Aki Onda

Cassette Memories Volume 3: South Of The Border


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South of The Border is the third installment of my Cassette Memories album series. All field recordings were taped in Mexico, a country I've had a special fondness for since I was a little child. My first memory was watching photographs and Super-8 films my father shot in Mexico City from his time there during the 1968 Summer Olympics, where he competed as a member of the Japanese national hockey team. It made me realize there is a place completely different from Japan, and I started dreaming about "another world." When I was a teenager, I encountered Alejandro Jodorowsky's seminal film El Topo, which shocked me with its surreal images and strong mysticism. That experience
shaped my primal image of the country, although I wasn't sure if it was true reality or pure imagination. Finally, I made my first visit to Mexico in 2005. I was amazed that everything was as I had envisioned. Mexico embraces extreme wealth and poverty, highly contemporary and primitive lifestyles, intellect and superstition, and any sort of polarities all in one. Somehow, in this chaos, the boundary between reality and imagination disappears. In this way, everything is possible, and that's what I believe.

Technical notes: I had three cassette walkmans to make field recordings while I was traveling in Mexico. Two became broken due to tape head and motor wear, but I continued using them. Some of the beautifully messed-up sound collages you will hear were produced accidentally due to the imperfect condition of the recorders.
Additional notes: The first and second Cassette Memories albums, Ancient & Modern and Bon Voyage!, were both released in 2003.


A Day of Pilgrimage
Bruise and Bite
The Sun Clings to the Earth and There Is No Darkness
I Tell a Story of Bodies That Change



In his hands, therefore, the cassette recorder - becomes shamanic tool for the manifestation of other realities. Wire

"Aki is more open and eloquent about his art than I could have possibly imagined, and though he shared a great deal, I've stopped the transcript at the point I turned my recorder off — for inside the hustle and bustle of a busy coffee house, Aki divulged a great deal about his artistic processes, his technique, his influences, and his live performance, all in a manner that was warm, friendly, and sincere. This is a man who is passionate about his recordings, and it's a privilege to present this interview for all that it is — a conversation about art." Tiny Mix Tapes interview

"Onda has taken great care with a bold and imaginative concept, assembling a beautifully emotive addition to his catalog, an embracing cinematic depth-charge that encapsulates the full scope of his potential within a tapestry of recordings that remain delicate and subtle,despite the aggressive sibilance each track is wrapped up in." Tiny Mix Tapes review

 The appeal of Aki Onda's work is in it's messiness. Listening is often discomfiting at the outset but its inherent materiality – that is to say, the warm touch of the cassette tape with its limitations and degradations all fuzzy, wobbly, hissy – give the work it's character, and similar to the haze of memory or flicker of old film reels and low frame rates, Onda's tape diaries have a certain heft.  Liminal

Indeed, a bit of the surrealism of Jodorowsky's work is apparent here, as the sounds we hear move slightly beyond the realm of recognition into a strange fever of memory. Music Works

Frankly, Onda's current work takes a notch up from his two previous volumes (which are more verite in nature and "composition") and one can sense the personal signature of Onda more foregrounded. This is a welcomed creative move which, if you are reading this, should indulge in, soon. Psychmetalfreak

 Sound Projector


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