Photo: Bryony McIntyre

Akio Suzuki & John Butcher

Lyness Oil Tank

This WWII oil tank hoves into view as you get off the ferry in Lyness, a massive 4 storey, 30m wide cylindrical steel construction with the most bizarre echo and reverberation. When we first visited I went to the middle of the space and shouted at the top of my voice. The echo boomed up and suddenly soared into the most deafening sound, almost like an airplane flying overhead: I was dumbfounded. Of course it turned out that an airplane had indeed just flown overhead, much to the amusement of the staff. Still, the 12 second decay, weird echoes and crazy focal points should make for a magical and special night.

Perhaps the most charming, engaging artist I’ve seen, Japanese musician and inventor, instrument builder and shaman Akio Suzuki is probably unknown to most of you. But we think his work is utterly captivating and crucial; it deserves a much bigger audience. Akio has been performing, teaching and building instruments for nearly 40 years. His music is simple and pure, and beautifully unworried by the rules of modern music. He explores nature and how its atmospheres and sounds can be harnessed and then set free, how you can lose yourself in the sound that surrounds us, and how musical creation and beauty exist in all things, in all moments.

 

“I think of Akio Suzuki as a kind of magician” David Toop

“Hearing this music, I remember many things, including playing in a puddle as a tiny kid” Yamatsuka Eye: Boredoms

 

I think John Butcher is the most exciting saxophone player in Europe today. Bent to his will, a saxophone can sound like almost anything. I’d swear that in his playing I’ve heard unbelievable sounds, far beyond any notion of traditional technique: the reverberation of dub like echo, gulps of breath and animal yelps, the clatter and noise of farm machinery or of skittering daisy wheel printers, that internal rush you hear when breathing in cold winter air, trilling gasps of birdcall or moaning train whistles, the far off call of steeple bells. The fact that this teeming and apparently limitless palette is balanced in a way that produces performances of both structure and unpredictability, and that they’re constantly so approachable and engaging is, to be honest, quite staggering.

 

Recordings of the performances from this tour have been released on FtarriConfront and Blume Records.