Oren Ambarchi - In the Pendulum's Embrace
Southern Lord Keith Boyd 11.7.07
Like the dandelion puffball so beautifully gracing its cover, Oren Ambarchi's new album is both a wonderfully complex and fragile piece of genius. The tonal palette Ambarchi has developed over many fine releases is here utilized to show its strengths and versatility. Thick (yet quiet) pulses blip in and out like quarks in a physics lab. A clean low-end rumble fills the background with menacing presence while various hums, crackles and trills float and mingle through the mix.
Oren Ambarchi is an electronic guitarist and percussionist. Born in Sydney in 1969, he has been performing live since 1986. His work focuses mainly on the exploration of the guitar, "re-routing the instrument into a zone of alien abstraction where it's no longer easily identifiable as itself. Instead, it's a laboratory for extended sonic investigation". (THE WIRE, UK ). Ambarchi is also co-organizer of the "What Is Music?" festival, Australia 's premier showcase of local and international experimental music. In more recent years he has been collaborating with Ambient- Drone-Metal experts SunnO))). His contributions to the SunnO))) sound have served to broaden and deepen its' range. Even more recently he has participated in two side projects with the members of SunnO))); Grave Temple (with Stephen O'Malley) and Burial Chamber Trio (with Greg Anderson). While his side-projects may invoke the harsh and dirge like, his own music tends towards the introspective and meditative. It is however a meditation soaked through with tension and activity. These traits are in ample evidence on his new release.
A key component of the music is the unhurried way in which Ambarchi lets ideas develop - or maybe 'unfold' is the more appropriate word; listening to the end results can induce similar emotions to watching time-delay footage of flowers blooming; there is an irresistible logic and inevitability to the process. The music sounds unforced and natural, giving it a soothing sense of calm. Opting this time to supplement his use of guitar with other instruments (piano, bells, glass harmonica and strings to name a few) Ambarchi manages to process them all into serving his vision and therefore they sound organic to his approach rather just being add-ons.
With just three tracks, between ten and eighteen minutes long, sufficient time is allowed for the pieces to evolve, with plenty of (looped) repetition. However, Ambarchi has the knack of knowing when to move on, so that the repetition never risks becoming tedious; on the contrary, one is more likely to be left wanting more. That is certainly the case with the final track, "Trailing Moss in Mystic Glow"; its acoustic guitar and wordless vocals sound like some mutant descendant of the blues, but the track ends too abruptly, bringing the album to a rather unsatisfactory conclusion - indeed, the only thing about the album that is unsatisfactory.