John Tilbury: piano; Oren Ambarchi: guitar, electronics
Tim Owen at Dalston Sound posted an article last year, describing quite exactly what Tilbury and Ambarchi substantially did on September 3, 2012 at Cafe Oto: the second live rendezvous since their fraternization’s outset, providently documented by this noble record. Both Owen and the label’s press release stress the fact that the heatwave hitting London in that period was a determinative constituent on the set’s intense environment, which is indeed distinguished – besides the terrific music – by the audience’s conspicuous unrest (dressed with evidently inescapable coughs, not too many for our good luck). Artists who strive for the survival of a fragile acoustic ambiance during a performance in a circumscribed venue might be more exculpatory than your commentator, who hates bipedal complications in any vibrational process. However, in this context the rite was held at such a level of remote acuity that the “inside probing” mechanisms managed to surmount everything else.
The answer to the proliferating listens has also been somewhat uncustomary. Contrarily to the worn-out adages according to which a sibylline transmission reveals concealed beauties through imponderable disclosures, The Just Reproach appears instead as a statement whose inexplicit entangling with taciturnity progressively turns into ideology. The unmediated feedback after my private premiere was unusually impassioned, a straightaway thankful email to Ambarchi for one of the best albums of the decade (I stand with the judgment, in case of uncertainty). The mere discernment of the transmutation of unidentifiable harmonic composts around the eleventh minute of the B side is severely stirring and enriching beyond question. Not to mention the analogously gripping finale – Tilbury incomparably reiterating emaciated chords over Ambarchi quietly droning background – causing a classic “what about tomorrow?” dejected worry while encircled by the ultimate silence.
And yet, each ensuing session was increasingly typified by the arduousness of rigorously conveying the reasons (and words) that denote a rather melancholic blend of “positive stimulus” and “chronicler’s obfuscation”. As if Tilbury’s search for “that” gossamer resonance (occasionally among gravely rumbling low notes) and Ambarchi’s chimeras made of subtly throbbing swells had once again highlighted the human inadequateness in front of the most unmistakable natural event: the birth of life-sustaining persistence from the face-off between paired types of quivering phenomena.