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oren ambarchi - Audience of One
At this point, Oren Ambarchi is about as close as we get to a rock star in experimental music. He’s worked with such a wide range of artists, it’s almost impossible to list them, but it’s probably worth noting that list would include Sunn o))), John Zorn, Fennesz, and Keith Rowe just for starters. ‘Audience of One’ is his long awaited follow up to 2007s viscous ‘In The Pendulum’s Embrace’, and is possibly Ambarchi’s most personal and singular record to date. It might surprise listeners initially with its inclusion of elements not usually associated with Ambarchi’s sound (vocals, frenetic percussion, electronic beats) but the lightness in which the artist treats these elements is simply a joy to behold. Opening track ‘Salt’ begins with the kind of clipped electronic sounds Ambarchi has made his calling card, but soon bows under the weight of Paul Duncan’s melancholy vocals. For all intents and purposes this is a song, it’s just that the song has been engineered and produced by an artist unwilling to adhere to any rules there might be about the form. Before long we’re launched into the album’s half-hour centerpiece ‘Knots’, which builds slowly from delicately tapped hi-hats and popping synthesis into a cacophonous, squealing near free-rock work out (think Keiji Haino produced by Pan Sonic and you’d have an idea). This single track shows not only the breadth of knowledge and interest Ambarchi has, but the skill and resolve in his execution. In the wrong hands we’ve heard countless records that have approached something this ambitious and ended up with unlistenable post-jazz dreck, yet with Ambarchi at the reigns the result is nothing short of revelatory. It’s almost a relief when the album draws to a blissful close on the jangling ‘Fractured Mirror’ (a cover of Ace Frehley), throbbing early-Morr Music drum machine sounds and all, again showing that there’s more to Oren Ambarchi than just drones. ‘Audience of One’ is a powerful new chapter in the catalogue of an artist who refuses to stay still.