artist: Aki Onda with Loren Connors & Alan Licht
title: Lost City
released: 2015


A. Lost City #1 (23:19)
B. Lost City #2 (18:28)

Release Date: April, 2015
Limited edition of 350 copies

audioMER is happy to announce the release of a new LP; Lost City by Aki Onda (US/JP) with music by Loren Connors (US) and Alan Licht (US).

The images were shot in New York between 2001 and 2002. It was during the time when we were still in shock from 9.11. The stars and stripes suddenly became visible everywhere in the city. Soon after, the invasion of Afghanistan started. Everybody was living under an indefinable fear - not knowing what would happen in the future. (Aki Onda).

Lost City project started as a series of photographs shot by visual artist and composer Aki Onda in New York starting right after 9.11 in 2001. A decisively introspective response to the major world event taking place, his pictures were devoid of direct references, but documented  his immediate surroundings, focusing on how what happened resonated on a personal micro-level.
Since 2005, Onda has been presenting this series as slide projections, which function as a visual score for improvisation, and performing with NYC avant-garde musicians Loren Connors and Alan Licht. Two improvisations on this LP were recorded at Anthology Film Archives in NYC in 2007.
Lost City contains the vinyl, a folded 20 x 30 inch poster with the complete photograph series and an A4 risoprinted booklet containing the accompanying text written by NYC based curator/writer Niels Van Tomme.
The record's A side is a duo piece between Connors and Licht that consists of wandering, buzzing guitar drones with occasional noisy eruptions. It highlights the almost twin-like connection between the longtime collaborators, with telepathic intersecting guitar lines and a sense of unease seeping through. The B side is Connors solo and is a very lyrical and atmospheric ambient piece that is equally sparse and spacious. The LP is limited to 350 copies and distributed by N.E.W.S.

Aki Onda is an electronic musician, composer, and visual artist. He is particularly known for his Cassette Memories project – works compiled from a “sound diary” of field-recordings collected by Onda over a span of two decades. Onda’s musical instrument of choice is the cassette Walkman. Not only does he capture field recordings with the Walkman, he also physically manipulates multiple Walkmans with electronics in his performances. In another of his projects, Cinemage, Onda shows slide projections of still photo images, shot by himself, as a performance or installation. Onda often works in interdisciplinary fields and collaborates with filmmakers and visual artists. His on-going collaborations include “Nervous Magic Lantern” with Ken Jacobs, improv trio with Michael Snow and Alan Licht, site-specific happening with Akio Suzuki, and audio-visual installation/performance with Raha Raissnia.

Guitarist Loren Connors was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1949. Best known as a composer and improviser, Connors has issued over 50 guitar records on his own imprints (Daggett, St. Joan, Black Label) since the late 1970s and over two dozen on other labels across the globe. He has recorded under the names Guitar Roberts, Loren Mattei, Loren MazzaCane Connors and other variations. Connors' singular adapation of the blues is a distinct personal vision combining the Delta bottleneck sound and the ancestral blues voice (appearing as distortion, baying hounds or multi-tracked guitar), with hauntingly unexpected sounds. Outside of Connors' three decades of solo work, he has collaborated with Suzanne Langille, Jim O'Rourke, Darin Gray, Alan Licht, Christina Carter, Keiji Haino, San Agustin, Jandek and many others, as well as leading the group Haunted House. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Alan Licht is a guitarist and composer whose work merges minimalism, rock, free jazz, noise and improv. Since 1990, he has recorded and performed with a diverse array of musicians, including Jim O'Rourke, Phill Niblock,,  Arthur Lee, and Peter Brotzmann. He’s also collaborated with visual artists, such as Gary Panter and Charles Atlas. Licht is currently the lead guitarist of Lee Ranaldo and the Dust and one-third of the “talk rock” group Title TK. Several solo albums of his extended solo guitar pieces have appeared on labels like Siltbreeze, Family Vineyard, and Editions Mego. A frequent contributor to Artforum and other publications, Licht is also the author of Sound Art: Beyond Music Between Categories (Rizzoli, 2007) and the editor of Will Oldham on Bonnie Prince Billy (Faber & Faber/W.W. Norton, 2012).  He has also created many sound installations and curated exhibitions of sound art.

Technical information about this release can be found here


In Chris Marker’s La Jetée, still images accompany a spoken soundtrack, highlighting the way that people perceive moments in isolation even though they are part of an endless flow of time.  The effect of this technique was not lost on Aki Onda, whose work with photographs and cassette tapes of field recording made on his journeys around the world considers the meaning of frozen pieces of pasts by sharing them with strangers in distantly removed places and times.
Onda moved to New York not long before the towers came down on 9/11/01 and this process became a way to manage both the collective trauma he witnessed around him and the fulminating fear and jingoism that followed it. The result is Lost City, a series of images that he showed by screen projection with accompaniment by guitarists Loren Connors and Alan Licht. The effect of filtering the grain of black and white film through the projection process corresponds to the sounds they selected and they way they are registered on this LP, which constitutes a physical documentation of the project. The LP’s packaging is elaborate, with the record, a big foldout poster of Onda’s pictures, and a pamphlet all encased in a heavy plastic sleeve; it’s a hefty thing, game to defy the cold facts of impermanence.
Onda chose well when he elected Loren Connors to soundtrack Lost City. Connors has spent a quarter century incorporating loss and memory into his art. He has composed odes to long-dead icons and paved-over New York neighborhoods, and on a more personal level his playing is an ongoing document of his quarter-century long task of living with Parkinson’s disease. The recordings, one a duet with the indefatigable Licht from 2007 and the other a solo from 2005, include coughs and shuffling that betray the situation of the microphone nearer to the audience than the guitar amps. What you get is a magnification of distant sound, grainy and flicking, much like the projections of Onda’s photos must have appeared. Reverberation, room sound, and silence all bleed together with the stark notes, feedback groans, and suspended chords. On the duo side, the music is violent, full of jagged curves and explosions. The presence of such events within the murky entirety of the music corresponds to the unavoidability of trauma in life. – Bill Meyer (Dusted, May 2015)

