2011-2012.
3 / 2013
BOMB Magazine Features Aki Onda by Michael Snow
Canadian visual artist and musician, also my collaborator, Michael Snow wrote about my work for BOMB maganize (Number 123 / Spring 2013). I'm delighted since Michael has been a source of inspiration for me for so many years. You can read the article HERE
3 / 2013
South of The Border: Cassette Memories Vol. 3 - Tiny Mix Tapes Review
Text by Burkut, Tiny Mix Tapes, February 2013
The latest collection of Cassette Memories from Japanese field recording maverick Aki Onda comes spun along a grizzled cocktail of bewitched and alienating tape hiss. Cinematic by the project's distinctive virtue, this warped and distorted concoction arranges spliced chunks of stock excerpts from the artist's curious expeditions to Mexico: birds screeching, tires spinning, waves crashing, distant pop tunes wavering, and a slipshod assembly of marching street bands, all over a rickety tide of AM crackle and gorged, tumultuous static. This most recent installment is momentous, an exploit that commands one's attention as a nostalgic journey is curated, across the border, via an assemblage of busted tape recorders and crackerjack manipulation techniques.
What makes South of the Border such a strapping listen is the measures deployed in embedding the hypnotic, meditative clutter residing within these soundscapes, but contemplative listens lead to a number of questions concerning the album's very premise: With a production quality so rough and coarse, why were these segments recorded in the first place? Were they purely captured for audience playback, or did there exist some alternate intent? The overarching title is a generous giveaway, as each chapter embodies specific recollections that Onda has decided to impose through his favored medium of documentation. This album is the third in a series that has taken him around New York, New Hampshire, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Tokyo, Paris, Tangier, Valencia, Lisbon, and London. Abstract tonalities are captured on location before they are edited, using an assortment of magnetic tape tools and evocative effects to create rugged textures.
One of the central principles behind Onda's work is that each piece should resemble the sounds of daily life; they are about people, places, and activities that occur with distinct regularity. The final mix embodies instances of an outsider peering in to observe the fractured interplay that exists between the practitioner and his subject, the former expertly wielding his skill at mangling the results in creating what he refers to on his website as "cinema for the ear." Indeed, Onda's initial motive for moving to New York in the 1990s was his love for film. It was in developing his passion for motion pictures that he began to work on Cassette Memories, the latest episode of which bears an uncanny resemblance to a curious adventure his father embarked upon around Mexico with a movie camera in 1968. As part of the Japanese Olympic hockey team, Onda's dad documented his travels in Mexico City with a Super 8 camera in an attempt to present foreign environments for the benefit of his friends and family back home, a feat that he accomplished using an apparatus now revered for its crumbling, gritty style. It is plausible to assume that South of the Border is an attempt at recreating a disjointed soundtrack to memories of watching that escapade, flickering rickety through an old projector.
The results are as cross-grained as disintegrating Kodachrome. Two of Onda's tape recorders were broken beyond repair during the recording process, a technological defect that has been rigorously flaunted and that works to the project's advantage. This grating, bungled style is demonstrated right from the very outset, where "A Day of Pilgrimage" bursts on the scene with sporadic marching drums and shrill trumpet blasts. The music is heavy, but only because it dutifully replicates the importance of noise for individuals traveling abroad or working in foreign environments. Noise remains integral to experiencing foreign surroundings, regardless of the form it takes — a busted boom box cranked to ear-splitting volume at a Burmese village celebration; the roar of motorbike horns and tuk-tuks in full throttle during rush hour traffic in Mumbai; the harsh chirping of insects courting in Sri Lankan jungle thicket or the blistering silence of Auschwitz — noise builds on magnitude with the unfamiliar, and that is delightfully captured on this extraordinarily pounding sequence. The fractured intensity of those marching drums is cut between the hiss of a broken tape deck and the laughter of gamesome children. Strangers beckon and shout as the pilgrimage shifts its direction; the festivities gradually fade away, the rumbling of tires proceeds driftless prattling, and the intensity subsides.
Whatever daily utterances sheathe "A Day of Pilgrimage," they were clearly part of an event that impacted the artist. The arrangement is not just a reorganized and braided interpretation of what he was exposed to; splinters of conversation and inconsequential resonance are so intricately framed that they surely bear importance for the man who experienced this entire caper on the back of his father's film experiments. On "Bruise and Bite," it feels as though the microphone has been buried in a sandpit, unable to pick up anything but aural portions of what is happening elsewhere. A propeller fan hisses and loops while people chatter behind frazzled radio pop melodies that shimmer somewhere distant. The remaining minutes sound like they were chronicled in a cave, choral singing looped and pitched shifted to create a sorrowful and tender mood, the chorus rippling along solicitous looping as the feedback of broken kit meshes the track together. It's an awesome listen, part of an incredibly robust and imaginative composition that uses the most unorthodox recording methods while conjuring a daringly intrusive and powerful atmosphere. It feels as though a secret is being slowly divulged, fragments of Onda's journey as he re-imagines his father's concept.
The forceful wind instruments that allow for such power to be construed are revisited on "I Tell a Story of Bodies That Change," which is both an extension of their presence on the album and an instrumental mantra that swells and pulsates amid the weird scraping of dodgy implements. At this point, it appears as though the cassette deck has been dropped in a bucket of glue and played back through a completely obliterated walkman — the dirge it creates is incredibly tense and impossibly alienating. Although the final number is particularly long, it allows for sequences hinged on repetition to hook themselves into the rest of this accomplished release, which bolsters the premise that these are not just random modulations captured off the cuff and dished out on disc; they are expertly mixed, well-comprehended configurations that encourage disjointed layers and textures to bloom while cushioning the artist's lo-fi tendencies.
This cracking supplement to the Cassette Memories series brings location to the fore in a more prominent way than any of its predecessors, and the connection it has with Onda's father punctuates the importance of the public events and the conversations presented here. The arrangement of material and the aural environment that surrounds it is exceptionally well-treated, making this a genuine triumph in field recording and sound collage. Onda has taken great care with a bold and imaginative concept, assembling a beautifully emotive addition to his catalog, an embracing cinematic depth-charge that encapsulates the full scope of his potential within a tapestry of recordings that remain delicate and subtle, despite the aggressive sibilance each track is wrapped up in.
3 / 2013
50 Years of Cassettes
4 pm connecting to Paris event - Tape DJ
6 pm films
8 pm music
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the invention of the cassette tape. This unique medium has mutated from a cutting edge, compact listening device to an obsolete "lo-fi" throwaway object, relegated to thrift stores and glove compartments. The cassette has also played a crucial role within the underground music scene of the past 35 years, as a cheap method of distributing challenging, non commercialized musics as well as creating a consumer friendly method of home recording.
