Aki Onda piece I never finished because I lunched it.   Leave a comment

Dan Hayhurst asked me to do a thing on Aki Onda for a radio thing he was doing aaaages ago and I started it but did I finish it? The hell I did…


I first encountered the work of Japanese musician Aki Onda through an article about him in The Wire. There was a photo of him standing next to not one but two Line 6 DL4 looping pedals, and the text explained how he used these devices in conjunction with his own field recordings to create sound collages. As a musician who came of age at the dawn of the era of the sampler, I have an almost mystical devotion to the idea of the loop, and also a rather base fetish for loop pedals themselves. Indeed I had recently become the owner of a DL4 myself, and the idea that Onda was using raw audio data on cassette felt like some kind of remote endorsement of an aesthetic that i had long cherished. Thus Aki Onda began to stand for something in my mind even before i had heard his music. In fact, as I subsequently began to track down examples of his work, I found out that his stuff didn’t always sound like what I’d imagined, but in a sense, as I will try to explain, that fact is quite in keeping with some of Onda’s ideas. Furthermore, having been asked to research his work for the purposes of this radio program, I soon became aware of it’s depth, complexity and subtlety, and realized that the short space of time that I’ve been given to talk about him wouldn’t really do him justice. therefore what I hope to do is to give the breifest of overviews of Onda’s music, and to describe and perhaps pass on some of the enthusiasm that I expeienced when I first discovered it.
Aki Onda is a self-taught electronic musician, composer, producer, and photographer. After a varied and unusual childhood in which he studied painting, textiles and photography from an early age, he dropped out of formal education to become a photographer when he was 16 years old. His first assignment was to take photographs of musicians for magazines in Osaka and Kyoto. Through numerous photo shoots he became acquainted with many well-known musicians and decided to become a musician himself. He started making music with sampler and computer, and formed Audio Sports with Eye Yamatsuka and Nobukazu Takemura in Osaka in 1990. After releasing the group’s first album, Onda moved to Tokyo and established himself as a producer. He soon became a sought-after studio technician, because of his in-depth knowledge of music production. As a result, he was involved in nearly 100 projects in Japan while still in his twenties, and presumably could be a highly-respected and well-paid studio producer by now. Instead, after relocating first to London and then New York, he began to feel that memories of his past were beginning to have an influence on his present and future. As he himself puts it: “It’s strange that I had never looked back on my past when I was in my twenties. I was actually avoiding it. And, in the music world, I was trying to learn about producing, composing, engineering, even marketing as much as possible, to expand my knowledge about them and to develop my skills. But at some point, the importance and the achievement of the purposes ceased. My interest has shifted to the music itself, and to my own self. I rediscovered the experiences that I had in the past. Memories came back, and they were much richer than I thought…” Onda had bought a cassette walkman in 1988 and had been obsessively recording fragments from his personal life for seven or 8 years without having any kind of plan to do anything with them, but by the year 2000 he had started incorparting them into live performance. He found that “…something is revealed in their accumulation. Looking upon such accumulation, the particulars within them lose significance. Rather, it’s what begins to emerge from the glut of the accumulated–the architecture and essence of memory–that I am interested in. It is something from which concrete meaning has been stripped.”

Presume a chunk of that is plagarised from here and there but I don’t care if you don’t. Shame I never finished it because I recall Ondas ideas about memory being quite insightful and I dimly remember having sort of clever riff about my expectations of his music that I was going to try and work into my anaysis of his work. Ah, if only I could bring it to mind now…

Posted January 11, 2010 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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