|Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi — Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen (2014)|
Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi — Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen
Location: Chiba, Japan
Album release: June 10, 2014
Record Label: Black Truffle
1. Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It A Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be As of Yet Unseen 40:44
STYLES: noise, improv, ironic process music
OTHERS: K.K. Null, Fushitsusha, Last Exit, Charalambides, Caspar Brötzmann Massaker
By SIMON CHANDLER; SCORE: ****
Don’t think of a pink elephant. You don’t want to end up like Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke, and Oren Ambarchi, who across four previous collaborations and over the course of another crystalline recording of another untamed performance at Tokyo’s SuperDeluxe, have embodied ironic process theory in their intention and striving to rupture themselves from all intention and striving. Yes, we all love our quixotic heroes, who for a moment appear to splinter the domination of the repressive and the injurious, but their latest — Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It A Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be As of Yet Unseen — in its single–track tranquility and extremism, is far too focused, far too purposive and militant, to achieve its purported aim of melting itself and its authors away. Sure, the initial 15 minutes are a scattered ripple of O’Rourke’s 12–string, Haino’s dulcimer–esque kantele, and Ambarchi’s measured symbol–work; and sure, there’s an untrammeled peace and lightness to its fluttering decentralization. However, once this benign overture is cracked by the ungodly swirls of Haino’s synthesizer, things begin to take a turn for the teleological, introducing all the desire, ambition, purpose, and egocentrism that such a loaded term suggests — that is, introducing all the selfishness that contradicts the objective of evaporating into a mist of selflessness.
It’s as if by concentrating themselves on the task of self-annihilation, Haino, O’Rourke, and Ambarchi only harden and reinforce the very consciousness they hope to unravel. Accordingly, the cry of Haino’s synth reaches a point of all-consuming definition at the 22-minute mark, emerging from the primordial soup of buzzing oscillation and shuffling percussion to calcify into a maddeningly jarring pitch that in its overwhelming intensity couldn’t be further from the blissed cloud it arguably hopes to attain. Maybe the trio realize the futility of their paradoxical efforts, and maybe the performance could even be read as a comment on the perennial fallacy of identifying art with dissolution and escape, an error that arises from the that fact “art” is not simply a set of objects in the formal blankness of which we can “lose ourselves,” but an institution that welds such objects to social processes and hierarchies, another extension of human communication and social positioning. As such, the endeavor to escape the often squalid pettiness of social positioning by engaging in the squalid pettiness of social positioning is only going to result in exasperation and self-defeat, regardless of how savagely majestic your rendition of this tedious ballet is, and so it comes as little surprise that the ascendant and keening electronic tones of Haino’s new weapon collapse under their own scorched weight, erased by an underlying drone and then replaced by the kind of placid chord-clusters that initiated the record.
From here, Haino’s braying tonsils punctuate the drift of O’Rourke’s plucking with flourishes that range from the serene to the incensed, while O’Rourke’s playing itself becomes increasingly fractured and jittery. Together, their combined restlessness acts as a move away from the composition’s formerly purposive direction and toward an unceasing, fatalistic hail of negations, this lapse ramified by an eruption of artificial dissonance that verges on the blinding. In its irrational shifts and undulations, this unstructured torrent cancels itself out from one bar to another, pessimistically responding to the impossibility of a meaningful release from meaning by descending into an unmitigated stream of constant destruction and denial. As harrowingly violent and turbulent as it is, it suggests in the end that to Melt Beautifully Away is not to enter into the contentment or gratifications of a new realm, but simply to mortify and punish yourself for an impotent failure to acquire anything of worth within an old one. It’s to suicidally destroy what little you had to begin with, and even though it’s undoubtedly a revelation to hear Haino, O’Rourke, and Ambarchi substitute their usual, guitar-heavy framework with one that exploits synthesizers and electronics to similarly excoriating effect, it’s this destructiveness packaged as liberation, as well as the album’s abovementioned self-contradictions and cancellations, that might potentially unsettle the overconscientious. Then again, it might destroy you before such a qualm even has a chance to register. (http://www.tinymixtapes.com/)
Jake Cole; Rating: 3.25/5
It’s hard to pass off a trio of experimental musicians as a supergroup. Not only is broader recognition of stand–out performers too low to justify the term, the natural inclination toward collaboration in underground scenes means that designating anyone as a supergroup falsely attributes a desire to make music to the commercially minded line-ups that drive most collections of high-profile musicians. Nonetheless, anyone with passing familiarity with the experimental scene might do a double–take when coming across an album that teams up Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke and Keiji Haino. The trio has worked together on several albums, but it still feels like an event when they prepare a new release.
