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

New Keith Rowe and Sachiko M on Erstwhile Records

From Erstwhile Records:

Keith Rowe and Sachiko M are two of the most pivotal and crucial musicians in experimental music today. Contact marks their first meeting as a duo, consisting of their complete unedited sessions, both live and studio. Rowe and Sachiko have primarily travelled parallel paths over the last decade, occasionally intersecting. They both recorded crucial duo CDs with Toshi Nakamura in 2000-2001, first Sachiko with Do, then Keith soon after with Weather Sky. In 2004, they both took part in the 230 minute long quartet set documented on ErstLive 005, along with Nakamura and Otomo Yoshihide. In September 2008, Rowe played four sets in three nights in the AMPLIFY 2008: light festival in Tokyo. The festival marked Rowe’s fourth trip to Japan in his 40+ year career, and the primary purpose behind his visit was to record in duo for the first time with Sachiko. Contact contains the full unedited sessions from these two widely admired musicians who have deeply respected each other for the last decade.

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Sonomu Reviews

From Sonomu:

Vic Mars, Kanransha (Symbolic Interaction)
Kentaro Togawa of Yamanashi in Japan seems determined to introduce a whole new generation of electronica artists with many and varied talents. A double gatefold package entitled “Yaporigami: Sarya Sarva”, for instance, houses thirty cuts delivered by a new generation of upbeat, light and shiny… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 07:23, 12 Mar 2009

Disrupt, Foundation Bit (Jahtari/Werk)
My favourite new label. Launched originally as a strictly net label, Foundation Bit is the very first CD release for Jahtari. Disrupt is the secret dub identity of a new “great white hope” in the field of digital dub, Jan Gleichmar out of eastern Germany. His aptly-titled debut wears its digital… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 07:17, 12 Mar 2009

Activities of Dust, A New Mind (Adluna Records)
Activities of Dust is an ad-hoc supergroup which really only exists virtually. While leader Doug Scharin and Jeff Parker played their parts in the former´s studio in Illinois (from which the band takes its name), Bill Laswell and Bernie Worrell recorded their contributions in Laswell´s studio just… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 07:07, 12 Mar 2009

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