Simian Angel LP
eMego 264 / AUS / 2019
After a trilogy of spectacular explorations of relentlessly driving rhythms – Sagittarian Domain (2012), Quixotism (2014) and Hubris (2016) – Simian Angel finds Oren Ambarchi renewing his focus on his singular approach to the electric guitar, returning in part to the spacious canvases of classic releases like Grapes from the Estate while also following his muse down previously unexplored byways. Beginning with a beautiful passage of unaccompanied percussion dominated by the berimbau, the side-long title piece carries on the first side’s exploration of subtle, non-linear dynamic arcs, taking the form of a gently episodic suite, in which distinctive moments, like a lyrical passage of guitar-triggered piano, unexpectedly arise from intervals of drifting tones like dream images suddenly cohering. In the piece’s second half, the piano tones becomes increasingly more clipped and synthetic, scattering themselves into aleatoric melodies that call to mind an imaginary collaboration between Albert Marcoeur and David Behrman, grounded all the while by the pulse of Baptista’s percussion. Subtle yet complex, fleeting yet emotionally affecting, Simian Angel is an essential chapter in Ambarchi’s restlessly exploratory oeuvre.