‘Knots’ was of course the half-hour centerpiece of Oren Ambarchi’s excellent Audience Of One album, a massive piece that spirals out from a guitar / drums core into a number of other instrumental areas. Now PAN are releasing two live versions, each with a different ensemble and focusing on different elements. Typically gorgeous PAN packaging too… Oooh, you’ll need this.
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It’s hard to keep up with Oren Ambarchi these days. Of the evidence on this album, when he’s not playing drums for Keiji Haino’s international power trio Nazoronai or recording EPs of avant-trance boogie with ZZ-Top, he’s touring the world giving incendiary performances of his particular brand of experimental composition. The two tracks here feature two very distinct live renditions of ‘Knots’, his sprawling rhythm ‘n’ sound opus which formed the centrepiece of 2012’s ‘Audience Of One’.
The first version, recorded in Tokyo, features Oren on guitar with Joe Talia on drums and is the rawer of the two performances. It starts with Oren generating subtle tonal washes over a jazzy cymbal groove, with everything gradually building momentum until it hits an ecstatic plateau of cascading free-form rock reminiscent of Blue Humans or Stefan Jaworzyn’s Ascension. Oren’s impossibly clinical guitar sound is particularly gratifying on this number as it throws razorsharp irridescent overtones ricocheting at all angles off the spiralling drums; kinda like Steve Albini on an extended Harmonic Perculator spasm.
The Krakow version incorporates an added string section and extends the length of the piece considerably. Again it starts with the formless washes of sound before the strings come in with an astonishing Xenakis-like extended glissando swoop from the upper registers; sounding like bombs falling, mutating into eerie wolf howls as it moves down in pitch. The build up here is more gradual with Oren building up some hovering, modulated Hammond-like drones above mechanical textures before the whole thing lurches into a frenzied crescendo. As the fury abates the strings cut through the hustle with luminous chords before the track peters out with the reverb tank atmospherics under more glissandi.
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