Their latest work is a single–track, 40-minute album called Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen, so named, presumably, because it takes exactly as long to say as it does to listen to the record. Besides the mind-boggling title, what also stands out immediately about the record is how gentle it sounds for much of its running time. The trio’s past releases have catered to their CVs as renowned noise–makers: Ambarchi, among his many solo and collaborative credits, frequently lends a hand to venue-shaking drone act Sunn O))), while O’Rourke has produced his own band of noise rock and worked with people like Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo. Then there’s Haino, whose work as a solo artist and especially as the leader of Fushitsusha is so loud that the best spot in any given venue where he plays may be out in the parking lot.
Still, all three have pedigrees in softer music as well, and Only Wanting to Melt allows them to work out the other side of the compositional and improvisational abilities. The unbroken song unfolds as if in a trance, with Haino’s elegant kantele strumming setting the tone before his vocals come in at 3:30. Even when pushing his guitars to peak decibel levels, Haino’s singing has always had a kind of bone–chilling, haunting quality to it. His keening moans transcend the language barrier any non–Japanese speaker would normally have listening to his lyrics by infusing them with a mournful nature that does not require words. Given ample space in the mix to reverberate, Haino’s warble sounds like Cathy out on the moors around Wuthering Heights.
Haino’s playing and singing is so delightful and relaxing that the first time I listened to the composition, I did not realize that Ambarchi had started drumming until several minutes after he entered, while O’Rourke’s 12–string guitar enters with bracing volume that nonetheless meshes with and layers Haino’s kantele before quickly taking over with a knotty acoustic solo backed by Ambarchi’s delicate cymbal work, which leads into its own solo. Soon after, an electronic tone howls over the soft music, but instead of launching the composition into the stratus, it primarily adds color to O’Rourke and Ambarchi.
At least, that’s how it works at first. Gradually, the sine wave is joined by more tones, then more, each countering the other and creating a composition in their own right. Furthermore, in the vaguely multicultural bent of the music so far—Haino’s Japanese vocals, his Finnish kantele, O’Rourke’s blues-folk guitar work—the synthesized lines occasionally dip into quasi-Arabic terrain. But it is in the final 10 minutes that this record explodes: a sudden explosion of screams, saxophones, feedback and heavy tom-drumming pushes the needle to the red and recalls John Zorn’s Painkiller project, all punk–jazz–metal bordering on free noise. Even when things settle back down and Haino closes things out with flute, he plays with spiky energy that upends the New Age application of so much non–classical flute playing. The sudden rush of the last 10 minutes clashes with what precedes it, and it’s a bit of a setback for an otherwise flowing document. Regardless, Only Wanting to Melt is yet another beautiful work from these three immense and intuitive talents, and perhaps the new best point of entry for their collaborations. Fortaken: http://john-zorn.musicnewshq.com/
"Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen"
CD/LP Black Truffle BT011
"Begun as a one–off collaboration in 2009, the trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi has now become a solid working group, refining its craft through a series of annual concerts at Tokyo's legendary SuperDeluxe. Much of their recorded work has focused on their intense, ritualistic take on the rock power trio of electric guitar, bass and drums. Presenting the entire first set of the trio's March 2013 concert at SuperDeluxe (the second set will follow on Black Truffle later this year), Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen is their fifth release and blows the instrumental palette wide open for a single continuous piece focused on acoustic strings, synth, flute and percussion. Featuring one of Haino's most delicate and moving recorded vocal performances, the opening section of