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Oren Ambarchi / Günter Müller / Voice Crack - Oystered

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Artist: Oren Ambarchi / Günter Müller / Voice Crack

Album: Oystered

Label: Audiosphere

Review date: Jul. 9, 2003

Single-Celled Sonic Organism

Debates continue to rage about what to call the ever more important genre of AMM-influenced electronics. Still freely improvised, the music has variously been called lowercase improv, egoless improv, electro-acoustic improv, post-AMM improv, glitch-prov, and more. I don’t know what in the world to call it, but if anyone is even remotely familiar with the genre then the names of the musicians on Oystered will be instantly recognizable. Australian guitar experimentalist Oren Ambarchi – one of the more interesting young players in this scene – met up with Swiss masters Voice Crack (Andy Guhl and Norbert Moslang on "cracked everyday electronics"), who have recently disbanded, and Günter Müller, who plays electronics and selected percussion. Apparently gorged on oysters and wine, they headed into the disturbingly named Big Jesus Burger studio in Sydney. It’s a very rich meeting, comprised of four tracks over 41 minutes, and doesn’t sound much like what one might expect from a Müller/Voice Crack summit.

"Walking Oysters" opens with processed drum throbbing away, a gentle catalyst for some jarring, almost serrated electronic sounds. Perhaps no surprise here, since Voice Crack have always struck me as among the more rhythmically oriented electronics improvisers. The Müller’s and Ambarchi’s strategies work well in concert with this approach – somewhere in this piece it sounds like a helicopter flying above a crowd involved in ritual incantations (with somebody playing a contrabass clarinet). As always with this music, one has very little idea about the source of the sound; that’s part of the intrigue, as is trying to describe it. On "Briefing Oysters," muffles and subdued whines try to keep down flinty scraping noises, but fail beautifully. The slowly changing frequencies – tones being altered in pitch – create some delicious tension, as the crackles and rustles suggest tiny animals clawing their way out of your speakers. "Grounding Oysters" is the most nervous and claustrophobic track, with its insistent pulse and sounds of a robot’s indigestion. On the closing title track, Ambarchi’s processed and treated guitars are very eerie. Though this is a one-off meeting, ultimately the group sounds very coherent, a single-celled sonic organism that might well have emerged from the same muck as the group’s beloved oysters. In general this is subdued music which might appeal to fans of Ambarchi’s work with Keith Rowe, some of Müller’s duets (with, say, Taku Sugimoto or Lê Quan Ninh), or sound artist Ralf Wehowsky.

By Jason Bivins

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