Monday, October 03, 2005

Oren Ambarchi "Triste" review

as published in the October issue of the Ann Arbor Paper

In the 17th century, people weren’t ready to buy into Galileo’s claim that the earth revolved around the sun. Likewise, the masses won’t be clamoring to purchase Oren Armbachi’s CD reissue of “Triste” . You won’t hear it blaring from a sorority girl’s SUV at a red light or on the latest episode of the OC, but just wait a couple centuries or so and it will probably sound contemporary. The sounds encoded on this little plastic disc are very futuristic. Originally available on a long out of print vinyl LP, Southern Lord records has reissued it in CD form and sweetened the pot with some new remixes. An Australian native who has collaborated with a diverse cross section of musicians including avant garde jazz artists John Zorn and Otomo Yoshihide, as well as the drone metal band sunnO))), Armbachi seems to reinvent himself on every solo release. “Triste” is a two-part minimalist composition made with a heavily electronically processed guitar. Part one is the slower of the two, where we are familiarized with the handful of guitar notes that will comprise the bulk of the music. Each one is sustained at length, almost like savoring a mouthful of vintage wine. These notes are then played in quicker succession in a seemingly random order. This is perfect for those nights when you can’t sleep. When every sound outside your window makes you jump, when you’re just staring at the weird patterns of diffused light and shadow on the walls and instead of closing your eyes to make it go away, you want to revel in the strangeness of the moment. As the first segment draws to an end the individual guitar notes give way to a spooky, almost subsonic droning, punctuated by erratic popping sounds which sound like a guitar being plugged in and out of an amplifier, which is then topped by a wavering shrill tone. If you could physically see music, this is what it would look like in the reflection of a fun house mirror. The guitar tones are folded, spindled, mutilated, mutated, and layered until it sounds like a digital swamp populated with frogs, birds, and crickets. The second segment comes to an end in a cacophony which I can only describe as what it might sound like if a robot were to disgorge its electronic innards. Following the original two sections of “Triste” are remixes of each track by tape loop artiste and founding member of the Los Angeles Free Music society Tom Recchion. Though greatly abbreviated in length, Recchion fleshes out the stark compositions with hints of percussion, keyboard flourishes, and more droning. As I said before, this piece is definitely not for everyone, but anyone who enjoys music from the deepest sectors of left field is sure to enjoy this.

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