50 Years of Tapes will spotlight four artists whose work primarily uses the cassette as a basis for musique concrete explorations. Aki Onda, G. Lucas Crane (Nonhorse), Emmanual Ferrant and Rinus Van Alebeek will perform either solo or in various combinations. The day will also be punctuated by a program of related experimental films all shot on pixelvision, curated by Sarah Halpern as well as servings of delicious cassette shaped hors d'oeuvres. A listening library of the entire catalogue of Tellus Tapes will be installed in the Silent Barn showspace, as well as an ongoing tape fair with tape labels from the northeast selling their magnetic wares.
2 / 2013
Aki Onda on Peter Beard - The Wire's Inner Sleeve
The Inner Sleeve, The Wire, March 2013
Artwork selected and text by Aki Onda
Peter Beard "Diary" Libro Port 1993
To begin with, it was not like I understood music. When I was a kid, I could barely play a harmonica, nor was I able to get a handle on the theories of music no matter how hard I tried to instill them in my head. So, early on, I gave up on music. Rather, what I did become curious about was the visual expression in the arts. I began frequenting art museums in elementary school and devoured the contemporary arts before I awakened to photography through the surrealists.
I began taking photos for magazines and in my teens, I met many musicians through the lens of my camera: John Zorn, Arto Lindsay, Blixa Bargeld... I was blown away by what these people were doing. This was the mid-1980s, when music was bright and shining. Still, my interest was in the visual arts, in photography and in film – things that can be perceived by the eye.
On a whim, I began field recording using a cassette walkman, although this still had nothing to do with wanting to do music. In 1988, I was living in Brixton in South London. I bought a mousy coloured Sony machine from a black guy selling electronics in a junkyard sale. It was just before I was leaving for Morocco and I thought it might be a good way to somehow record my trip. The Nikon FA that I had been using for some years had just broken and I did not have enough saved for a new camera. To say that I settled for a cassette walkman is probably closer to the truth. I definitely did not imagine that I would continue to use cassette walkmans for the next 20-odd years of my life.
From 1990, I lived in Tokyo. There, one day, at a bookstore in Shibuya, I stumbled across Peter Beard’s Diary. I didn’t have any money on me so I pocketed it. Despite its name, the book was a far cry from the conventional notion of a diary. Photographs of wild animals taken in the Kenyan savannah and of naked fashion models were mixed in with nonsensical words, trash from the streets, magazine clipping and handwritten symbols that reeked the smell of outsider art. All of this was slathered with animal blood as well as his own. Everything was relentlessly collaged together. This is it! I was enlightened. Though the medium was different, I thought that I could make a diary using only sound – that maybe I too could create an impact as strong as Beard’s Diary.
From then on, using about 20 cassette tapes (usually C46s) I began to obsessively record sound from the everyday. Once I filled up a tape, I would leave it for a while and when I felt like it, I would pick it up and layer sounds randomly on top. With this, the tapes morphed into an object that collaged all of my experiences in a decontextualised manner. It would be difficult to call this music, but in this deep lustre, pieces of my memory were being recorded into this mass of sound that I had developed.
In 2000, I moved to New York City. There I would once again come across the work of Peter Beard; this time it was not in the form of a book. Time Is Always Now was a retrospective consisting of the collages that were in Diary blown up and displayed in a massive loft in SoHo. Beard, who had by then been severely injured by an elephant in Kenya, had also broken off his third marriage and was back living in New York. He rented a loft at 478 Broome Street, filled the gallery space with countless numbers of his pieces and presented it to the public. There was a cluster of massive photographs which seemed to reach for the ceiling, and diary notebooks displayed in glass cases. You could also find remnants of his daily life there. He himself created things there and the models who appeared in his photographs often loitered there too. He even displayed the body of a dead mouse that he claimed to have killed in the basement. I have been to many exhibitions in my life, but few that were as wet and grotesque with life as Beard’s Time Is Always Now. I frequented this place until it closed down – I think in 2002.
Truth is, though I am labelled a musician, my musical influences are few and far between and I pull most of my ideas from other media. One of the reasons I moved to New York was because it was where the artists – whether from the past or in the present – with whom I felt a certain commonality seemed to live. I repeatedly watched the films of Harry Smith, Jack Smith and Joseph Cornell at theatres like Anthology Film Archives and MoMA. I now work with artists such as Ken Jacobs and Michael Snow. The amount that I inherited from the avant gardes in this city is immense.
When I perform with my field recordings, I edit the sound as I would images. To a small or large extent, there must be some influence from the accumulated experiences of having my body touch the movie seats that have, over time, soaked in the mixture of image and sound. They say there are many ways to approach sound. So, my way may be all right after all.
Translated by Aiko Masubuchi
2 / 2013
Aki Onda & Paul Clipson
I'm excited to perform with a San Fransisco based filmmaker Paul Clipson. This is the final installment for New Vision Artist-in-Residence at ISSUE Project Room. Watch a video HERE.
Aki Onda & Paul Clipson
Saturday, February 23, 2013
4 and 8 pm
155 Freeman, New York, USA
Free! ($10 suggested donation)
Cassette musician Aki Onda collaborates with a San Fransisco based filmmaker Paul Clipson for his final performance of the 2012 Artist-in-Residence series. Onda and Clipson render images and sounds as if a fragmented journey of landscapes and memories. They investigate personal, intuitive spaces, through their favored technologies of Super 8mm film and cassette Walkman. Both artists place significant emphasis on performance environments, where their visual and sonic field recordings interact to create sensory collages, born out of the subjective impressions of the audience.
2 / 2013
A LOT Going On This Month...
I collaborated with a visual artist Raha Raissnia for her new installation at the International Contemporary Art Fair ARCO, presented by Galeria Marta Cervera, in Madrid from February 13 - 17.
I composed music for a Belgium filmmaker Antje Van Wichelen's new film Lost & Found (see picture above). The film will be premiered at Ateliers Mommen, organizaed by KVS, in Brussels from February 23 - March 3.
My new composition is featured in the Quiet Place project, curated by David Blamey, at Electris Spring Festival in Huddersfield, UK from February 20 - 24. You can listen to the tracks HERE.
In Paris, Collectif MU is presenting a weekly program at Gaité Lyrique this month. You can listen to my composition, made originally for Nuit Blanche during a residency at Collectif MU in 2005 HERE.
I contributed to the March issue of The Wire due out around mid February. My piece is about collage works of Peter Beard for The Inner Sleeve.
Also, Bomb magazine will run a feature about my work, written by Micheal Snow, in their Spring issue coming out soon.
1 / 2013
Watch "As If Someone Erased Outlines" Video Online
You can watch a video of my collboration with visual artist Raha Raissnia HERE.
Raha Raissnia and Aki Onda
"As If Someone Erased Outlines"
October 20, 2012
The Emily Harvey Foundation, NYC
Organized by ISSUE Project Room
Onda and Raissnia, and guest musician Doron Sadja, perform with black oil paintings, film and slide projectors, tape recorders and tube amps and synthesizer. Projecting 16mm footage with 35mm slides onto dark surface of oil paintings, Raissnia creates a deepened sense of immersion in an alien landscape, while Onda's soundscape of field recordings challenges the boundaries of the picture plane, and explore the power of imagination.
