Boomkat Product Review:
‘The Vanishing’ is a steeply beguiling album of electro-acoustic chicanery where endlessly inventive avant-garde icon Ambarchi meets longtime collaborator Martin Ng and Sydney’s new music performers, Ensemble Offspring
In a mesmerising push and pull of acoustic and electronic sound, Ambarchi & Ng reprise their duo behind a trio of LPs c. 2000-2006, but newly augmented by new music specialists Ensemble Offspring, who instrumentally translate the pair’s guitar and turntable sketches into a disorienting play of extreme low end frequencies and hypertense, high register tightrope stunts. If you were keen for Ambarchi & O’Malley’s work on Alvin Lucier’s ‘Criss Cross’, the ‘Woods’ piece is a total knockout.
“On the opening piece, the aptly named ‘Simulacrum I’, bowed violin harmonics mimic feedback tones & dispersed vibraphone attacks recall the glitching bell textures prominent in Ambarchi & Ng’s earlier work for electric guitar & turntable, which were themselves often uncannily reminiscent of acoustic sounds such as Tibetan prayer bowls. On ‘Woods’, two vibrating bass drums create an ominous landscape of rumbling tones that call to mind Ambarchi’s past work with abstract doom lords Sunn O))).
Channelling giants of 20th century music such as Giacinto Scelsi & Luigi Nono, as well as contemporary composers like Klaus Lang, the restrained palette of strings & percussion present throughout the record creates a distinct sound world, yet each of the five pieces possesses its own compositional identity. On ‘Recife’ (arranged by Australian composer James Rushford), Ambarchi & Ng’s guitar & turntables join Ensemble Offspring for one of the record’s highlights, a delicate tapestry woven from subtly overlapping sonic events.
Finally, the closing side-long title piece acts as the perfect summation of the record as a whole: beginning in silence, it builds into a densely buzzing texture of closely tuned harmonics before gently returning to the silence from which it came. Intended as the next step in a continuing project in which Ambarchi & Ng will go on to use these two LPs directly as part of their live performances, The Vanishing is a unique document of two artists reimagining the potential of their previous work, made possible through collaboration with a group of world-class musicians.”