Oren Ambarchi’s (47) work spans over decades, while his discography is endless and could be equated in sheer volume to Grateful Dead’s live bootlegs. Prior to his fourth performance this recent July in Israel, we conversed attempting to decipher what underlying premises serve as a denominator through out his career while composing and performing as an experimental guitarist, percussionist and composer.
Fascination of sound and music has been a reoccurring theme since his childhood in Australia. Great artists and performers have had significant impact on Ambarchi and a noted monumental moment for his teen years in Australia was sneaking into a Einstürzende Neubauten concert and witnessing the raw and eclectic power of the German luminaries. “I was always making weird cassettes at home in my teens and trying stuff, making collages of sounds, i’ve always been involved in music. I was always exposed to ethnic music in the household like Arabic music my grandfather would play.”
Miscatalogued Coincidence and Fate?
How many times have you encountered a record store clerk misplacing a LP of Iron Maiden in a Miles Davis cover? It does so happen pretty rarely and whilst keeping an open mind you might be exposed to new musical genres just like Ambarchi was in his teens with a vis a vis situation of the latter. Those ventures of his own expansion of musical knowledge and experience had branched out into free jazz, krautrock and Japanese experimental lingering upon the way. Currently being active in many bands like Nazaronai (which features no other than Keiji Haino on lead-guitar and Stephen O’Malley on Bass), “[In Nazaorai] Stephen and i try and set the scene for Haino's guitar flights”. Ambarchi’s eclectic taste gracefully interwinds with his current day projects.
Watching Oren play live is a whirlwind of spectral emotion, sound and musicianship. “The stuff I use is very primitive and I don’t consider what i do to be very technical. A lot of what I do is finding a quirk in a piece of equipment I use.
It’s a pattern in my life where I find a piece of gear that I like and get to know its quirks.” With an array of pedal effects and a sole mixer a cosmic energy is conjured in the room and the listener if truly active arrives at a state of mindlessness as equated in the Dhurpad style of prayer.
There’s an underlying commonality to Ambarchi’s music and that is its therapeutic nature, if it’s his 2004 LP ‘Grapes from the Estate’ or tracks like Sin Nanna or Alice within Sunn’s bleak array of nihilistic LPs. Unlike the robes of Sunn O)))’s stage attire and the glistening polaroid sunglasses of Nazaronai, while playing his own material, stage presence and visual stimulants are of inferior significance to Ambarchi. Various bands use this tactic -like Autechre’s strict darkness aesthetic- and in today’s debacle of virtual reality and other meaningless technologies disconnecting from visuals stimulates and an overstimulate sense, sight.