Oren Ambarchi

Audience of One

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Recruiting a variety of guests and fellow travelers, including Eyvind Kang and Crys Cole, Oren Ambarchi continues in his vein of excellent solo releases on Touch with 2012's An Audience of One. The still feeling of "Salt," the album starter, suggests that it's not merely a solitary audience, but a contemplation of solitary feeling -- with calm slow melodies, softly echoed singing from Warm Ghost's Paul Duncan that's part stern, part wistful, and a sense of focused contemplation. "Passage" has a similar feeling at the start with its piano introduction, and notes paced out as Jessika Kenney's singing and textures via Cole emphasize centering and looking inward more than out. But this also blends into the concluding "Fractured Mirror" -- an interpretation of a genuinely pretty, moody instrumental from Ace Frehley's late-'70s solo album, keeping the same skeletal serenity of the original and turning the album's focus outward in turn. "Knots" takes up most of the album, a half-hour-long piece of dark ambience that has the virtue of demonstrating how much more clear and unique Ambarchi's aesthetic and musical voice has become with time. As the soft, reticent chill settles into a slow unfolding of various elements -- what could almost be Tuvan throat singing at one part, a distant percussive part from Joe Talia as feedback coils and snarls at another, or a two-note moan pattern that feels like a fanfare via Vangelis' Blade Runner work for another -- into a full arrangement partially courtesy of Kang; it's at once thrilling and subtly crushing, with a slow steamroller effect. When it pulls back at about ten minutes to feature a new, sweetly exultant main theme, arrhythmic electronic pulses and pluckings and a sense of heading out into a collapsing outer space take the lead in a striking instance of Ambarchi's abilities in full flight.

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