Oren Ambarchi In The Pendulum's Embrace Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Unforced and natural, a soothing sense of calm.

John Eyles 2007

Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi regularly collaborates with some heavyweight experimental players, most notably tabletop guitar legend Keith Rowe. However, on his own solo recordings – this is his fourth release for the Touch label – he increasingly avoids the outer limits, opting instead for a laid-back ambient style that is constructed from comparatively simple melodic phrases, a style that is firmly in the tradition of Brian Eno & Harold Budd.

To create the music here, Ambarchi employed far more than guitars and electronics, including glass harmonica, strings, bells, piano, percussion and voice. All are used subtly and integrated together so that the listener is never aware of that array of instruments. The sound of the guitars remains central, with a strong emphasis on the low end frequencies, other sounds being used primarily for shading and highlighting, to hold the listener’s interest and attention.

A key component of the music is the unhurried way in which Ambarchi lets ideas develop – or maybe 'unfold' is the more appropriate word; listening to the end results can induce similar emotions to watching time-delay footage of flowers blooming; there is an irresistible logic and inevitability to the process. The music sounds unforced and natural, giving it a soothing sense of calm.

With just three tracks, between ten and eighteen minutes long, sufficient time is allowed for the pieces to evolve, with plenty of (looped) repetition. However, Ambarchi has the knack of knowing when to move on, so that the repetition never risks becoming tedious; on the contrary, one is more likely to be left wanting more. That is certainly the case with the final track, “Trailing Moss In Mystic Glow”; its acoustic guitar and wordless vocals sound like some mutant descendant of the blues, but the track ends too abruptly, bringing the album to a rather unsatisfactory conclusion – indeed, the only thing about the album that is unsatisfactory.

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