12 / 2012
South of The Border
Aki Onda "South of The Border" Cassette Memories Vol.3 was released by Important Records in December 2012. You can purchase at Important Records' website or online stores.
South of The Border is the third installment of my Cassette Memories album series. All field recordings were taped in Mexico, a country I’ve had a special fondness for since I was a little child. My first memory was watching photographs and Super-8 films my father shot in Mexico City from his time there during the 1968 Summer Olympics, where he competed as a member of the Japanese national hockey team. It made me realize there is a place completely different from Japan, and I started dreaming about "another world.” When I was a teenager, I encountered Alejandro Jodorowsky's seminal film El Topo, which shocked me with its surreal images and strong mysticism. That experience shaped my primal image of the country, although I wasn't sure if it was true reality or pure imagination. Finally, I made my first visit to Mexico in 2005. I was amazed that everything was as I had envisioned. Mexico embraces extreme wealth and poverty, highly contemporary and primitive lifestyles, intellect and superstition, and any sort of polarities all in one. Somehow, in this chaos, the boundary between reality and imagination disappears. In this way, everything is possible, and that’s what I believe.
Technical notes: I had three cassette walkmans to make field recordings while I was traveling in Mexico. Two became broken due to tape head and motor wear, but I continued using them. Some of the beautifully messed-up sound collages you will hear were produced accidentally due to the imperfect condition of the recorders.
Additional notes: The first and second Cassette Memories albums, Ancient & Modern and Bon Voyage!, were both released in 2003.
12 / 2012
South of The Border - The Wire Review
Text by Joseph Stannard, The Wire 347, January 2013
As a child, Aki Onda was shown Super 8 footage of Mexico by his father, who was there as a member of the Japanese hockey team during the 1968 Olympics. This kicked off Onda's lifelong fascination for the country. Later on, a viewing Alejandro Jodorowsky's mystic Western El Topo added further fuel to his fantasies. The third volume of his Cassette Memories series is comprised of recordings he made in Mexico using three cassette Walkmans. Two of these ceased to function properly along the way. Nevertheless, he continued to use them for their intended purpose.
The implications of this decision are obvious and fascinating. Field recording is seldom a simple act of documentation - it inevitably involves elements of improvisation, processing and editing. But here, Onda presents us with a reality further modified by the functional quirks of the machines themselves. The title of the series therefore takes on an added significance: these memories are flawed, damaged, semi-present beyond even the usual limitations of the format. Onda must surely wonder, then, what was his motivation in continuing to use broken recording equipment?
It seems likely that Onda realized that he had chanced upon a way to recreate his private, mystic Mexico while employing fragments of the real thing. This methodology allows us to share a subjectivity which encompasses not only memory and lived experience but also preconception. It's highly effective, but it isn't always pretty. For instance, the marching band that opens "The Sun Clings To The Earth And There Is No Darkness" is gradually overwhelmed by the massed chirrups of a vast flock of birds. It's a violent, disturbing sound, gaining in density until it begins to overload the listener's head, blocking out rational thought. Which is apt, as rational thought would appear to be the last thing on Onda's mind. Taking cues from Jodorowsky while demonstrating awareness of his own outsider status, he consciously locates himself in the role of magic realist amid a landscape heavily foreshadowed by dreams. In his hands, therefore, the cassette recorder - becomes shamanic tool for the manifestation of other realities.
12 / 2012
South of The Border - The Liminal Review
You can find a review for my latest album "South of the Border" written by Christopher Olsen. Click HERE.
12 / 2012
Ken Jacobs and Aki Onda: Two Artists Light the Way Into the Mind
The Wall Street Journal's Andy Beta interviews Ken Jacobs and Aki Onda in anticipation of "Nervous Magic Lantern", a duo performance that receives its US premiere on December 12, 2012 as part of ISSUE's Artist-In-Residence program.
Text by Andy Beta and photo by Philip Montgomery, The Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2012.
One of the trailblazers of American avant-garde cinema, Brooklyn-born filmmaker Ken Jacobs has worked alongside a half-century's worth of groundbreaking film artists, often investigating the act of seeing itself. His "Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son," from 1969, took a one-reel film dating from 1905 and deconstructed it by slowing it down frame-by-frame to reveal, with extreme close-ups, the heart of all film—the play of light and shadow before our eyes.
Mr. Jacobs's famous two-projector set-up, deemed the "Nervous System," showed two prints of the same film, one slightly out of synch with the other, allowing him to "play with the films like taffy, getting all sorts of strange things to be seen."
On Wednesday night at the Abrons Arts Center, Mr. Jacobs will deploy another of his cinematic concoctions, the Nervous Magic Lantern, in a live performance with the avant-garde musician and tape composer Aki Onda. Where the original magic lantern was a light-projecting device dating to the 17th century, Mr. Jacobs's version plays with the very concept of vision, using a flickering light source to reveal a veritable Rorschach of light and dark, with the audience left to decide what it has witnessed.
With music composed by Mr. Onda, the Nervous Magic Lantern will submerge spectators in a hallucinatory environment of "rotating landscapes, resembling volcanic glass, desolate craters or glacial gorges."
Messrs. Jacobs and Onda spoke with The Wall Street Journal this week at the New Museum about their first stateside collaboration. Mr. Onda brought two handheld tape recorders to record the conversation, and Mr. Jacobs used a 3D digital camera to snap pictures of our photographer.
How did you discover the Nervous Magic Lantern?
Mr. Jacobs: I stumbled upon the Nervous Magic Lantern. It's my invention and none of it makes sense. You can't theorize your way through it. These things that I couldn't plan on happened. I had to listen to my dreams to reach that point.
How does it work?
It has a spinning shutter, which creates a flicker of light, not unlike a Dream Machine. I don't know what the flicker does to our brains, but it does something. As science learns more about the brain, maybe they'll eventually be able to explain what the effect is, but I'm not interested in the science of it; I'm only interested in the experiential aspect of it.
Mr. Onda, what was your first experience with the device?
Mr. Onda: Ken showed me the Nervous Magic Lantern at his loft. The flicker itself has a history in experimental cinema, like in Tony Conrad's 1965 structuralist film classic, "The Flicker" [made up of alternating black and clear film leader]. But it's very different from that. It's more poetic. Even though there is only light, there's no concrete visual image, it still suggests something, some ghostlike illusions. You see "something," but each person sees different visual patterns.
Mr. Jacobs: It's actually really good capitalism, because you can charge people admission to see the contents of their own mind.
Mr. Onda, how did your sound projects find their way to Mr. Jacobs?
Mr. Onda: The reason I came to New York, in the 1990s, wasn't because of music, but because of film. I started watching avant garde films in Japan back in the '80s, but in New York there was Jonas Mekas, Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger. And I knew there was much more here. I started coming to New York in 1994 and I spent much time at Anthology [Film Archives], watching films. In 2004, I was performing in Argos Festival in Brussels and they showed "Star Spangled to Death," Ken's seven-hour film. It's about Ken's individual history and concurrently about American history, and there's almost no borderline between the personal and the social. That's what struck me the most—the film as an act of memory.
