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Oren Ambarchi & Robbie Avenaim - Clockwork

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Artist: Oren Ambarchi & Robbie Avenaim

Album: Clockwork

Label: Room40

Review date: May. 21, 2006

Originally released just before the turn of the century in a micro-pressing of 100 3” CD-Rs, this brief (18:28) CD represents both a turning point and a blind alley in the ongoing partnership of these two Australian tone scientists. A turning point because the recordings that preceded it, under the name Phlegm, were spastic rock, while what followed has been more of an electro-acoustic improv bag. A blind alley because it doesn’t really sound like anything else I’ve heard these guys play, a quality that amplifies this record’s considerable charm.

Clockwork captures the feel of a music school rehearsal space – random yet fascinating. Pass this door, you hear the gamelan ensemble; open that one, there’s a bell-ringing chorale. Stand midway between them and you’ve got something going. Meanwhile, the door to the room with the drum kit opens and shuts so that tom-tom forays seem to tumble into the bell tones like the contents of a box tumbling off the top shelf. Oren Ambarchi’s rounded guitar tones aren’t much in evidence, although there’s some electronic hum that might have been generated that way. It sounds like the work of a percussion orchestra, not two men in real time; a neat trick, but more relevant is the fact that these two men have created a piece of music that is circumscribed in scope and sound palette, yet highly engaging throughout.

By Bill Meyer

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