Boomkat Product Review:
Eminent avant-garde/experimental explorer Oren Ambarchi opens a new avenue to embrace the warmth and mystic psychedelia of Brazilian music with assistance from celebrated percussionist Cyro Baptista.
Arriving just after Ambarchi’s 50th birthday, and Black Truffle's 10th, ‘Simian Angel’ sees him yoke back from the forward tilt of his rhythm-driven outings over the past decade in order to focus on his electric guitar playing, and with utterly sublime results. Keening sideways to the unyielding percussion of ‘Hubris’ , he divines a floating space that recalls the beautifully pensile cats cradle of his early classic ‘Grapes From The Estate’ , only this time his tone and arrangements are fleshlier, almost even maximalist in relief of what came before.
The first half’s ’Palm Sugar Candy’ is pure star-gazing material, with Baptista’s hand-played, self-built percussion drawing us horizontal while Ambarchi’s glowing notes gently colour the sky, gradually opening a glorious space between their dissonant, murmuring glisten and an awning, harmonic meridian, where Ambarchi (or some uncredited voice) whispers and scats into the space, gently recalibrating our depth perception and emphasising a sublime tension between sanguine stasis and a rhythmic cool breeze which sends leaves rustling, seeming to turn his guitar into a MIDI-triggering aeolian harp in the piece’s spellbinding, levitating 2nd half.
’Simian Angel’ follows with a more gripping rhythmic pull from the twanging Berimbau, just one of myriad percussion mastered by Baptista (who has previously played with everyone from John Zorn to Derek Bailey and Robert Palmer), before Ambarchi glydes into view like a chorus of the titular, sighing Simian Angels, drawing the piece upwards into thinner air, where guitar melts into piano and columns of warm air carry distant vocals from below. The drums rejoin to mark the work’s final avian swoops in strokes and dashes of Ambarchi’s guitar, triggering MIDI keys in a beautifully colourful sort of jazz fusion call and response, apparently located amid and above a subtropical canopy.