Improvised Music from Japan / Aki Onda / Articles & Reviews

Bon Voyage! (Cassette Memories Vol. 2)

by Joel Hanson

The latest diary of sound from self-proclaimed nomad Aki Onda is a collection of field recordings spanning 14 years of world travel. Forged from the sounds of everyday life, captured on cassette recorder and layered, Onda's "songs" are divorced from any specific moment in time but nevertheless contain and eerily familiar quality, like a protracted instance of deja vu. Birds sing to each other from treetops. Rain splatters rhythmically on a city sidewalk. Undeground trains roar angrily over their tracks. A seaside breeze swallows the fragile lament of a Moroccan child. Percussionists hammer Brazilian bongo beats while the listener paints mental pictures from a palette of unexpected memories. On "I'll Be Your Mirror" and "Goodbye," Onda mixes wind, water, and machines to create, as Onda himself writes, "a lucid moment when scenes witnessed before, sounds heard before, all seem to flash back in a single spectacle." There's room to roam in this music, as well as an opportunity for the seasoned traveler to rediscover the joy of feeling utterly lost in a foreign land.

Resonance, No. 42, 2004

Last updated: January 26, 2005