Not content with having become a critically acclaimed fixture of today’s scene, over the last years sonic omnivorous Oren Ambarchi has been gaining merits for giving new room – on his own imprint Black Truffle – to important works by older masters. In that regard, the choice of reissuing three compositions by never enough sung Annea Lockwood – a quintessential adventurer of the physical / metaphysical borders – must be praised. The pieces comprised by this vinyl album are variously dated and differently formed; their effectiveness satisfies novel and practiced ears alike.
“Tiger Balm” – a forgotten classic of tape music – is the longest, the most striking in terms of sheer sonority and perhaps the one upon which reflections continue even after silence has fallen. Lockwood juxtaposes a cat’s purr, a tiger’s growl, a slowed down jew’s harp, a somewhat restrained female orgasm, a heartbeat, the echoes of flying airplanes and tuned percussion. The sources are not gathered in a communion, projecting instead their essence alone or paired. The mind receives direct messages with a measure of comfort, absorbing every little vibration while learning crucial truths from unadulterated cores. Solitude versus sense of belonging to a wider context; fear versus composed awareness. A game of contrasts ultimately resulting in a deeper understanding of mechanisms ruling our beingness without the interference of the self.
The second side starts with the rather singular “Amazonia Dreaming” for male voice and snare drum, both by Dominic Donato. More than vaguely suggesting the acoustic characteristics of the region that titles it, the performance conveys a sort of “warped Asian ritual” impression to this writer, who very much appreciates the whole’s uncommonness (with particular mention for the gorgeous tone of the drum’s tight skin).
In exemplary dulcis in fundo tradition – especially for those in need of a dose of spirit-enhancing percussive minimalism – “Immersion”, scored for marimba, tam-tams and gong (the aforementioned Donato and Frank Cassara), constitutes the real “balm” of this collection. The players sustain the faint lights of a fading consciousness, soft rolls and murmured reverberance comparable to a subdued choir of angels subsequently corroborated by the beneficial power of the bigger waves. A fundamental chapter of Lockwood’s repertoire, to be replayed on a daily basis.