Mr. Jacobs: I liked Aki Onda's approach to music because it's of the world, with these everyday sounds he captures on cassette and plays back in a live context.
Mr. Onda: Sounds should be about daily life. With my music, it's cinema for the ear. And what's interesting to me about Ken's Nervous Magic Lantern is that they are abstract images but somehow, you see all these ghostlike illusions in his projections.
Mr. Jacobs: Playing live, I don't attempt to illustrate the sounds he's creating. It's this abstract imagery and these personal sounds captured on tape and together they form this odd juncture with each other.
Mr. Jacobs, some of your previous film work is overtly political, while other works are abstract. Has your perception of art changed over the decades? Can it still affect social change?
Mr. Jacobs: My art reflects on the society only so much as it disdains society's values. It's not interested in them. I am interested in light, space, time, the 'real' material of art. I would be happy just to work on those elements, discovering more things about light, more things about space. With the Nervous Magic Lantern, it's political in the sense that it doesn't reach for the prizes. Understand, in the 1950s, we were living under tremendous threat of the Cold War and you had to be stupid to not have mindfulness of what was happening in your real life, not just what we were trying to attain with art.
3 / 11 / 2012
Nervous Magic Lantern
I'm excited to perform with Ken Jacobs "Nervous Magic Lantern" at Abrons Arts Center's historic and gorgeous Playhouse Theater in my residency for ISSUE. Ken will create hallucinatory abstract images projected to screen utilizing his self-constructed "lantern" with slides and I will play field recordings of everyday life through a multichannel surround sound system installed in the theater. This will be the first time Ken and I perform in New York after our collaborations at Bozar in Brussels in 2007 and the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2009. I'm sure it will be a spacial occasion!
Live projections: Ken & Flo Jacobs
Sounds: Aki Onda
Wed, December 12, 2012 - 8:00pm
Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand Street, NYC
The Nervous Magic Lantern unravels an unexpected film before our eyes, without actors, without a plot, without celluloid or video. Through pre-cinematographic techniques, an illusory dream world is created, where the spectator is immersed in alienating, rotating landscapes, resembling volcanic glass, desolate craters or glacial gorges. The result is a hallucinatory three-dimensional watching experience, in which impossible phenomena and non-existing locations come to life in the projected dimension between the screen and the gaze of the spectator, like an innuendo of abstract shapes.
12 / 2012
I contributed sound to a video installation of Paris based visual artist Maxime Rossi. You can watch HERE.
The video installation is featured in a group exhibition at Galarie Alain Gutharc in Paris from December 8, 2012 - January 5, 2013.
3 / 11 / 2012
In Amsterdam, there is one evening installation of my composition at Sly Prop Otter on November 24. This piece was made based on a short story, "Araby," in James Joyce's "Dubliners." They made a nice website. Click HERE.
November 24, 2012
9 pm - 12 midnight
Sly Prop Otter at Spuistraat 199, 1012VN Amsterdam
Opening reception, 9 pm
9 / 11 / 2012
Akio Suzuki Interview by Aki Onda
I talked with Akio Suzki about his life and art. Click HERE to read.
Drawing by Akio Suzuki
1 / 11 / 2012
Voices and Echoes The Wire Review
Written by Kurt Gottschalk in the December 2012 Issue of the WIRE on Voices and Echoes in New York, September 28 & 29. Click HERE to read.
8 / 10 / 2012
Voices and Echoes Tour Diary
Akio Suzuki, Gozo Yoshimasu, Otomo Yoshihide and Aki Onda
Portland - Valencia - Vacouver - Houston - New York, September 15 - 28, 2012
Photos by Maki Kaoru and Aki Onda
2 / 7 / 2012
Voices and Echoes
ISSUE Project Room presents
"Voices and Echoes"
Akio Suzuki, Gozo Yoshimasu and Otomo Yoshihide
Curated and co-organized by Aki Onda
"Voices and Echoes," presented by ISSUE Project Room in collaboration with curator Aki Onda, is a landmark tour of pioneering Japanese artists renowned for their unique, interdisciplinary approaches to sound-based practices: Akio Suzuki, Gozo Yoshimasu, and Otomo Yoshihide. The performances will span a wide array of artistic disciplines including literature, sound art, conceptual performance, and improvisation— all converging around a theme of highly personalized, experimental approaches to sound perception, production, and presentation.
Sound artist Akio Suzuki will perform on a range of unique instruments including an ancient stone flute (Iwabue) passed down through his family for many generations, and Analapos— an instrument he invented in the 1970s that creates echoes through the acoustic transmissions of a spiral cord stretched between two metal cylinders.
Experimental poet Gozo Yoshimasu will perform works utilizing his unique "vocalization" style of recitation, which relies upon a highly rhythmic delivery and intense vocal modulations. Yoshimasu will perform in collaboration with Otomo Yoshihide, an experimental guitarist/turntablist and leading international figure in the fields of contemporary noise and improv.
While Gozo Yoshimasu and Akio Suzuki— seminal figures in the fields of Japanese literature and sound art, respectively— have garnered acclaim throughout Japan and Europe, their work is largely unknown in North America. Akio Suzuki has not performed in North American since a NYC performance in 1983, and Gozo Yoshimasu has never given a public performance in the United States, outside of small readings in universities and galleries.
Voices and Echoes Tour Dates:
9.16 - PICA's Time-Based Art Festival, Portland
9.20 - The Wild Beast, CalArts, LA
9.22 - Vancouver New Music, Vancouver
9.25 - Nameless Sound, Houston
9.27 + 28 - ISSUE Project Room, NYC with additional artists to be announced soon
gozoCine: Films by Gozo Yoshimasu
Sunday, September 30, 2012 – 7:00pm
at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, NYC
Akio Suzuki solo exhibition "stone"
October 13 – November 11, 2012
at Audio Visual Arts, 34 East 1st Street, NYC
2 / 7 / 2012
The Moon & Stars Can Be Yours
6 / 27 / 2012
Aki Onda Cassette Memories in La Goutte d'Or
Organized by Birdcage and Collectif MU
Juee 2, 2012
Photos by Sandrine Marc
1 / 6 / 2012
Love is Essentiel
Click here to read a review of La Goutte d'Or performance written by Antoine Bertin.
20 / 5 / 2012
Cassette Memories in La Goutte d'Or
Aki Onda Cassette Memories soundwalk
La Goutte d'Or, Paris
Saturday, June 2, 2012, 17:30
Aki Onda, who is known for his Cassette Memories project, will present a soundwalk in La Goutte d'Or neighborhood on June 2nd, 2012, as part of MU*X #5 (the 10 years celebration evening of Collectif MU).
Starting at 17:30 at MU's garage (12, Rue d'Oran, 75018 Paris), the artist and audience will walk around the area together.
The event will operate on the concept of a 90-minute audioscopic experience provided by Onda as he performs at several locations in La Goutte d'Or, with field recordings drawn from his personal archives.
