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Tetuzi Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura

Semi-Impressionism

(Spekk; US: 27 Oct 2009; UK: 27 Oct 2009)

Tetuzi Akiyama and Toshimaru Nakamura’s collection of three improvisations gets its title partly from an apparant caligraphy mistake, to give the word “semi”, meaning “cicadas”. The incessant buzzing of something you hear but don’t see is in some way the essence of the album, or rather that accompanied by minimalist guitar playing that itself can evoke the natural world at times. The guitar is Akiyama’s, as Nakamura is responsible for electronics that appear often as static, buzzes, or whirs. It’s hard to think about each of these as a “track”, per se, as they’re not monolithic. The sounds meander and cut off, disappear, and then roar loudly from the speakers.


About six minutes into the second track, the cicada-like buzzing gets so loud it’s disorienting, almost unbearable, while the guitar plays behind. The guitar is gentle, but to think of it that way is misleading. It’s either leading us the pain and mystery of noise, commenting on it from a distance, or is right with it, complicit. Acoustic guitar often leads to radio static; witness the joining of the natural and electric worlds. “#3” features a noise at first similar to hip-hop scratching, which soon seems like a random noise, an accident. The way it plays we imagine electronics as random sounds, everything as random sound; electronics as “nature sound”, everything as nature sound. We imagine a mutation of musical instrument to buzzsaw, a mutation of musical instrument to insect swarms, to invisible sound creature.

Rating:

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine ErasingClouds.com, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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