Posts Tagged ‘Oren Ambarchi’

Svart Records – 2nd June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Depending on your perspective, drone metal masters Gravetemple are either a(nother) Sunn O))) offshoot, or a supergroup. Comprising Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O’Malley and Attila Csihar, the trio have many interconnecting threads, and s Gravetemple, they create something quite different – and arguably more overtly ‘metal’ than any of their other projects.

According to the press release, ‘on Impassable Fears, Gravetemple have refined and diversified their nuanced form of all-consuming, abstract death metal inspired heaviness. The essence of their other-worldly vocal exhortations, the maelstrom of frenetic beats and heavy guitar sounds are ever-present, as is the sheer power of their delivery. Yet Impassable Fears is far from unrelenting, there’s shifting dynamics, revealing an abundance of unexplored sonic detail, across all intersections, deftly balancing minimalist and maximalist sounds with finesse.’

It’s true: there is considerable range in texture and tone, and Impassable Fears is not an hour-long solid wall of excruciating noise. But there is a lot of excruciating noise and punishing volume, and the sonic density of the songs as they’re recorded is optimal for the most part.

Opener ‘Szarka’ begins by melding a strolling, subterranean bassline and blustering beat to a shattering guitar which very quickly goes sludgy, and from thereon rapidly descends into guttural brutality. Shrieking demons flee in terror at the depth of the darkness conjured by the thick, blacker than black guitar noise. Crackling distortion and scraping feedback grate against a rumbling percussive attack on the ten-minute ‘Elavúlt Földbolygó (which translates as ‘World out of Date’). A twisted mess of psychedelic metal dragged from the bowels of the earth, it builds relentlessly, growing ever louder, ever more frantic, and ever more dense over the duration.

The experimental and atmospheric ‘Domino’ offers respite, exploring a throbbing electronic ambient vein to disorientating and unsettling effect, and segues into ‘Áthatolhatatlan Félelmek’, which pulls back on the full-on aural attack, at least during the first minute or so. The track instead proffers forth a sparser, but ultimately more sinister, more subtly atmospheric vision of hell. But eventually, the rolling thunder breaks out, demonic drumming drives a searing scourge of molten guitars and a droning bass that’s so low and so thick it realigns every last inch of the intestinal tract – and then continues to twist malevolent for what feels like a most uncomfortable eternity.

The tranquility of the haunting drift that is ‘Az Örök Végtelen Üresség,’ which closes the album is welcome, but there are darker undercurrents which run through. The final notes are crashing chimes which echo into silence, leaving more of a hanging question mark rather than a resolution or serving the listener with a sense of closure and relief.

 

Gravetemple artwork (by Denis Forkas Kostromitin

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Aurora – ACD5084

Christopher Nosnibor

The cover suggests a blinding trip of an album, the sonic equivalent of an immense op-art extravaganza. Ensemble neoN, a collective of twelve Oslo-based musicians present on their debut release performances of compositions by an array of luminaries in the experimental / avant-garde music world, chosen for the uncompromising and original nature of their work. And while the collective’s objective is to ‘initiate, produce and perform music that reflects current trends in music and other art forms’, and to do so with a spirit of youthful conventionalism, they’ve set themselves well beyond the mainstream as far as fashion goes, and have produced an album that shows a lot more restraint than the lurid dayglow Digipak would imply.

Their rendition of Kristine Tjøgersen’s ‘Travelling Light’ heralds the ensemble’s arrival in bold fashion, and sets the tone, manifesting as an energetic sonic excursion that grabs the attention and holds it in a firm grip. Twangs and pings whip into space like a squash ball pelting into zero-gravity while long, quavering drones rise and decay.

There’s a keen element of playfulness which runs through Jan Martin Smørdal’s experimental composition ‘My Favourite Thing’, which toys with the tropes of orchestral soundtrack pieces with an avant-garde bent. Clamouring strings and creeping fear chords meet with marching drums and

The choice of ‘Monocots’ by Oren Ambarchi and James Rushford as the album’s centrepoint is well-conceived: the rippling acoustic guitar hangs in a fuzzy mist while a minuscule sound, like the trickle of water, continues to run through the silent sections.

Alvin Lucier’s epic ‘Two Circles’ is an exercise in uncomfortable droning minimalism. It doesn’t do much, and nor is it required to do so. Instead, it highlights the multi-faceted nature of the ensemble’s playing skills, and taken collectively, these five pieces are well-considered and well-executed. And the liner notes by Jenny Hval make for a nice bonus, too.

 

 

Ensemble neoN

Opa Loka Records – OL160096

Christopher Nosnibor

It begins with a long, low, ominous hum. The movement is so gradual as to be barely perceptible. Slowly, so slowly, it grows, swells, and turns, its density, depth and texture shifting, microtonal layers emerge and fade. Dolorous chimes ring and resonate in the sonic mist. The individual tracks are segued together to form an extended, evolutionary work. Brooding strings strike and organs waver on ‘Stone Ether’, and over the course of the album, Cut Worms stalls time to create space and distance, ethereal soundscapes drift, soft, sculpted, immersive.

The forms and structures are as subtle, fleeting and inscrutable as the infiniteness of space and the existence of dark matter. Equally, the origins of the sounds which fill the album seem wholly removed from one another: Lumbar Fist is an electroacoustic work, created with live generated and processed sounds, without any prefabricated beats or loops, and as such, the process entails considerably more than the all-too-common mechanical laptop machinations of ambient works.

Richard Van Kruysdijk – the man who alone is Cut Worms (and what an evocative moniker that is… not that the album title’s far behind) has spent a long time honing his craft, and Lumbar Fist stands alongside artists like Tim Hecker, Oren Ambarchi, Glenn Branca, Stephan Mathieu, Will Guthrie and Jim O’Rourke not just as an exemplar, but an outstanding example of atmospheric, drone-orientated ambience.

 

Cut Worms - Lumbar Fist