AMN Reviews: Donald McPherson and Tetuzi Akiyama – The Kitchen Tapes Vol. 1 (2018; God in the Music)

If one could synthesize the murmurations of the common starling into sonic form, the resulting product would invariably sound similar to the twin guitar duo of late-Aotearoa / New Zealand artist Donald McPherson and Japanese improviser Tetuzi Akiyama. Consisting of three parts culled from a 2010 live performance in Christchuch, The Kitchen Tapes Vol. 1 features some enjoyable Akiyama and McPherson riffing, with the duo crafting sonic landscapes that evoke a gamut of emotions, from splendor to pathos.

The opening segment, Part One is the longest piece on the tape, clocking in at just over 19 minutes. The side features much of what you’d expect from the pair: the playing is both prodding and prodigious, yet the listener is spared the cloying blows of virtuosity and one-upsmanship. Instead, McPherson and Akiyama weave in and out of each other’s playing and remain content in their explorations of bucolic motifs that taper off as soon as a new thematic turn reveals itself. At times the guitars are cinematic and even orchestral (5:04); at other points, the pair’s playing is evocative of flamenco (11:58). In all, Part One possesses enough whimsy and a number of (very) high points that assuage any moments in the performance that may feel awkward or too tentative for some listeners. 

Part Two opens the second side and is most likely to elicit the John Fahey comparisons. While understandable to a degree, they ultimately miss the point and serve only as inchoate shorthand for those unwilling to settle in and listen to the unique artistic voices, nuance, and timbres that belong to Akiyama and McPherson, both individually and as combined as a unit. At times, a bit tedious; however, the duo never sound lost and retain their ability to engross the listener throughout. The closer, Part Three, is both the shortest cut on the album and its strongest piece by a mile. Reminiscent of Indian raga, Nick Drake, and even Neu!, the piece is vibrant and captivating and like the best of dreams, ends far too soon…

While the sparsity and relatively restrained dynamics on The Kitchen Tapes Vol. 1 may make it a bit more demanding than the pair’s 2006 Vinegar & Rum, this listener would argue the peaks surpass and outweigh any troughs from the moment you hit play on the deck. What’s more, not only does this release help mark the arrival of new End of the Alphabet / Astral Spirits collaborative spin off-imprint, God in the Music, it marks almost one year since McPherson’s death. What better way to remember the guitarist than to enjoy his collaborative work with his friend and kindred spirit Tetuzi Akiyama. 

– J. Sebastien Ericsson Saheb

AMN Reviews: Steve Ashby & Daniel Barbiero – The Elongated Path (2018; Impulsive Habitat)

Steve Ashby and Dan Barbiero* provide a multilayered ambient excursion in this concise release. Consisting of five tracks totaling 36 minutes, the duo explores outdoor soundscapes and atmospheres. Barbiero contributes bowed melodies and drones on his double bass. Never in a hurry to get anywhere, he makes use of space as a complementary force in his playing. Ashby focuses on providing field recordings, some more processed than others, and a small amount of guitar-work.

The album has a distinctive lo-fi feel that can be attributed to background noise or some degree of tape hiss. While most tracks feature Barbiero’s deliberately-paced melodies, others are closer to pure soundscapes with the bass just another source of abstract impressionism. Ashby makes heavy use of recordings of birdsong, and artfully interleaves them with percussive elements. These latter effects lead to the most compelling aspect of the album – a melancholic, but non-threatening, pastoralism that is both detail-oriented and non-intrusive.

* Barbiero writes for Avant Music News.

Chicago Scene: December 15-22, 2018

This is a weekly overview live avant performances in the Chicago area. Contact us if you’d like your shows listed.

Saturday, December 15th 2018

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($10)
Fred Jackson Jr Quartet with Corey Wilkes, Harrison Bankhead, Avreeayl Ra

9:00PM at the Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia, 773.227.4433 ($10)
Trio Mokili : Nathaniel Braddock, Makaya McCraven, Junius Paul

Sunday, December 16th 2018

2:00PM at the Green Mill, 4802 N Broadway, 773.878.5552 ($5) (wheelchair-accessible)
Terry Bartolotta Group, with Alex Beltran, Chris White, Joel Kelsey
Damon Short Quintet with Paul Hartsaw, Ryan Shultz, Tim Stine, Curt Bley

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont ($10 suggested donation) (wheelchair-accessible)
Joe McPhee, Dave Rempis, Tomeka Reid, Brandon Lopez, PN-L

Monday, December 17th 2018

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Edward Wilkerson Jr, Brian Sandstrom, Bill Harris

Friday, December 21st 2018

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15)
29th Annual Winter Solstice Concerts
Tatsu Aoki, Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang
Miyumi Project : Tatsu Aoki, Kioto Aoki, Eigen Aoki, Miyumi Aoki, Mwata Bowden, Ed Wilkerson Jr, with Hamid Drake, Michael Zerang

Saturday, December 22nd 2018

7:00PM-10:00PM at the Promontory, 5311 S Lake Park, 312.801.2100 ($27-$17)
Pocket Science : Kahil El’Zabar, Gary Bartz, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Robert Irving III

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15)
29th Annual Winter Solstice Concerts
SILT : Johanna Brock, Julie Pomerleau, Anton Hatwich, Jason Roebke, Michael Zerang
Hamid Drake with Mako Sica : Przemyslaw Krys Drazek, Brent J Fuscaldo, Chaetan Newell

For more information, such as directions, as well as upcoming performances, see:,,,,,,,,,,,

Coming to Areté 

Source: New York’s Areté Venue & Gallery.

