Keith Rowe


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This collaboration between English experimental guitar pioneer Keith Rowe and young Australian Oren Ambarchi could be seen as a passing of the torch. And yet, if there is intergenerational exchange here, it appears to take place on the same level. Ambarchi's style has matured rapidly, as the trail of albums he left on Touch and Staubgold at the turn of the millennium can testify. It is with a confident voice and from a much different point of view that he steps into the ring to meet Rowe. At least one world separates the two artists. Where the Aussie favors challenging ambient soundscapes, the Brit prefers a harsher attack (his 2000 solo CD, Harsh, contains all the proof you need). They meet halfway on Flypaper -- Ambarchi thinning out his textures to leave room for input, Rowe being careful not to shatter them. Their respective contributions juxtapose well but always remain discernible (including Rowe's use of radio waves). The four untitled pieces work more like installation soundtracks or sonic environments than compositions. When approached from that angle they work nicely -- and in fact "Flypaper IV" has more than that to offer. But the music lacks both the circumspect details of Ambarchi's delicate compositions and the gut-wrenching miasmic movement of a typical Rowe improvisation (once again, "Flypaper IV" stands out as a salvaging exception). Satisfying, but not a landmark in either artist's discography.