the record takes the form of a spare duet between O'Rourke's 12–string acoustic guitar and Haino's kantele (a Finnish variant of the dulcimer), behind which Ambarchi provides a hovering backdrop of wine glass tones. While on previous releases the listener has often sensed that Haino was firmly in the driver's seat, here O'Rourke takes center stage with an acoustic guitar performance that takes the lyricism of John Abercrombie orRalph Towner and refracts it through the free improvisation tradition of his mentors Derek Bailey and Henry Kaiser. The atmosphere of meditative, abstracted song is reminiscent of some of Haino's greatest recordings, such as the legendary Live in the First Year of the Heisei volumes recorded with Kan Mikami. After this stunningly beautiful opening sequence, the performance moves organically through a number of episodes, including a dramatic central passage in which Haino moves to synth and drum machine, crafting a current of raw electricity that unfurls slowly over the gently pulsing foundations of Ambarchi's cymbals and builds to heights of manic intensity. When Haino later turns to wooden flute, Ambarchi answers him with nimble hand–drummed percussion in a passage that calls to mind Don Cherry's liberated combination of free–jazz improvisation and non–Western musics. The trio's move away from the power trio dynamic bespeaks a risk–taking and questing spirit that refuses to be satisfied with repeating past glories, and yet the organic, immersive flow of this single improvisation attests to the intuitive bond that has formed between them over the last five years. Exuding the signature mystery and emotion of Haino's greatest works, this release is perhaps the strongest statement yet from this acclaimed trio, and holds out a tantalizing promise for everyone hooked on their continuing exploration of 'those things said to be as of yet unseen.' — Francis Plagne; Design by Stephen O'Malley with high quality live shots by Ujin Matsuo and stunning artwork by Norwegian noise legend Lasse Marhaug.
Oren Ambarchi is a composer and multi-instrumentalist with longstanding interests in transcending conventional instrumental approaches. His work focuses mainly on the exploration of the guitar, "re–routing the instrument into a zone of alien abstraction where it’s no longer easily identifiable as itself. Instead, it’s a laboratory for extended sonic investigation". (The Wire, UK).
Oren Ambarchi's works are hesitant and tense extended songforms located in the cracks between several schools: modern electronics and processing; laminal improvisation and minimalism; hushed, pensive songwriting; the deceptive simplicity and temporal suspensions of composers such as Morton Feldman and Alvin Lucier; and the physicality of rock music, slowed down and stripped back to its bare bones, abstracted and replaced with pure signal.
From the late 90's his experiments in guitar abstraction and extended technique have led to a more personal and unique sound–world incorporating a broader palette of instruments and sensibilities. On recent releases such as Grapes From The Estate and In The Pendulum's Embrace Ambarchi has employed glass harmonica, strings, bells, piano, drums and percussion, creating fragile textures as light as air which tenuously coexist with the deep, wall–shaking bass tones derived from his guitar.
Ambarchi works with simple constructs and parameters; exploring one idea over an extended duration and patiently teasing every nuance and implication from each texture; the phenomena of sum and difference tones; carefully tended arrangements that unravel gently; unprepossessing melodies that slowly work their way through various permutations; resulting in an otherworldly, cumulative impact of patiently unfolding compositions.
Ambarchi has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists such as Fennesz, Otomo Yoshihide, Pimmon, Keiji Haino, John Zorn, Rizili, Voice Crack, Jim O'Rourke, Keith Rowe, Phill Niblock, Dave Grohl, Gunter Muller, Evan Parker, z'ev, Toshimaru Nakamura, Peter Rehberg, Merzbow and many more. Since 2004 Ambarchi has worked with American avant metal outfit Sunn 0))) contributing to many of their releases and side-projects including their Black One album from 2005 and the recent Monoliths & Dimensions release.
