OREN AMBARCHI: Audience Of One (Touch)


Posted on Mar 6th 2012 11:43 pm

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Oren Ambarchi: Audience Of One

Audience Of One
Touch 2012
04 Tracks. 53mins54secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD Spotify: STRM

Looking back at Oren Ambarchi’s extraordinarily vast and varied body of work, it seems almost impossible to believe that he only began releasing music fourteen years ago. The list of his collaborations alone is impressive, counting the likes of Sunn O))), Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke, Keith Rowe or Keiji Haino amongst many others, and his own solo outputs, published primarily on Touch, constitutes a truly singular collection of experimental music even amongst his peers.

Released almost five years on from his last solo outing, In The Pendulum’s Embrace, Audience Of One may initially prove something of an intriguing release for the usually poised Australian as he lines up vocals and drum beats, and appears to almost do away with guitars altogether in parts of the record. Whilst announced as a four-part suite, this album really collects four radically different pieces, each recorded with a number of collaborators, and each defining a particular space.

The album opens on a rather soft note with the delicate sonic shimmers of Salt, but rapidly this set up is given an unusual layer with Warm Ghost’s Paul Duncan’s vocals, which, whilst gentle and emotionally charged, changes the aspect of the piece quite substantially. At just five and a half minutes, this is a surprisingly accessible moment of atmospheric pop (almost) for Ambarchi, who even adds strings later on. By contrast, Knots is a much more complex and sprawling affair. Led from the start by a sustained hi-hat motif, driven by drummer Joe Talia, with whom Ambarchi released an album on Touch last year, around which the piece slowly takes shape, this is a vast progressive experiment which takes some time to get in motion fully, and continues to morph all the way until it eventually collapses in a clatter of distorted electronics. During the piece’s slow progression, Ambarchi, who leads a formation of six here, deploys ever changing drone structures with at their core various strata composed of more or less saturated electric guitars, upon which are added strings or French horn segments. As the piece gains intensity, the saturated guitars become more prominent and compact, but almost two-third in, things seem to lighten up with a shift towards a string-led section. This is however short-lived as the track seemingly begins to implode as it is subjected to increasingly damaging blogs, until it eventually disintegrates entirely.

With Passage, Ambarchi, here accompanied of sound artist Crys Cole, Eyvind Kang on viola and piano and vocalist Jessika Kenney, returns to more familiar atmospheric grounds, although he favours Hammond organ and wine glasses to create a wonderfully warm and textured piece, only adding guitar motifs towards the end. Cole’s use of contact microphones adds a tiny touch of grit to an otherwise perfectly still and smooth piece. The album concludes with the rather nuanced pastoral cover of Ace Frehley’s Fractured Mirror. Ambarchi refrains from following the harder edge of the original’s second half, preserving instead the shimmering acoustic guitar motifs which defines the whole piece.

If Oren Ambarchi has for the most part relentlessly redefined his sound with his solo work, this latest excursion intends to take things into quite a different direction, or at least to show a wider scope. This somewhat radical shift however, once the moment of surprise passed, appears perfectly pertinent in the man’s cannon and could well signal the beginning of a new era in his work.


Oren Ambarchi | Touch
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD Spotify: STRM

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