Space in music is a slippery quantity to define. Reverb units will simulate a hall, a room, a church, and an arena, and especially complicated reverbs can even locate sound sources within those areas. But these are mere simulacra, often sought not for the specific properties and associations of those spaces, but rather just to deepen the harmonic content of the work; you can even select how much of the signal to apply the spaciousness, as if your speakers were half in, half out of the room.
Quixotism is a continuous 47-minute composition that was recorded over the span of two years in several different locations. That idea might sound like a mess, but in the hands of Australian experimental veteran Oren Ambarchi, it turns out beautifully fluid. Quixotism is not exactly a solo effort: it features, among others, Jim O'Rourke, Thomas Brinkmann, an Icelandic orchestra and the Japanese tabla player U-zhaan.
Experimental composer/guitarist/percussionist Oren Ambarchi's massive discography has taken on many forms, from the summery ambience of 2004's stellar effort Grapes from the Estate to more droning, metallic fare or even sounds resembling pop. Quixotism is one of Ambarchi's more involved and dense compositions, seeing the composer boil down more than two years' worth of recordings with dozens of collaborators into a single album in five parts. Neatly ordered and precise in nature, the separate chapters of Quixotism are strung together by a steadfast pulse supplied by electronic minimalist Thomas Brinkmann.
Oren Ambarchi — Quixotism (Edition Mego)Among musicians as prolific as Oren Ambarchi, it’s tempting to posit that folks tend either to plow a single furrow with boundless obsession or to range impishly across as many different territories as possible. Over the last decade, the Australian percussionist/guitarist/electronician has tilted emphatically toward the latter tendency, collaborating with musicians as different as Sunn0))), Keith Rowe and Jim O’Rourke. His solo records have consisted of everything from the enveloping grey of Triste to the blaring ecstasy of Raga Ooty.
Does Oren Ambarchi ever sleep? Looking at his output over the last few years, it’s hard to imagine that he manages more than a few minutes of shut-eye each night. Most of his records since 2012’s Audience of One for Touch have been collaborations: Connected, with Robin Fox, pieces for dance that made for an exquisite standalone album; Shade Themes From Kairos, with Stephen O’Malley and Randall Dunn, which fleshed out the soundtrack from the short film Kairos, and a recent full-length, Alps, that struck an unexpectedly fine balance between Ambarchi’s dense instrumentation and Eli Keszler’s meticulous percussion. Consider all this in addition to ongoing collaborations with Keiji Haino and Jim O’Rourke, work with improv pianist John Tilbury, a forthcoming album with Haino and O’Malley as Nazoranai, and one of his finest 12-inches to date – Stacte Karaoke, which may feature the most perverse take on a ZZ Top riff ever committed to wax – and it’s a wonder Ambarchi finds the time to tour, let alone sleep.