Frankly ridiculous multi-dimensional flexing from Oren Ambarchi here, captured on an extended session recorded to mark his 50th year and the 10th anniversary of his Black Truffle label, with an all-star band featuring Jim O’Rourke, Eiko Ishibashi, Joe Talia, Konrad Sprenger, Kassel Jaeger, Francis Plange, WIll Guthrie, Julia Reidy, Mats Gustafson, crys cole, Johan Berthling, James Rushford, Adam Scheflan and Andreas Werlin.
Captured at Cafe Oto in 2019 - in the era before, you know - Ambarchi is flanked by a barely believable cast of players (plus one virtual guest), on a pair of extended cuts that basically sound like studio sessions. 'Hubris Part 1’ sees the band gradually build to escape velocity over a 21 minute arc, knitting intricate interlocking motorik rhythms under and around the pulsating electronics of that piece’s “ringmaster”, Konrad Sprenger, who is joined by seven guitarists spinning a web of palm-muted polyrhythms that eventually keen into parts of woozy, glorious fanfare supplied by long-distance guest Jim O’Rourke. It’s a sort of airy, weightless extension of Kraftwerk x E2 E4 with a deeply hypnotic momentum that’s truly a wonder to behold.
Over on the flip, Part 2 picks up with a more deadly, tussling fervour fuelled by the trio of drummers; Joe Talia, Will Guthrie, and Andreas Werliin. Initially simmering, they keep it in the pocket but swanging, eventually introducing Mats Gustafson’s baritone sax shreiks and Ambarchi’s shredding guitar fuzz that all collapse into a mighty squall. It’s like all of Chicago’s post-rock scene on steroids, exuding endless amounts of energy and control, with the kind of synergy we can only compare to Prince’s Sign O The Times era band, basically a whole other level of tight.
‘Live Hubris’ is genuinely astonishing, showcasing Ambarchi’s singular ability to contain experimental and popular music within the same paradigm, oozing confidence with striking levels of self awareness. Having listened attentively through the full thing twice in one heart-stopping sitting, this listener is left with a vivid impression of Ambarchi as a player/arranger/curator/collaborator who has seen it all, done it all - and is still somehow pushing.