The work is part of a site-specific performance series commissioned by Birdcage, which started in 2011 as the performance at the Cour Carrée of the Louvre. Aki Onda is a recipient of International Residencies Program, City of Paris / Institut français at Récollets.
The soundwalk is for a limited audience. RSVP at <email@example.com> by June 2, 12:00.
18 / 5 / 2012
Aki Onda interview
Cassette Memories project
By Daniele Balit (Birdcage sound gallery)
Balit: What are your thoughts about locations you visited in Paris such as the Parc des Buttes Chaumont and the Court Carrée at the Louvre?
Onda: The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is a very interesting place. I had heard about the Petite Ceinture - an abandoned railway tunnel that used be a part of the circle line of Paris, and went to the park to find an access to it. I was amazed by the rich landscape of the park. There were a small lake, rocky mountains, gardens, forest, and an intriguing juxtaposition of natural and man-made structures, like scattered buildings or monuments. I learned that historically, Buttes Chaumont used be an execution ground and a garbage dump, and it was rebuilt into a park by Napoleon III in the 19th century. Perhaps this historical complexity adds an unusual texture to the landscape. When I visited the Petite Ceinture and walked into the tunnel, I started to play my cassette sounds through a small portable amp. I was immediately struck by the strange resounding echo of the tunnel, somehow very spooky. It is a completely forgotten place, and the echoes resonate exactly like that! After the tunnel, I walked up to the Temple of Sybil on top of a rock mountain, and it sounded completely different within the acoustics of a stone kiosk, in the open air. The wide view, and sound, of the city of Paris below was lovely. I wanted to mix my sounds together with that rich ambient sound.
The Court Carré at the Louvre is one of my favorite places in Paris. It's unusual to see such a wide open space in this crowded central area of the city. The acoustics are really special. I'm not sure if the square was designed for this, but the space transmits sound easily and spreads it vastly. The architecture itself works as a sort of an amplifier. If you hear a violinist playing on one side of the large square, you can hear it at the other side. I prefer to go there in the evening, when the buildings around the square are lit up, and the noises of the city calm down. You can hear subtle noises – foot steps of a passersby, their conversations, the sounds of the water fountain create this kind of dreamy atmosphere.
Balit: The preparation for this Cassettes Memories project has implicated selecting a suitable location. What makes you decide if a location is suitable and what type of parameters you focus your attention ? (acoustics, symbolical, etc... )
Onda: I like haunted spaces, that's one key point. When I visit a location, I basically make the decision if it’s suitable for a performance intuitively. Then, I’ll do some research afterward and check the historical background, architecture and acoustics of the location.
Balit: What kind of use you make of the portable battery amp?
Onda: Using a portable battery powered amp gives me the flexibility to immediately modify acoustics by changing the position and direction of the sound source within the dimensions of the space. This flexibility is not possible with fixed speakers. If I move around in the space with the amp, I hear the same sound source as it drastically changes with different echo and reverberation. And sometimes I find a dead spot that mutes all reflections of the sound.
Balit: William Burroughs saw the potentiality of portable tape recorders as locational tools and suggested to use them as sonic weapons to break the associational lines of our experienced reality... Does a small and portable amp like the one you tested open new territories for your practice?
Onda: When I started using a portable cassette recorder back in the late eighties, it surely changed my practice. It was a revelation to me. But the portable amp, which I only began using last year, has not made as profound an impact. Now I can move around freely in a performance space with the amp, and I don’t need to stand up in the same position all the time, and that’s an important shift. But, I would modestly say that it added a new colour in my sound palette.
I was a big fan of Burroughs' work when I was a teenager and read all of his books translated into Japanese. So when I started using a cassette Walkman, I had Burroughs' and Gysin's cut-up technique in my mind. If you listen to my first ever made cassette in Morocco back in 1988, its influence is obvious. However the process of developing my cassette work is more focused on the notion of ‘keeping a diary’.
Conceptually, a portable cassette recorder, to me a Sony Walkman, is a tool for keeping a diary. I was a photographer before becoming a composer/musician, and I was taking snap shots of my daily life. What I’m doing with a Walkman is basically the same. In a sense, Cassette Memories could have been realized by using a different medium like photography, film, or text. It happened to be sound.
Balit: Can you describe the kind of "landscapes" you're trying to build through these site specific interventions ? What type of processes between the visual and the aural are in play ? In which way this social/public space outside of a venue important for you?
Onda: It’s a strange ritual. I try to both extract and abstract the essence of memory by playing my field recordings, so to speak my personal memories, at a location that is also saturated with its own memories. It’s invisible, but you would feel that live memories awake sleeping memories.
It’s not just “soundscape” of memories, but also “landscape” as you can visualize the location and it would affect your perception of hearing very much. It’s constant inspiration to me that sound and vision are so inextricably linked, and that they affect each other organically.
I can see endless possibilities with site-specific performances "outside" conventional venues these days, and I'd love to explore more. Each location has a very different historical background, architectural design and acoustics, and each performance could be very different from the others. To be honest, I'm becoming almost bored with playing at concert halls and clubs. In traditional venues, sound is very much controlled because of sound systems, on and off-stage mixing, and the architecture of the spaces. If it's a classical music hall, it is believed to be designed for acoustic instruments, but really only for Western instruments. The frequency spectrum of my cassettes contains rich noises and overtones, more like African or Asian instruments. When I amplify my cassette sounds on stage in a classical music hall, I often hear some overtones disappearing because of that beautiful echo and reverberation which basically compliments the frequency range of classical instruments. But to me, a rock venue is worse. Many rock venues have almost dead acoustics, and audiences only hear the sound pushed through a speaker system. I mainly use old vintage amps that spread sound in wider directions, like wrapping the space in a blanket of sound softly, so I would prefer to perform in a room that features rich acoustics. I often feel that the sound of those speakers in a club are too unidirectional and heavily occupy the space. They are aggressive. Of course there are many different types of venues. But most of the venues I’ve performed in are designed and built by these stereotypical principals. Not just the sound, but the stage and the audience are separated from each other, and reactions to each other are somewhat restricted. The visual element is often controlled too much. Audiences watch musicians singing or playing instruments, there might be some actions and visual elements, but I'd like to have a room for unexpected happenings. I need a greater sense of freedom.
Balit: Is the "location hunting" something that enriches your practice or is it a purely practical phase? Is the fact of choosing the place a key factor?
Onda: Location hunting – or, walking around a city and seeking out locations for performance, is an important part of my practice. Maybe it has something to do with my childhood experience. I grew up in Nara, which was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. Nara is filled with historic temples, shrines and the ancient tombs of emperors or aristocrats. Some are preserved, but others were ruined and hidden beneath the ground. You don't see them, but you can feel some sort of strong energy when you walk through these places. There were hundreds of these sacred places around the area where my family lived. I used to walk around and hunt for power spots. I became quite skilled at finding relics like fragments of a broken vase, arrowheads, etc. which were buried in the ground with a corpse of an aristocrat. I was collecting those treasure troves. In a sense, the location hunting that I practice now is born from that same childhood desire to explore energy fields, only now I’m using sound to map those fields. It’s an archaeological dig for the memory spots of a city.
