Oren Ambarchi

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Vigil Review

by François Couture

Oren Ambarchi and Martin Ng's second collaboration is a keeper. Pushing further their approach to harmonics and resonances introduced on Reconnaissance, they have created beautiful soundscapes that fill the entire listening room even though they consist of very limited elements. A comparison to American minimalists such as Alvin Lucier and Gordon Mumma is in order, but Ambarchi and Ng's pieces don't have that "process generated" feel. They don't seem to follow a specific agenda or try to prove a point. They simply limit themselves to resounding sounds and articulate them in a natural-sounding way, which is all the more intriguing since Ambarchi is best known for his electric guitar loops and Ng's instrument of choice is usually the turntable. These calling cards don't prepare you for the pure electronic tones and finger cymbals that account for most of the music. The absence of performing credits in the booklet suggests that the mystery is intentional. The three-part "Vigil" fills up most of the disc. Slow-building, it starts with very high and quiet frequencies and ends with the aforementioned cymbals emerging from the otherwise faceless (but captivating) tones. "When Love Comes Back to Haunt You" is comparatively busier, changing harmonic chords beating alongside an evanescent drone. The disc also includes two MPEG videos for "Procession" and "Surfacing" (two tracks from Reconnaissance) by Mego and Staubgold cover designer Tina Frank, who has often accompanied the duo in live performances. Her abstract images of colored curves and grids match the aridity of the music on a superficial level but hardly connects with its deeper beauties.

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