The Wire
Lost City began for Aki Onda in the wake of 9/11. A year or so earlier, the Japanese conceptual artist had relocated to New York and found himself cast in the emotional and physical wreckage of that profound act of terrorism. He began documenting everyday objects and events, framing his own life – as he has done through his numerous Fluxusinspired projects – in hope of liberating himself from the fear that came not only from the original attack but also from the jingoistic rhetoric uttered by US politicians across the spectrum. These images are relatively quotidian, documenting buildings, goldfish and people in intimate settings (some nude, some not) and purposefully avoiding any the physical scars from 9/11, with a sense of unease only visible in a few of those portraits. Since 2002, Onda has presented these images as a time-based piece through slide projection that also served as the graphical composition to be followed by the stalwart New York City guitarists Loren Connors and Alan Licht, whose gritty, avant bluesy figures colour the imagery with their own emotional heaviness of loss, fear, memory and sadness (The Wire, May 2015)

Lovely "Art Record" -styled package; a giant 3' x 2' double-sided fold-out poster - detail in the third & fourth panels to your left; far too big to fit on the scanner - featuring a pair of visual artworks by Aki Onda, plus an LP of relatable musical materials by Loren Connors with & without Alan Licht; a duo side, then one solo. Has a certain "Broken Music" -leaning aesthetic to the presentation & general spec; the music's contemplation of heavy themes via twin/solo guitar interlock is meaningfully apropos. (Mimaroglu, April 2015)

Other Music
A solemn lost transmission from the depths of the NYC underground, this incredible, devastating, emotional set from the duo of Loren Connors and Alan Licht was recorded live in 2007 at Anthology Film Archives. Here, the two minimalist guitarists soundtracked a "visual score" presented by Aki Onda that was comprised entirely of photographs taken soon after the September 11th attacks in New York City. Highly regarded for their collaborative ingenuity, the music is vast and smoky with Connors pulling long sustained strokes over Licht's plaintive strums. A heavy atmosphere invades the sonic landscape at times, with rumbling drones drowning the sound. The flip side features a meditative Connors solo exploration.
The vinyl is accompanied by a folded 20 x 30 inch poster of the complete photograph series and an A4 risoprinted booklet containing the accompanying text written by NYC-based curator/writer (and Other Music Update contributor) Niels Van Tomme. Limited to 350 copies.
[RN], Review Other Music, May 2015

Sly Vinyl
There’s a pre 9/11 world and a post 9/11 world. Aki Onda’s Lost City is an examination of the post 9/11 world we live in. Onda started his Lost City project right after 9/11 – a day that will live in infamy for years to come. With the enlistment of Loren Connors (who I wrote about rather recently) and Alan Licht, Onda’s pictures are accompanied with music that’s desolate and saturated with grief. Do you absolutely need the pictures to enjoy the music? Not necessarily, but if you watch that slideshow below on Vimeo it certainly adds to the experience. As it says in the Vimeo description, all the pictures you see were shot in between 2001 and 2002 when the wound was still fresh in New York. I was admittedly a bit too young at the time to understand the gravity of what transpired that day, but if anything catches the mood of what everybody else felt that day this is certainly it. Listen to Lost City via the Vimeo and SoundCloud players and see what you think of it. Cheers! - Cameron Hilliard (Sly vinyl), May 22

Review Enola, April 2015

Review Kindamuzik, April 2015

A Closer Listen Top Ten Experimental
Aki Onda is well known for his soundscapes exploring the limits of memory, utilizing unmarked cassette tapes recorded throughout his travels around the world. Here he does much the same but adopts the role of composer and conductor. Using a score comprised of photographs taken in the months after 9/11, Onda creates a score by which to direct improvisations, here enlisting fellow NYC avant-gardists Loren Connors and Alan Licht. The two engage in a duet across side A, while the flip-side features Connors solo. The treated guitar sounds are fa removed from the finds of sounds that Onda traditionally works with, but the ebb and flow is familiar. Recorded in 2007, the 8 year delay itself contributes a level of removal while still feeling cathartic. Unlike Onda’s unlabeled cassettes, the images that populate the accompanying videos function on a very different level of abstraction. Onda has often explored the relationship between specific places and the malleability, and fallibility, of memory, but in re-approaching the trauma of 9/11 and representing the feeling that overtook the city and the nation in the aftermath, Lost City is grounded in a way that makes it much more powerfully evocative. – Joseph Sannicandro, A Closer Listen, December 2015