Ambarchi, Oren: Shebang LP
Extended guitar hero Oren Ambarchi returns with Shebang, the latest in the series of intricately detailed long-form rhythmic workouts that includes Quixotism (2014) and Hubris (2016). Like those records, Shebang features an international all-star cast of musical luminaries, their contributions recorded individually in locations from Sweden to Japan yet threaded together so convincingly (by Ambarchi in collaboration with Konrad Sprenger) that it’s hard to believe they weren’t breathing the same studio air. Picking up from the staccato guitar patterns that ran through Hubris, Shebang’s single 35-minute track begins with a precisely interwoven lattice of chiming guitar figures, expanding Hubris’ monolithic pulse into a joyous, hyper-rhythmic melodicism that calls up points of reference as disparate as Albert Marcoeur, early Pat Metheny Group, and Henry Kaiser’s It’s A Wonderful Life. Building from isolated single notes into densely layered polyrhythms, the muted guitar tones are joined by subtle touches of shimmering Leslie cabinet tones and guitar synth. Simmering down and funneling into a single note, the guitar stew is soon thickened by Joe Talia’s propulsive ride cymbal, which blossoms into a beautifully flowing yet rigorously snapped-to fusion funk, whose ever-shifting details skitter across the kit. An unexpected entry of guttural bass clarinet licks from Sam Dunscombe begins the series of instrumental features that pepper the remainder of the piece. Soon we hear from the legendary British pedal steel player B.J. Cole, whose languorous yet uneasy lines float in and out of a shifting rhythmic foundation supported by a single note bass groove, cut through with aleatoric synth articulations.