Oren Ambarchi


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There is an aura of nostalgia surrounding Oren Ambarchi and Martin Ng's Reconnaissance. The analog electronics, stripped-down aesthetics, and the lines and geometrical shapes in Tina Frank's artwork are taken right out of the early days of minimalism and sound art (especially Alvin Lucier). Ng's analog tones and Ambarchi's guitar are literally fused together. Only after the most attentive listen (and the willingness to take chances) will one be able to ascertain who produced what sounds. Harmonies and resonances are the heart of this CD. Tones delicately echo off one another, creating cold but pleasant soundscapes. "Procession" seems made of only analog tones -- would that make it a solo performance by Ng? It's a short warm-up. "Surfacing" introduces the soft whales and tiny bell-like sounds of Ambarchi. Ever heard a guitar that sounds like finger cymbals? This one is very peaceful, totally Zen. After the two preambles (five and seven minutes long), the two artists come together for the 26-minute title track. It is here that the elements presented in the previous tracks become one. It sounds easy, doesn't it? Many artists with or without electronic backgrounds have tried similar things, but rarely have they created a piece that is an object of such plastic beauty, such raw postmodern aestheticism. Every musical gesture counts in this endeavor structured around the repetition of a very limited number of moves. Not as strikingly beautiful as Gal's Defragmentation/Blue (mostly because of the delay created by the presence of the first two tracks), Reconnaissance still shows impeccable taste and an uncanny courage to do less. Recommended.

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