This album is closer to the realms of experimental art music and serves to remind that New Zealand has a solid history in that area, dating from Douglas Lilburn's sonic experiements with electronics in the late Sixties, but more specifically the generations which followed and included the likes of John Cousins and, of course, From Scratch.
My guess is music of this kind is largely dismissed (if it's heard at all) by most right-thinking civilians but for my part the problem isn't that it refers to nothing outside of itself but that much of it is best appreciated in the moment. Recordings -- while utterly valid -- hardly convey the multi-sensory effect and frisson of the unexpected which happens when the music is being made.
This one however hurdles that with two pivotal pieces -- the brief After Half Life where Akiyama's detuned guitar invites intimacy as it constantly surprises (and alludes to traditonal Japanese koto and Korean gayageum tunings) and is in front of, and then with, percussive sounds. Then there is No Turning Back which follows where the ideas seem to be extended into a disconcerting piece of disembodied sounds (for which we perhaps credit McMillan).
By the time the following piece arrives -- the 12 minute Mirage -- you have been prepared for the experience, however it opens with somewhat piercing frequencies and it will be a hardy soul prepared to live with an effect resembling tinnitus who would persist. Hard to come back from that but the shorter pieces which follow (Akiyama again in introspective mode on Coloured Purple) are rather more inviting.
A difficult one but rewarding
released November 2, 2012
Tetuzi Akiyama - acoustic guitar
Phil Dadson - Sprong, Gloop, Piano
John Bell - vibraphone, percussion, piano frame
Andrew McMillan - live manipulation (5)