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Akio Suzuki and Lawrence English - Boombana Echoes

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Artist: Akio Suzuki and Lawrence English

Album: Boombana Echoes

Label: Winds Measure

Review date: Aug. 5, 2013

I wouldn’t say that Lawrence English is a promiscuous collaborator, but he is exceedingly diverse in his choice of music-making partners. Anyone who can make sense working with electronician Domenico Sciajno, sound artist Francisco Lopez, and the wistful pop purveyors in Minamo, can lay claim to both diverse tastes and flexibility. Akio Suzuki has been around much longer and pursued many fewer alliances, but you couldn’t ask for a less imposing partner. He often uses quite simple sounds in ways that make the listener aware of what’s already there. Much of his work involves finding the sound-making potentials of things and places; you might have heard of his Resonant Spaces tour with saxophonist John Butcher, during which each man interacted with the spaces, stones, and wind currents of remote Scottish locations.

Just before Christmas 2005, Suzuki came to English’s hometown of Brisbane, Australia for a short residency. While there, they recorded in the nearby rainforest; subsequently they played together at a gallery, where English’s electronics stood in for the bush’s roaring insects. Suzuki played a self-devised instrument called an analapos, which looks like an extra-long slinky with cans at each end and either produces or facilitates a surprisingly broad array of metallic reports, amplified flexes, and distorted vocalizations. English pulled the recordings together after half a dozen years on ice, and the finished product is simultaneously beguiling and unimposing. The CD comes enclosed in a non-standard sized, die-cut white sleeve with the barest design pressed upon it; inside are cards that reproduce some of Suzuki’s whimsical drawings of places and cats. The record’s three tracks last just 20 minutes, time enough for a taste, and short enough to not wear out its welcome. It’s more than an amuse-bouche, but definitely not a main course — surely you have another record on hand that will do the trick if you need a belly-buster? English’s contributions — recordings of birdsong and wind, elongated electronic tones, subliminal textures — are so restrained that he could better be credited with atmospheres than instrumentation. Suzuki takes the foreground, issuing wordless vocals and metallic echoes that undulate across English’s sound fields like loose power lines humming in the wind. There’s an appealing just enough-ness about this record that feels like a lesson worth learning.

By Bill Meyer

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