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Ryoko Akama/Anne-F Jacques, "Evaporation"

cover image Both Ryoko Akama and Anne-F Jacques have large discographies focusing on the creation of music with improvised and constructed devices based on everyday objects, so working together makes perfect sense. The two live collaborations Evaporation is comprised of feature the duo blending the methodologies of live performance and art installation, with the self-guiding objects manipulated in real time as the two move about the performance space while adjusting the objects and mixing the sound. The resulting recordings are two unique, yet complementary long-form works that, while difficult at times, are captivating throughout.


Recorded at two consecutive performances during the duo’s Winter 2018 tour, there are notable similarities, as well as differences, between the two pieces.Both are of equal length and using many of the same home-built idiosyncratic instruments, but the performance and the interactions of the two artists differ greatly.The combination works since there is a clear cohesion from one half of the tape to the other via the mechanical sound generators, but it is the human element that creates the most distinct variations.

The New York performance comes across as the more structured and composed one.After a brief passage of incidental "warming up" noises, looped almost-scraping like bits lead off, paired with the ringing of what sounds to be miniature bells or chimes.The source of these sounds is anything but clear, but they link together in their own sense of rhythm.Other elements are blended in by the duo, including additional ringing bells and a crackling/rattling bit that almost resembles popcorn or bubble wrap.Once electronic tonal sounds are blended in, including a rather harsh alarm tone; things turn towards darker spaces before drifting off.

Comparably, the Boston performance has a slower start, with an extended bit of object clattering and movement before the work begins properly.When it does, there is a notable amount of what sounds like equipment rolling around and an overall a looser feel to the performance.The approximated rhythms and repetition are not quite as prominent, and instead there is a greater presence of chaos.Random instrument sounds seem to pop up all around, and the whole piece feels more incidental than planned.The alarm type tone from the New York performance is here and pushed to the front, and the sharp, shrill character gives the whole piece a slightly more confrontational edge.

Home built devices and electronic experimentation may not make for the easiest of listening experiences, but Ryoko Ayama and Anne-F Jacques combine these two elements in an especially compelling way.I was most fascinated by the distinctly different character between the two performances despite them being only around 24 hours removed from one another.The first half captures the structured approach and the musicality of their distinctly un-musical instrumentation, while the second comes across less about composition and more about the full exploration of sound.The two performances complement each other perfectly and paired together makes for a fascinating, if occasionally challenging, tape.

Samples Available Here.