Oren Ambarchi – ‘Audience of One’ [Review]

The highest-profile submission in the recent bottleneck of releases by Oren Ambarchi, ‘Audience of One’ betrays no hint that the urbane Australian has his hands in other projects.  Four tracks spread across four sides of this double LP (including the 33 dominating minutes of “Knots,” requiring its division in two) have the grottoed feel of a master, not amateur, who controls the palette with total skill rather than surrendering to whatever sounds may come.  Starting with the touch-tones of hymnal “Salt”, vocalist Paul Duncan resembling Michael Gira in his Angels of Light recordings, the air is rarified and modern like those institutions of the avant-garde where doors are marked “F. Frith” and “K. Rowe;” the sounds of swelling strings and pastel dub blots are all that frame the white wall of production where this voice floats in duplicate.  Most like Ambarchi’s tenure as a part of Sunn O))), “Knots” surges with quiet, pulling the canvas tight with tacks of cymbal tapped on the bell.  Feedback is cut and sampled, streaking this country-mile lead-in to the rolling drums and fuzzed beam that peaks for no more than five minutes in the dead center.  Never so careless as to be called “improv”, the piece suppresses the muscle-twitch excesses of real-time composition and cools the edges of this controlled burn into the gingerly drone passage “Passage.”  A daydreamy half-thought turned into segue, the six minutes erases itself in the process of resetting the ear for the final groove of the record.  “Fractured Mirror” (reported to be an Ace Frehley cover), with the optimism of Pell Mell fitted alongside the massive sprawl of “Knots,” recalls Jim O’Rourke’s recent guitar symphony ‘The Visitor’ for the attention to analogue right-angles and almost “body music”-like gesture in its minimalism; this is a pedestrian’s song if there ever was one, holding a gait with the looping guitar phrases and plosive little beats, but all the while reframing the perspective with a camera’s shutter.  A rising vocalization oohs the underlying buzz to ecstatic proportions til the whole thing collapses on its back in the city sun.  On black vinyl with a gatefold cover. 

Touch 2LP

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