Licht-Akiyama Trios

Tomorrow Outside Tomorrow

by John Garratt

12 April 2016

How many experimental guitarists does it take to change a light bulb? I don't know, ask the cornet player.
 
cover art

Licht-Akiyama Trios

Tomorrow Outside Tomorrow

(Editions Mego)
US: 1 Apr 2016
UK: 1 Apr 2016

Alan Licht and Tetuzi Akiyama are two guitarists who would rather let their instruments play themselves. Wandering among the open-ended fields of “experimental” music scenes in America and Japan respectively, Licht and Akiyama have now joined forces to work as a “trio”. No, this isn’t like Denison and Kimball where the word “trio” is just a joke. The third personnel slot for the Licht-Akiyama Trios goes to a musically like-minded guest, one for each track on their bizarre Editions Mego release Tomorrow Outside Tomorrow. The album only has two tracks, so if Licht and Akiyama have anyone else in mind with whom to make noise, it will have to wait for a future release.

Track one, named “Blues Deceiver”, is probably the least-bluesiest music to ever exist. Just over 20 minutes in length and featuring a whopping three guitars plus electronics, it is far and away more sound than song. Australian avant-garde guitarist Oren Ambarchi throws his six-string squalls into the pit, galvanizing the already compromising sound that Licht and Akiyama create with buzzes, glitches, and feedback. Dynamically, “Blues Deceiver” will once in a while approach a low boil. Rather than leap out of the water to devour you, this track bides its time by slowly swimming around just below the surface. It’s safe to say that this is more likely to scare the hell out of you.

The title track is the album’s shortest track—at 18:51. Here, the sound experiences sharper contrasting levels between silence and noise. Chicago cornetist and all-around superground leader Rob Mazurek plays some surprisingly melodic patterns (somebody has to, I suppose) with just enough echo to make his cracked notes sounds just as artful as Miles Davis’s. As the bed that Licht and Akiyama provide becomes more and more fractured, Mazurek makes “Tomorrow Outside Tomorrow” more and more his own. Once in a while, he tightens his lips for some high-pitched squeals that are almost kin to the duo’s guitar racket, but such moments are the exception for Mazurek. He’s here to remind avant-garde’s detractors that such music has more to offer than just mindless noise. He even closes out the track with a solitary, mezzo-piano note.

But if you are not one of said detractors, then you don’t really need a beacon of light like Mazurek to guide you through both sides of Tomorrow Outside Tomorrow. Licht-Akiyama Trios represent that thorny crossroad in modern music where avant-garde jazz and minimal electronic music collided and collapsed into a mechanical heap. So if that’s the place where you are able to center your mind, then by all means let Tomorrow Outside Tomorrow drone you away. Otherwise, conservatively-minded listeners, even those appreciate of the Chicago Underground, will find their patience considerably tested.

Tomorrow Outside Tomorrow

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