On Cassette Memories - Lawrence English
I first heard Aki Onda’s work in the early 00s. It was first introduced to me by my friend DJ Olive who was involved in the Phenomena Audio Arts and Multiples label alongside Toshio Kajiwara. Ancient And Modern, the first in the series of Cassette Memories works, was a dynamic, playful collection of textured recordings. Onda crafted a series of pieces that launched off from a kind of devolved musique concréte, seeking to dwell on the materialist structures of the sounds he encountered and the medium through which he encountered them. Moreover Ancient and Modern set out the framework for how subsequent volumes would evolve and specifically how he would seek to mediate the relation between sound, tape and memory.
That same year, Bon Voyage! arrived on the excellent Improvised Music From Japan label (which to this day was responsible for some of the most challenging and rewarding music emanating from Japan at the beginning of the new century). In contrast to Ancient and Modern, this edition sought to allow the recordings to ’speak for themselves’. The field recordings gathered unfolded with a sense of intention and at times provocation, prompting the listener to forgo expectation in favour of being present to the moment (and the medium).
South Of The Border, the third volume in the series arrived in 2012 and again refined the focus of the project. This time Onda selected work that was threaded together by geography, place and situation.
Across these volumes, Aki Onda has charted what is now a significant body of sound. Sitting within a conceptual field that is bordered by Musique Concréte, field recording, experimental sound practices and listening more broadly, the Cassette Memories series is without question one of Onda’s most important statements. It is made available here in conjunction with the publication of a book that includes a series of new texts and images that outline the approaches and concepts guiding the work.
released February 14, 2020
Composed by Aki Onda
All field recordings were taped in Mexico
Recorded at Fotòfono, Brooklyn, New York
Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Studios, New York
Original artwork by Meeuw and collaged by Aki Onda
Cover image: King Palenque's Jade Mask (photographer unknown)
Originally released by Important Records in 2012
Thanks to Gill Arnò