Oren Ambarchi - In the Pendulum's Embrace Review
by Mark Hensch
Heavy metal has always expanded the boundaries of sound. As a genre, it seeks new expressions of noise and popularizes its discoveries. The result is an ever-shifting definition of heaviness, one which is based as much in emotion and atmosphere as it is decibel levels.
Multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi is a longstanding participant in this process. Having contributed towards such renowned extreme music acts as Phlegm, Sunn-O))) and Burial Chamber Trio, Ambarchi possesses vast experience in pushing the sonic envelope.
On his 2007 solo album In the Pendulum's Embrace, Ambarchi turns the simplistic audio phenomenon of the echo and transforms it into soft, soothing art. This metamorphosis occurs via Ambarchi's extensive skill in manipulating tonal drone. What at first listen sounds like the rippling ring of an echo grows into an entire vista of sound. The end result is a delicate interplay between the order of musical composition and the freedom of creative noise, a Pendulum indeed.
"Fever, a Warm Poison," for example, toys with a smorgasbord of musical instruments towards the production of a delicate wash of sound. Regardless of what instrument Ambarchi is playing, "Fever" quietly pulses like a wavering ray of light. Guitar chords, ringing percussion and sparse pianos keys serenely coalesce into the essence of tranquility, not unlike drowsing peacefully on a sun-warmed window.
"Inamorata," meanwhile, displays a darker edge. Though still light and transparent, the ethereal ringing on display here contains an undercurrent of regret. This glaring change is created via subtle alterations in the echoing sounds, accentuated by gloomy violins near song's end.
Last but not least is "Trailing Moss in Mystic Glow," an epic in graceful noise manipulation. A single point of sound expands outwards, revealing a lonely acoustic guitar run at its heart. Heartbreaking and poignant, it anchors the humming ambience while providing an excellent close to this unusual yet breathtaking record.
Though it is not heavy in the traditional sense, Pendulum seesaws between the warmth of hope and the sad reflection of discontent. Though the album is almost entirely instrumental, Ambarchi proves music feels the most powerful not in words but in sound.
Fever, a Warm Poison
Trailing Moss in a Mystic Glow
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