Oren Ambarchi | Bond Chapel, University of Chicago | Experimental | Chicago Reader

Oren Ambarchi Free All Ages Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Sat., April 5, 9:30 p.m. 2014

Powerful Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi regularly embarks on new partnerships and collaborations that radically recast his sound, but certain elements remain constant—he creates hypnotizing soundscapes from rippling long tones, grainy textures, slow-building drones, and scrabbled, manic patterns. He’s worked with all sorts of musicians—AMM pianist John Tilbury, German techno producer Thomas Brinkmann, Japanese guitar shaman Keiji Haino—and he improves every ensemble he’s part of. Another of Ambarchi’s frequent collaborators is Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))), with whom he plays in Nazoranai and Kairos. The latter project, which also includes engineer Randall Dunn, formed to score a short by Belgian filmmaker Alexis Destoop, but it developed into a working trio that alternates between ominous guitar-and-keyboard atmospherics and crushing, faux-tribal rock grooves (Drag City will release Shade Themes From Kairos on May 20). “Sometimes” is almost delicate, with tender singing by guest Ai Aso amidst brushed percussion, hovering drones, and sparse acoustic guitar. On the ballsy and hilarious 12-inch Stacte Karaoke (Black Truffle), Ambarchi displays a much different side of himself, tearing off improvisations full of lacerating feedback and slashing noise atop crudely looped samples of ZZ Top riffs—one from “La Grange,” the other from “Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings.” He stops playing each time the sample begins again, as if he’s sitting alone in his bedroom and has to manually pick up the turntable needle and drop it back at the start. It’s as entertaining as it is satisfying. —Peter Margasak

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