4 / 20 / 2012
I'm going to livescore for "Earth" by a Singapore based visual artist/film director Ho Tzu Nyen at Bad Bonn Kilbi Festival in Switzerland on May 31, 2012. The film is like a staged canvas put into motion picture that features a post-apocalyptical scene with dead bodies strewn around a rubbish dump. The images are gorgeous.
4 / 03 / 2012
Palais de Tokyo
Palais de Tokyo in Paris renovated and expanded, and became the largest contemporary art center in Europe. It now occupies the four floors and entire building. They throw a re-opening event which will stay open for a consecutive 30 hours on April 12–13, with a program of performances and some 50 site-specific installations. I'm going to do four site-specific performances (two in the afternoon and two in the evening) at four different rooms on Friday, April 13. Find me there in the massive building!
Thursday, April 12 (20.00) - Friday, April 13 (24.00)
With: Lucas Abela / Christine Angot / Oliver Beer / Fouad Bouchoucha / Xavier Boussiron & Sophie Perez / Eglé Budvytyté / Christophe & Daniel Buren / B.Y.O.B. / Claude Cattelain / La Chatte / François Curlet / Laurent Derobert & l'ESAA / L’Encyclopédie de la parole / Arnaud Fleurent Didier / Gloria Friedmann / Alexis Guillier / Matthew Herbert / Honk Kong Police Terroriste Organisation / Alain Kremski / Joris Lacoste / Monte Laster / Ange Leccia / Jacques Lizène / Christian Marclay & Phil Minton / Jonas Mekas / Donatienne Michel-Dansac / Gwenaël Morin / My Little Dead Dick / Hajnal Nemeth / Aki Onda / Aude Picault & Winter Family / Barbara Polla / Maxime Rossi & Ivan Bacciocchi / Olivier Saillard / Benjamin Seror / Noé Soulier / SPAMM / Urban Mobs / Daan Vandewalle / Helga Wretman
3 / 3 / 2012
1 / 10 / 2012
Michael Snow, ALan Licht, Aki Onda Cafe Oto Session
Back in November 2011, I improvised with Michael and Alan in a two day residency at Cafe OTO as part of the London International Festival of Exploratory Music (LIFEM). You can take a look a short video clip here.
Video by Gianmarco Del Re
12 / 14 / 2011
B.P.S.22, Charleroi, November 25, 2011
Photo by Maki Kaoru
12 / 15 / 2011
Aki Onda "Diary" & "First Thought Best Thought" - Musicworks Review
Musicworks, Canada, 2012
Text by Chris Kennedy
Cassette tapes have been one of the more unlikely sound devices to have a resurgence in popularity these last few years. Vinyl can at least by claim to high sound fidelity, but what's the motive for making space on the shelf for a new wave of cassette releases—let alone for digging out the old Sony Walkman that has been lying dormant for almost a decade?
One artist for whom a cassette-only release seems most appropriate is Aki Onda, who has been recording and performing with audiocassette tapes for over twenty years. A new CD of his Cassette Memories project will be released in late 2012 on Important Records, but in the meantime, these two tapes serve as a lovely retrospective of Onda's work.
Diary pairs a cassette with a small book that reproduces forty life-size photographs of a selection of the cassettes Onda uses in performance. To look at the book is both to enjoy the various manufactured styles of tapes and to see how Onda has personalized and coded them for his own purposes. Onda fans will enjoy reading the short descriptions on the labels and puzzling out the cryptic code that he has developed, using circle-shaped stickers. The cassette features two different beach recordings—one at night and one during the day—so you can flip through the book to the sound of crashing waves.
The second release, First Thought Best Thought, gives good reason to consider dusting off the Walkman. A direct copy of the only surviving tape of the first three cassettes he ever recorded, the release documents a trip to Morocco in 1988. The audio is a document of two discoveries—the aural excitement the young traveller found in Marrakech and Tangiers and the new technology he was adapting into a musical instrument. The wealth of Moroccan musical culture that Onda records is collaged into a constant series of sonic fits and jolts, simultaneously developing a unique style and giving the listener a raw sense of the stimulation Onda encountered throughout his journey.
11 / 30 / 2011
I am happy to announce two new releases this month - "Diary" on a Brooklyn based label Unframed and "First Thought Best Thought" on Cassauna, cassette editions of Important Records.
Aki Onda "Diary"
"Diary" is a pocket size book featuring 41 one-to-one color reproductions of my cassette collection, a short essay by myself narrating my long relationship with audio cassettes, and a real C-60 Compact Cassette of my field recordings: a beautiful multiple in a 300 limited, numbered edition.
The multiple is produced by Gill Arno. You can purchase a copy at Unframed.
This is my first-ever cassette recording, made in Morocco in December 1988. I was living in Brixton, South London at that time and bought a Sony Walkman at a market before leaving for Morocco. As soon as I arrived in Marrakech, I was fascinated by the city's exotic soundscape and wanted to record it since I had the brand new toy. My ears were also attracted by Moroccan traditional and modern pop music, which you could hear through radios, and street musicians playing. I remember music was everywhere in Moroccan people's lives.
Then, I traveled to Tangier by bus. I wanted to go there because I was attracted by the history of bohemian life of the city - Paul & Jane Bowles, William S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Allen Ginsberg and Francis Bacon. I was twenty-one years old. Just dreaming and longing for that sort of life myself.
I recorded total three tapes during my visit to Morocco. However, I lost one of those and another one broke a long time ago. This is the only cassette recording that survived until now.
More info at Important Records / Cassauna's website. Please email to <firstname.lastname@example.org> and order a copy. The first edition is sold-out, but the label will make the second edition soon.
11 / 30 / 2011
I'm showing my cassette collection at B.P.S. 22, Charleroi, Belgium from November 26th to December 18th.
10 / 30 / 2011
A Different Sort of Value
A digital portrait magazine "The Avant/Garde Diaries" features my cassette work, discussed with the curator of Opalnest, Helen Homan Wu.
8 / 26 / 2011
"Diary" Launch at Printed Matter
Printed Matter, Inc.
195 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
8 / 25 /2011
A Brooklyn based label Northern Spy will be releasing a compilation "Clandestine Cassette Series # Two" featuring tape music of Aki Onda, Nonhorse, Bonnie Jones and Jason Lescaleet. The release date will be on October 11th.
In the time between the cassette’s heyday as a miracle that made music portable and its demise and subsequent resurgence, a number of sound artists have taken to it as a new means of production. Much like the way hip-hop DJs turned the vinyl record from a storage tool to a production tool, the artists on Northern Spy’s second Clandestine Cassette use magnetic tape as a pliable medium for storing and altering sound. Author, journalist and WFMU personality Kurt Gottschalk invited four sound artists making beautiful transmutations from the medium to contribute tracks to the cassette compilation. It’s tapes of tapes. Tape on tape. The sound of sound. Music as sculpture. Prerecorded and magnetic. Get two so you’ll have one to manipulate yourself.
