Alan Licht & Aki Onda: Everydays

[16 July 2008]

By Timothy Gabriele

The spatial dynamics on Everydays by sound sculptor Alan Licht and laptop composer/cassette manipulator Aki Onda’s are not unlike those Sun Ra home recordings in that they sound like they could have been recorded in a vacated studio apartment or an art gallery. But Everydays is a fantastically deliberate and textural album, one that makes magic out of murky mixing boards. 

Collaborations in the noise and experimental community are dime-a-dozen (throw a stick and you’ll likely hit one), but rarely do you find one as satiating as this one. Onda and Licht play to each other’s strengths with finely honed ears. Licht, often known for his sparse minimalist aesthetic, brings himself to the fore to handle the organics (moody and tempered Derek Bailey style guitars) while Onda handles the processed noises like tape loops, gradated drones, insectual squeaks, and sandpaper static. At times the two styles coalesce, trading places or engaging in some kind of frictional transference, but most moments find some kind of wonderfully symbiotic parallax. It’s a euphonic cacophony, a yin and yang type of thing, a full realization of what it means to duet. 

Actually, the opener “Tick Tock” is the work of a trio, crediting the third player as Manolo Martinez, who judging by his vocals and keyboard style couldn’t be a day over 12. I’m sure many critics of freeform music like this would love to interpret Martinez’s role on the album as proof of the genre’s juvenilia posing as academia. But if you can’t find the music, mystery, or beauty in an adolescent pounding on a keyboard as a peer to the sound of two atonal master maestros jamming harmoniously atop it, perhaps this is not the album for you.

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