Fenn O'Berg

In Hell

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Collecting a variety of self-described jams from a 2010 Japanese tour, In Hell finds the trio of Christian Fennesz, Jim O'Rourke, and Peter Rehberg up to a mix of what might be best if still imperfectly called improvisatory ambient, not quite something to soothe away to but not exactly free jazz insanity either. If anything, it's far from there, with the opening "Christian Rocks" starting with echo, tones, chimes, and tingles like something is about to fire up completely but never quite does. There's instead a sense of stately progression, buried feedback scrapes, what sounds like people saying things, bursts of electronic drums but mostly drones, then a shift into a very elegant guitar/piano combination that feels like a sudden bit of classic rock majesty with distortion and muddying. With this as an opening sign, the following tracks end up exploring generally similar if hardly exactly the same paths, as each of the three performers tests out spaces to meet together in without fully dominating anything, a hesitancy that never slows to nothing. "Omuta Elegy" is more stripped down and isolated, tones (likely from Fennesz) emerging out of near silence but of course some kind of echo emerges, and is the most straightforwardly mournful thing on here, more or less. In contrast, "Vampires of Hondori" has more shimmering bursts, like alien flies shooting across the mix, calming down to a midsection before extruding back into random scraggles and bursts.

Track Listing - Disc 1

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Track Listing - Disc 2

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blue highlight denotes track pick