Aki Onda - Mute Sphere
Nonhorse- Neversink Frogteeth
Bonnie Jones - Autumn to Autumn
Jason Lescaleet - Connecticut Ductwork
8 / 20 /2011
Dossier Journal is showing my photos here.
6 / 27 / 2011
Aki Onda Cassette Memories at Cour Carrée of Louvre Museum
Organized by Birdcage
Nuit des Musées May 14, 2011
Photo by Sandrine Marc
Curator: Daniele Balit (Birdcage)
Supported by the Dena Foundation for Contemporary Art
Collaboration with the Louvre Contemporary Art Program
6 / 20 / 2011
Radio Waves in the Air
You can listen to an almost Fluxus like piece I composed for Roulette's EASY NOT EASY Festival in 2010 here. Using the idea of "simple scores" as a starting point, Roulette asked artists to compose a piece which is "easy but not easy" to play. At the performance, I was crawling along on the floor in the audience area with a hand-held radio amplified. Four musicians placed at the four corners - Katherine Young, Shahzad Ismaily, Richard Garet and Maria Chavez were responding to my sound from the radio.
The EASY NOT EASY festival was to help raise money and awareness for Roulette as they were moving to an incredible Art Deco theater in Downtown Brooklyn. Read more here.
4 / 2 / 2011
Enjoy the videos of my duo with Jean-François Pauvros at Flux Jazz. The concert was at Halle St Pierre in Paris on November 21, 2010.
Photo by Maki Kaoru
2 / 14 / 2011
1 / 12 / 2011
Last month, I was traveling in Morocco again 22 years later I first visited there.
1 / 1 / 2011
That's how I started the new year - The fire puja at John Giorno's loft on Bowery Street.
10 / 30 / 2010
By Daisuke Wakabayashi
The cassette Walkman, Sony Corp.’s most iconic product and perhaps the most well-known Japanese consumer electronics gadget ever, is set to disappear from store shelves in Japan with barely a goodbye. Since its debut in July 1979, the Walkman has changed how people listen to music. No longer were people tethered to the home or car stereo, they could rock out with those big foamy headphones wherever they pleased.
Earlier this year, Sony decided to halt domestic shipments of new tape Walkmans - the brand lives on with Sony’s current digital music players using flash memory. The company made no formal announcement, except to attach a brief statement on the Walkman’s home page saying “production finished.” Once the current inventory runs out, Sony says the cassette Walkman will disappear altogether in Japan although other tape players and recorders will remain.
It’s a subdued farewell at home for a product that has sold about 220 million units over its lifetime and put the company on the global map as an innovator. Perhaps there was no raucous send-off in Japan, because the Walkman has come to symbolize, fairly or unfairly, how Sony relinquished its portable music player lead to Apple Inc.’s iPod on its ways to taking a backseat to Steve Job’s seemingly endless string of hits. The iPod would popularize the iTunes digital music and video store, eventually opening the door to the iPhone and now the iPad.
Sony says it will continue to sell the product overseas especially in Asia and Middle East where tape Walkman demand is not “totally zero,” according to a company spokeswoman. Sony says production of the cassette Walkman is outsourced to a Chinese contract manufacturer, which means pulling the plug all together eventually will be fairly easy. The last new tape Walkman model came out in 2008 and a new one can be bought for about 4,000 yen ($49).
To be sure, most consumer electronics products disappear with barely a whimper. After all, there is a reason why the company is giving up on the business. However, one can not help but think the Walkman and its incredible success deserved more than a gadget’s equivalent of a gold watch and a pat on the back. If 1980s fashion items like leggings can have a second moment in the sun, then is it far-fetched to imagine a revival of the cassette Walkman?
Here’s a historical equivalent: Vinyl record players were once left for dead, but now record players with a USB connection - an interesting blend of the analogue and digital worlds - are hot sellers at electronics stores. A quick search on the Internet unearths a small but loyal contingent of cassette lovers - just the type of audience who may clamor for a return of the tape Walkman.
Wall Street Journal, Oct 25, 2010
10 / 19 / 2010
I'm going to perform at Nam June Paik Art Center in the suburb of Seoul, South Korea on October 29th & 30th. This is the first time I perform in South Korea. Other than two performances, I am showing Cinemage installation.
10 / 15 / 2010
Photo by Soleil Garneau
Photos from the performance with MV Carbon at ISSUE on September 17. Our next performance will be at Roulette in New York on November 4.
9 / 1 / 2010
Dutch magazine Gonzo (Circus) runs 5 pages' feature about my work in their latest issue (#98, August 2010). Text by Robert Muis and photos by Maki Kaoru. I remember that I discussed with the writer about my nomadic life, cassette collection, love for films and moving images and so on in Rotterdam on a rainy spring day earlier this year.
8 / 27 / 2010
A link to steal music. Don't say anything.
7 / 15 / 2010
Photo by Luca Ghedini
5 / 26 / 2010
Subterranean Space Music
You can listen to my duo with Margarida Garcia at below links.
Marc Weidenbaum of Disquiet wrote... "The duo of Margarida Garcia, on electric double bass, and Aki Onda, on a small set of electronics, produce subterranean space music. Her amplified cello saws deep, thick drones while Onda wrestles with intangible static and, at times, wrangles snippets of vocals captured thanks to technologically enabled eavesdropping. Garcia and Onda are heard here in a live performance recently held at Fotofono, an art space in Brooklyn, New York.
According to a brief descriptive note at the Fotofono website, Onda’s tool set consisted of “one tube amp, a delay pedal and a hand-held radio.” The result of his inventive machinations might be likened to ghostly appearances, but why limit oneself to the unknowable, to the mystical, to superstition? The bits of radio noise seem all the more trenchant when thought of as just that: windows to the sound and signals that hover all around us, all the time. Garcia’s cello roots the performance in the earthy world, while Onda plucks his source material from the aether."
4 / 16 / 2010
I will be showing a sound installation in a forthcoming group exhibition in London this spring.
May 28 – July 18, 2010
Dead Fingers Talk: The Tape Experiments of William S. Burroughs
IMT Gallery, London, UK
Dead Fingers Talk presents two unreleased tape experiments by William Burroughs from the mid 1960s alongside responses by 23 artists, musicians, writers, composers and curators. The exhibition includes work by Alma/Joe Ambrose, Steve Aylett, Alex Baker & Kit Poulson, Lawrence English, The Human Separation, Riccardo Iacono, Anthony Joseph, Cathy Lane, Eduardo Navas, Negativland, o.blaat, Aki Onda, Jörg Piringer, Plastique Fantastique, Simon Ruben White, Giorgio Sadotti, Scanner, Terre Thaemlitz, Thomson & Craighead, Laureana Toledo and Ultra-red, with performances by Ascsoms and Solina Hi-Fi.
