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Oren Ambarchi / Keith Rowe - Squire

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Artist: Oren Ambarchi / Keith Rowe

Album: Squire

Label: For4Ears

Review date: Jan. 15, 2007

This is the latest chapter in the fertile ongoing relationship between Keith Rowe, former member of AMM and the original tabletop guitarist, and Oren Ambarchi, a much younger Australian guitar and electronics manipulator who perambulates unhindered across a musical territory bounded by near-ambient solo soundscapes, scrappy Zorn-sponsored clatter, and Sunn 0))).

Squire comprises a single track over almost 45 minutes, recorded in concert on March 2, 2002 in Cologne, Germany. Given how long it took to get released and the fact that Felix Klopotek gets a big thank you in the liner notes, one wonders if it was originally supposed to come out on Grob?

At any rate, hearing it removed several years doesn’t hurt the record a bit. Squire distinguishes itself from the duo’s other efforts; its reminiscent of regarding a painting. It doesn’t so much begin and end as fade in and out in a way that suggests that the music could go on whether or not anyone was listening, the same way that sunlight through a window plays upon a hung canvas and changes the relationships of color and contour regardless of whether anyone is watching.

You’ll find plenty of elements familiar from each man’s bag of sounds, from Ambarchi’s subsonic bass swells and wavering, endless drones to Rowe’s harnessed electrical rumble and crackle, but here they seem especially patiently deployed. Such familiarity cuts both ways. It would be easy to put this record on, think it sounds rather nice, and let it play without really hearing the action. But it also lends itself to thoughtful contemplation of the gradual shifts in timbre, texture and activity level, which manage to be at once unemphatic and quite gripping in their progress.

By Bill Meyer

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