OREN AMBARCHI – Quixotism

Editions Mego

Oren Ambarchi: guitars, percussion; Thomas Brinkmann: computable drums with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem; Matt Chamberlain: drums, electronics; Crys Cole: contact mics, brushes; Eyvind Kang: bowed gender, violas; Jim O’ Rourke: synths; John Tilbury: piano; U-zhaan: tabla; Ilan Volkov & the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra

To refresh the memory, take a look at the Wikipedia page pertinent to the term that gives this album its title.

If someone really feels the urge of attaching an Utopian badge to Oren Ambarchi’s music, they are free to do so. But there’s something in Quixotism which, on the contrary, sustains a rational exactitude encompassing the orderly and the hazy, the utterly settled and the dislodged. This is owed in large part to the Entscheidungsproblem connection, upon which Thomas Brinkmann’s pulsating wave – the entire piece’s skeleton – is based. An immutable cadence, with variations from the third movement on as the quasi-robotical beat mutates into a sort of electronic swing: a somewhat curious, even funny, ultimately significant turn of events from which the composition’s second half takes its origin.

As a matter of fact, it’s right there that the introductory farawayness between diverse levels of mnemonic plangency becomes a plurality of confluent patterns, thus shaping a “now” from the remnants of the “then” where indistinct orchestral hues and Tilbury’s reserved phrases had been perceived in the first place. And it’s also at this moment that we start noticing the discreet momentousness of Ambarchi’s guitar textures: bloodless lacerations of silence, tangled partials defining responsive tones. The “harmonic” explanation of a conception which hides a multitude of secrets, not likely to be revealed with a neglectful attitude to the act of listening.

The last two sections see the egress of O’Rourke’s Terry Riley-esque synthetic evolutions and Kang’s viola chords; the latter evoke a train horn to begin with, then initiate a description of poignant glissandos. U-zhaan’s tabla adds a new dimension to the picture, propelling the whole minus the chintzy exotic tendencies. Ambarchi picks a few indispensable notes to substantiate the essential serenity transmitted by the instrumental combinations, the sum of the parts irradiating a much needed warmness.

In essence, the mind-calming qualities of Quixotism show that elegance, logicality and heart can coexist without damage. A natural-sounding petite gemstone whose gravitational pull will lure you in for hours of reiteration of the experience.

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