2 / 14 / 2010
2 / 1 / 2010
11 / 20 / 2009
The Wire feature download
You can download The Wire feature about my work, published in September 2009 here.
11 / 18 / 2009
Send + Receive 10 Years of Sound
I contributed a full album length piece to send + receive’s 10th Anniversary audio + video DVD set. This is documentation of my Cassette Memories performance at Send + Receive in Winnipeg in 2005. I edited 42 minutes piece from 4 hours of recording.
send + receive’s 10th Anniversary audio + video DVD set features performances of David Grubbs, Lee Ranaldo & Dean Roberts, Martin Tétreault, Oren Ambarchi, Oval, Taylor Deupree and others. The set contains over 11 hours of audio, a beautiful booklet and a feature length documentary!
11 / 16 / 2009
Suzanne Fiol Memorial at St. Ann's Church, Brooklyn
It was a very moving and beautiful memorial yesterday. Suzanne has gone. But, her sprit and love will always be with us.
You can read more here, and here.
8 / 17 / 2009
Aki Onda is featured in The Wire
I’m happy to let you know that The Wire runs six pages feature about my work in their September 2009 issue. The feature, which is written by Clive Bell, discusses my projects Cassette Memories and Cinemage, as well as collaborations with other musicians. It also reveals about my childhood memories.
Also, you can see an exclusive video of my solo performance at The Wire’s website. The footage was filmed by French filmmaker Vincent Voillat (Collectif MU) at the European Sound Delta / Ososphère in Strasbourg in 2008. I played in a boat cruising on a river at that time.
8 / 1 / 2009
Some media mentions recently...
I contributed a text about my Cinemage project for NY Arts Summer 2009 issue. The article is nicely printed with a 2 pages’ size photo. You can peak at their online version here.
Here’s my funny interview on RUIS magazine in Ghent, Belgium. Download the article here. The interview was translated into Dutch. So I added the original English version on the last page.
Autumn Leaves: Sound and the Environment in Artistic Practice edited by Angus Carlyle, and published by CRiSAP in UK, has won the Qwartz Electronic Music Compilation Award few months ago. The book seeks to draw together a number of different perspectives on how the environment is made audible through sound. It’s indeed a good book. I contributed a diary which I wrote in 2004 and still photo images of my Cinemage project. Download the article here.
4 / 13 / 2009
Alan Licht and I will be touring in Europe this spring. We released duo album "Everydays" on Family Vineyard last year. And, this will be our first Europe tour since then.
Alan Licht & Aki Onda Europe Tour 2009
April 25 ZDB, Lisbon, Portugal
May 1 Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon 2009, Ulrichsberg, Austria
May 2 No-D, Prague, Czech Republic
May 5 Alchemia (trio with Noël Akchoté), Krakow, Poland
May 8 Ausland, Berlin, Germany
May 9 WORM, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
May 13 Cave 12, Geneve, Switzerland
May 14 Le 102, Grenoble, France
May 15 Instants Chavires, Paris, France
May 16 Rencontres Musiques Electroacoustiques / Forum de la Madeleine, Chartres, France
May 17 Cinema Nova, Brussels, Belgium
May 22 Culture Lab, Newcastle University (organized by No-fi), Newcastle, UK
May 23 s51 factory (organized by Sottovoce / No-signal), London, UK
3 / 20 / 2009
As a recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) grant, I will be performing cassette music, followed by a discussion about my sound diary and relationship between music and memory moderated by Alan Licht.
Aki Onda is a 2008 Artists' Fellowship recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). This presentation is co-sponsored by Artists & Audiences Exchange, a public program of NYFA. This presentation is co-organized with Paris London West Nile.
12 / 12 / 2008
I'm happy to announce the new CD of Michael Snow, Alan Licht and Aki Onda trio on a Canadian label, Victo. We have been performing together since 2005, and this is our first album. It features two exquisite live recordings from our concerts at Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville in 2007 and the Goethe-Institut in Toronto in 2005. The beautiful artwork is by Michael Snow.
Michael Snow / Alan Licht / Aki Onda "Five A’s, Two C’s, One D, One E, Two H’s, Three I’s, One K, Three L’s, One M, Three N’s, Two O’s, One S, One T, One W"
"The trio's hour-long performance, while not its first, found them still very much in exploratory territory, looking for ways to shape sounds ranging from spare and atmospheric to dense and industrial. While there was little relationship to the familiar, the set had its own form, even if suggestive of a relentless barrage of sound. Snow, at various points, put a portable radio up to a microphone, broadcasting whatever he happened to find, including a radio announcer discussing a festival taking place in Victoriaville. Like many other moments during this often intense spatial-temporal audioscape, serendipity reigned --the postmodern self-referentiality of the radio announcement being a prime example. But perhaps what made the set so interesting was, above all, the audience' awareness that many of the sounds being produced by Snow, Licht and Onda were as new to the artists as to the audience. Improvisation as texture, not as rhythm, melody or fixed form." --John Kelman, All About Jazz, Victoriaville May 18, 2007.
11 / 13 / 2008
I'm showing Cinemage project in European countries this fall and winter.
November 14 Cinemage with Noël Akchoté in AURORA, Norwich, UK
November 29 Cinemage with Jean-François Pauvros in Cimatics in Brussels, Belgium
December 4 Cinemage with Noël Akchoté and Jean-François Pauvros at Foundation Cartier in Paris, France
January 23 Cinemage with Noël Akchoté in International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands
March 1 Cinemage with Noël Akchoté and Jean-François Pauvros in at La Casa Encendida Cultural Centre, Madrid, Spain
4 / 29 / 2008
Alan and I have been performing as duo since 2002. Finally, our debut album will be released by Family Vineyard (worldwide) and Headz (Japan only)! We'll be touring in Europe and UK in May 2009.
Alan Licht & Aki Onda “Everydays”
Debut collaboration of New York artists and long-time duo partners Alan Licht and Aki Onda, whose combined history connects artists straddling the pop and experimental worlds, including Loren Connors, Takemura Nobukazu, Lee Ranaldo, and Toriko Nujiko.
In the past decade their montage-inspired solo work -- Licht's permutational guitar and tape pieces on Rabbi Sky and A New York Minute, Onda's field recording recontextualizations on Bon Voyage! and Ancient & Modern -- has co-existed with their experimental sound / visual projects Text of Light (Licht) and Cinemage (Onda).
Everydays is five grandly formed soundscapes that mix Onda's poetic/textural cassette sounds and the rhythmic/lyrical pull of Licht's guitar. Morphing from recognizable structures to dissonant hammered chunks and rapid cut-ups, the album perfectly weaves their signature applications of sound diaries, minimalism, grainy fidelity, looping and free blues into a dynamic and ambitious statement.
4 / 1 / 2008
Last year, a New York based filmmaker Ken Jacobs and I collaborated in Brussels. Now, the documentation is up online.
Ken Jacobs & Aki Onda “Nervous Magic Lantern” Performance
Bozar (co-organized by Argos), Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2007