Step aside Gnod, go home Carlton Melton, take yer Horseback and burn it in a ditch; snap your Truckfighters records and flush ‘em because there’s a new sheriff in town, Oren Ambarchi, and he’s just made a record which is tribally groovy and panoramically heavy, visceral and cerebral and thirty three fucking minutes long. A chokingly thick black-acid freakout, but with a utopian, Fawkesian purity of vision burning in the belly of its big Henkel engine. The empty drone is entirely gone on this, his fifth (count ‘em – five) release of the year so far and electrically energised rhythms replace whatever you expect. So here he is, drummer, guitarist, genius, star of electricity entering a devil’s agreement and distributing a half-hour of oh-so-funky Gnodness. We got an advance copy because foaming over this stuff is exactly the sort of thing we pretend we specialise in, but you can settle down with it on the 29th of August. Well the Edinburgh festival starts drawing to a close here and what plops onto my digital lap? This thing. Another fucking Oren Ambarchi release, to add to the growing pile from that prolific barbarian Buddha; but it’s a whole new trip with whole new rules, as a surfboard on which to ride out yet another wave of pretentious boy’s-boys man’s-mans bullshit nouveau-dull trudge art bands, something cold-water drench unpretentious and metaphysically righteous and meditationally important earns repeated marathon spins, I highly advise you to toke it.
Oren Ambarchi’s name is becoming synonymous with ‘it’s 2012 motherfucker, the Mayan calendar is going to end, but the world is not, a lot of great music is coming out and a lot of shit music too, and it’s a new release month so here’s the latest Oren Ambarchi’. It can only be bad, his feverish prolific out-churning of quality material (by the way, his collab with Keiji Haino and Stephen O’Malley was excellent too, very different to this) I only fear that a release comprising of a single 33 minute track in the churning wash of his huge release schedule might just get lose. Which would be a tragedy because instead of churning out mediocre releases, he seems to have a knack for nailing the beauty in some way every damn time. I can see him now, feverishly programming away, forgoing food, sleep and human company in his relentless pursuit of the cure for what ails us; boggled eyes wide on the high of the moment but sitting very still, hands poised o’er whatever instrument happens to have fallen within reach, contemplating, waiting for the jolt and then… zzzap! Like a bloodhound he smells a winner, someone somewhere who needs a bit of sonic revelry. He leaps into action, slowly but delicately plying his spiritually fearsome trade, and there he rises! Supergeek!
|Oren Ambarchi, channelling spirits.|
And Jesus has he risen to the mark this time. Clearly tired of the Ur-Drone which we loved but was kind of baseless (certainly not bassless, it had bass up the arse, but I digress) he’s dropped something akin to the Ur-Kraut pumped out by Gnod, but with fuzzier drowned-out guitars, the droning taking a very literal back seat and on a few listens it sounds kinda funky. I know, right? It’s the kind of twisting lanky bar-leaning beast that mighta been spawned by Iggy if he coulda knocked up Suzy Quattro but kept in a German basement for all these years and finally set free into the world having only survived on seriously ambient Amon Duul cuts. As Krautrock worship it hands-down swipes Gnod’s cards and flips the table. It’s a 33-minute love letter to an entire genre in an almost mechanical, rule-adhering way he sticks rigidly within the framework. While Gnod stop painting on the canvas within seconds and start spreading paint in thick lines all across the walls and floor and roof and you and the kitchen worktops and all your pristine vinyl, this is much more sedate. It’ll get into your head though, don’t know how many times I’ve played it and it looks set to get a many more spins once I’ve finished writing about it (a rare thing) because it is so multifaceted, more than almost any other record. Even the best records have a single tack, a single mode. You can dance to them, they’re cerebral, they’re funny. Few times previously have I been able to have a record of such omniusefulness, spiritually speaking. On videogame night-time speed sessions with zipping lights and Blade Runner, it’s there… on bright early morning runs the same beat takes me round, you can dance to it, you can sing over it, it’s good backing music, you can meditate to it; I haven’t fucked to it yet, but we shall see.
And then… there’s the final five minutes… phew… remember Sunn O))) did Alice on Monoliths and Dimensions, and it didn’t really work because it was an unsatisfying jarring end to the song, well the same thing gets done here, except it nails the beauty. In the last five minutes the song drops almost instantly away, after burbling along in the same krautrock mode for 27 minutes of escalating noisy metallic robotnik refusenik intensity, it just instantly collapses like a jogger at the finish line, or a marionette with the strings sliced, and rising out of the ashes is this is a three-piece string section composed of Ambarchi on viola, Elizabeth Welsh on violin and Judith Hamann on cello; a stringed quartet of slow Australian swelling empty beauty. A noise to drown out the incessant pattering of rain on parched desert outback fields on the first day of the rain season. Three instruments sing as one voice and their fibrous strings become vocal chords, the notes become a wordless but lyrically profound epic, in a tired and very very rain-soaked mood. It rises over the record seraphim and whole, quenching of desire and soul and any kind of want. An epic capitulation to meditative energy and in the midst of that slowburning Kraut intensity it hits, even with its endless gentleness, like a punch in the jaw. After 27 minutes, it is the petite mort, the transcendental moment after expenditure of the life force. It is said that when the human body ‘dies’, the brain retains electrical charge for up to fifteen minutes after the death of the body… imagine the dreams one could have in those moments. Free of everything and free to dream, your life’s petite mort. I don’t dream. I don’t have to, as long as rightheaded heads all across the world continue to include such masterstrokes as the final strings in Sagittarian Domain. It is an essential 2012 record.
|Going full righteous.|
I was gonna end it there, go off and get high with Oren Ambarchi again, but no, I thought, I’mma say what needs to be said here. Let us all join hands, sing to the intuitive godhead and assorted higher powers and whoever else probably isn’t eavesdropping and say a collective thankyou for Oren Ambarchi, this column has lapsed into hero worship but fuck dipping yer toe, time to dive in wholeheartedly. We need all assembled higher-power prolific motherfuckers of all kinds, we need dips and quips and squares and hairy unruly biker barbarian motherfuckers, and there is a place at the great table for Ambarchi and his searing brand of cerebral pseudo-disco and he’s churning it out like tickertape. We need this assembly, an Avengers of guitar-based lambasting, because we need reference points when the down-and-outs come to us with concessions. We need constant psychic reinforcement, continual evidence of the sustaining ability of rock and roll to transport us, daily realisation anew from all across this blessed planet that our everlasting and unrelenting worship of mung, wah and yawp is not in vain, hirsute guitar tomfoolery is a conduit to better humanity. A nickel-plated broadcastable how-to guide: How to overthrow the government and have a good time too. A reassurance that what we are doing is right, that we are winning, that we are backing up the frontline of the rock and roll revolution.
Written under duress by Steven.