AMN Reviews: Anla Courtis & Tetuzi Akiyama – Naranja Songs [Public Eyesore pe127]

This set of four improvised acoustic guitar duets, recorded in 2008 in Buenos Aires, brings together Argentina’s Anla (Alan) Courtis and Japan’s Tetuzi Akiyama. Known for their versatility and diversity of approaches to improvisation—Akiyama is often associated with the constrained gesturalism of onkyo, although he also works in the noisier fields of blues-based rock and industrial sound, while Courtis has among many other things played heavy psychedelia with the band Reynols—both guitarists here work with the more-or-less conventional sounds available to the unadorned acoustic steel-string guitar.

Even given the relatively Spartan instrumentation, Courtis and Akiyama manage to explore a rich variety of sonic and harmonic material. The recording opens introspectively, its initial dissonances played out along well-spaced, lingering tones and chords slowly unraveling in a wash of minor seconds. As the set progresses the music shifts in tone and texture, with pulsing drones and scraped strings giving way to a kind of industrial pastorale embodied in arpeggios implying an alternation of minor and major thirds. Courtis and Akiyama bring things to an end with tentatively plucked chromatic patterns in broken phrases, and a tamboura-like buzz.

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