[14 March 2010]
Guitarist Oren Ambarchi’s lethargic, often oneiric-seeming productions can at times make Andrei Tarkovsky seem like a speed freak. Yet, like other masters of the methodical and barely active, Ambarchi can take the attentive listener and slow him or her to his time. There’s perhaps very little compositional difference between his work and that of others who dabble in similar electroacoustic spaces, but Ambarchi is a commanding presence, using the physicality of sound’s reaction to the world it bounces off of to drive his work quite literally into the listener.
The aforementioned presence has put Ambarchi in high demand with a number of artists, leading to a series of side projects and collaborations which have mounted atop the already impressive corpus of solo releases, not to mention his status as something of an unofficial third member of black metallurgists Sunn 0)). All this might lead one to believe that the stuff filling in the cracks is probably not likely to garner any gold, but B-sides collection Intermission 2000-2008 is a fine release indeed and should be examined alongside any of the man’s higher profile works.
If anything, those even remotely familiar with his work, as well as those who aren’t, should check out “Iron Waves”. The song is actually a remix of Paul Duncan’s “Parasail”, but a brief eavesdrop of the new arrangement justifies the name change. Ambarchi flattens the post rock of the original into rippling and crashing crests of voltaic texture, leaving in place Duncan’s Scott Walker-esque croon and thereby making a good case for an Ambarchi pop album. “Intimidator” radiates its bass up and down your body and its primitive crashes can take the most wired listener and plant them in the Paleolithic era. “A Final Kiss on Poisoned Cheeks” ends the album with a power grid melting down, a hysterical and oddly confrontational payload for those patient enough to inch along the album’s drudging timeline.