Nate Wooley / Josh Sinton / William Lang
Will Lang’s Tuesday Night Mega Power Concerts
12/18/18, 7:00, 8:00 & 9:00 pm, each $10 at the door or $20 for all three sets
7 pm – Nate Wooley
8 pm – Josh Sinton
9 pm – loadbang solo portrait: William Lang
Come see three of New York’s most adventurous soloists share new material at Arete Tuesday, December 18th. At 7 pm Nate Wooley, trumpeter extrodaniare, will be presenting a new version of Coyote (Brooklyn 2018), while at 8 pm low reeds specialist Josh Sinton will be sharing his new show idbrule (for b.s). Stick around for a 9 pm set, loadbang presents: William Lang, featuring the adventurous quartet’s trombonist in solo works by Dai Fujikura, Thanos Chrysakis, Yu Kuwabara, and Klaus Hubner. $10 per set or $20 for all three.

Gabriel Zucker’s Weighting \\ Fay Victor + Val-Inc
12/19/18, 8pm & 9pm, $15
Fay Victor + Val-Inc – 8pm
Fay Victor is an improvising vocalist, composer, lyricist and educator riding all the chasms and seams of musics that are improvisational and conversational in nature.
Val-Inc (Val Jeanty) is a Haitian-born com- poser, percussionist and turntablist, who uses technology to lead listeners into her dreamlike expressionism of Afro-Electronica compositions.”
Gabriel Zucker’s Weighting – 9pm
Gabriel Zucker is a pianist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist from New York, whose work combines maximalist compositions with the progressive improvisation of New York’s creative music scene. Weighting, Zucker’s fourth studio album and second on ESP-Disk’, is an extended composition inspired by Rachel Kushner’s novel The Flamethrowers.
Gabriel Zucker – piano, compositions
Adam O’Farrill – trumpet
Eric Trudel – saxophone
Kate Gentile – drums

Fides Krucker and Tim Motzer
12/20/18, 8:30pm, $15 at the door
Duo with Toronto avant-garde opera vocalist Fides Krucker and guitarist Tim Motzer. This is a record release and first time performance in the US for this duo. Their forthcoming album is entitled Vanishing and is being released on 1k Recordings.

Techno Love activation with artist Cynthia Alberto
12/21/18, 7-8pm, free will donation
The Techno Love Series is inspired by the euphoric feeling of connecting with a community through music. It is comprised of 30 woven “cocoons” which are pieces of wearable art. This curatorial approach references Cynthia’s desire for her work to remain inclusive to all communities, rather than an untouchable object.

John Zorn Bagatelles Marathon July 11 in Paris

Source: A Selection of Outings.

This special show presents 14 different formations playing more than 50 pieces of Zorn’s expansive new book of music during a marathon concert of more than 6 hours! Between March and May 2015, famed saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and avant-garde producer John Zorn wrote 300 new compositions collected in a music book called The Bagatelles. The group includes close members of Zorn but also musicians from the worlds of jazz, rock, classical music.

With John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Marc Ribot, Craig Taborn, Mary Halvorson, John Medeski, Julian Lage, Kris Davis, Joey Baron, Peter Evans, Gyan Riley, Brian Marsella, Kenny Wollesen, Sylvie Courvoisier, Ikue Mori, Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander Greg Cohen and many more!

Cantata Profana Performs Works by Sciarrino, Ustvolskaya, Lucier, and Others, January 18 & 19

Source: Cantata Profana.

CANTATA PROFANA presents its most dramatic show to date, a slow burn of intensely transcendental old and new music performed on baroque and modern instruments:


Featuring rarely heard works by

St. Peter’s Church Chelsea
346 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011

Friday, January 18, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 8:00 p.m.


Alvin Lucier – Music for Piano with Amplified Sonorous Vessels
Daniel Schlosberg, piano

Tarquinio Merula – Canzonetta spirituale sopra alla nonna
Alice Teyssier, voice
Arash Noori, lute

Galina Ustvolskaya – Symphony No. 5 “Amen”
Jacob Ashworth, violin
Arthur Sato, oboe
Miki Sasaki, trumpet
John Altieri, tuba
Doug Perry, percussion
Gleb Kanasevich, speaker

Alessandro Piccinini – Toccata Cromatica for solo lute
Arash Noori, lute

Salvatore Sciarrino – Infinito Nero, an Ecstasy in One Act
Alice Teyssier, voice
Julia Glenn, violin
Carrie Frey, viola
Hannah Collins, cello
Jessica Han, flute
Arthur Sato, oboe
Gleb Kanasevich, clarinet
Doug Perry, percussion
Daniel Schlosberg, piano
Jacob Ashworth, conductor