The intimacy of Tetuzi Akiyama’s Thaumaturgy is immense. In nine short through-composed pieces written over a ten-year period, Akiyama captures something melodic, simple, and utterly transfixing. In his first instrumental solo acoustic guitar record in more than a decade, Akiyama, widely known for his improvisatory collaborations as well as his hypnotizing boogie-drone guitar pieces, here works without effects and maintains a strict harmonic palette throughout. Every note is given ample space to ring out and decay, together slowly and deliberately building the frame that is to become the completed structure. The resulting atmosphere of his pared down grammar threads each individual track to the next as the songs work together with the gravity of a single object. In fact, one might think of each track like a room in a house.
The record, as its name hints, is suffused with phenomenological magic. The pieces function architecturally, in a Bachelardian sense, sheltering the daydreamer and encouraging charged stillness. The record envelops like a long-vacant shelter, made sacred by memory. Repeated motifs, like building blocks, waft through the air, exacting the psycho-durational and transportive power of a music box. And while, like a music box, the music lends itself to the tracing of inner landscapes, critical listening reveals that this is no mere background music. The acoustic field is richly ornamented with combination tones that are intensified by a pacing in step with Rothko-philes, Morton Feldman and Loren Connors.
While the enclosure of home serves for many as refuge from the world, Akiyama’s Thaumaturgy speaks to a basic drive for a sense of place in an epoch dominated by the disassociation of global nowhere-culture. The simplicity-bordering naivete of the pieces evokes a discomfiting nostalgia and melancholy pointing us home or, as Bachelard would suggest, to the “miniscule phenomenon of the shimmering consciousness.”