For 10 years together with Robbie Avenaim, Ambarchi was the co–organiser of the What Is Music? festival, Australia’s premier annual showcase of local and international experimental music. The festival hosted over 200 local and international performers. Ambarchi now curates the Maximum Arousal series at The Toff In Town in Melbourne and has recently co–produced an Australian television series on experimental music called Subsonics. Ambarchi recently co-curated the sound program for the 2008 Yokohama Triennale.
Ambarchi has released numerous recordings for international labels such as Touch, Southern Lord, Table Of The Elements and Tzadik. In 2003 his live release Triste received an 'honourary mention' in the Prix Ars Electronica digital music category.
Keiji Haino (灰野 敬二 Haino Keiji) born May 3, 1952 in Chiba, Japan, and currently residing in Tokyo, is a Japanese musician and singer-songwriter whose work has included rock, free improvisation, noise music, percussion, psychedelic music, minimalism and drone music. He has been active since the 1970s and continues to record regularly and in new styles.
Instruments: Guitar, synthesizer, piano, bass
American composer Jim O'Rourke has been a key component in the American and European experimental music avant-garde, working in a no man's land from experimental jazz and pop to rock and electro–acoustic, and building many a bridge in between. Born in 1969 in Chicago, IL. Bachelor of arts degree in music composition, DePaul University, 1991, dealing most often with prepared guitar in improvisational group settings, O'Rourke has also released a fair bit of material as a soloist, although more often in the electro-acoustic musique concrète vein.
Jim O'Rourke (born January 18, 1969) is an Irish American musician and record producer. He was long associated with the Chicago experimental and improv scene. Around 2000 he relocated to New York before moving on to Tokyo, Japan where he currently resides.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, O'Rourke is an alumnus of DePaul University.
He has released albums of jazz, noise, electronica and rock music. O'Rourke has collaborated with Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Derek Bailey, Mats Gustafsson, Mayo Thompson, Brigitte Fontaine, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Merzbow, Nurse with Wound, Phill Niblock, Fennesz, Organum, Phew, Henry Kaiser, Flying Saucer Attack, and in 2006 mixed Joanna Newsom's album Ys. In 2009 he also mixed several tracks on Newsom's follow up Have One On Me.
He has produced albums by artists such as Sonic Youth, Wilco, Stereolab, Superchunk, Kahimi Karie, Quruli, John Fahey, Smog, Faust, Tony Conrad, The Red Krayola, Bobby Conn, Beth Orton, Joanna Newsom and U.S. Maple. He mixed Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album and produced their 2004 album, A Ghost Is Born, for which he won a Grammy Award for "Best Alternative Album". During the recording of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, O'Rourke collaborated with Wilco member Jeff Tweedy and pre-Wilco Glenn Kotche under the name Loose Fur. Their self-titled debut was released in 2003 with a follow-up in 2006 entitled Born Again in the USA. He also mixed the unfinished recordings that made up a planned third album by the late American singer-songwriter Judee Sill, recorded in 1974 and mixed by O'Rourke for a 2005 release.
O'Rourke was once a member of Illusion of Safety, Gastr Del Sol (with David Grubbs)and Sonic Youth. Beginning in 1999 he played bass guitar, guitar and synthesizer with Sonic Youth, in addition to recording and mixing duties with the group. He withdrew as a full member in late 2005, but continues to play with them in some of their side projects.
In the early 1993, O'Rourke formed an avant-rock group with Darin Gray and Dylan Posa called Brise–Glace. The band released one studio album, When in Vanitas..., in 1994. They also released a 7" in the same year titled In Sisters All and Felony/Angels on Installment Plan.
O'Rourke has also released many albums under his own name on a variety of labels exploring a range of electronic and avant-garde styles. His most well–known works may be his series of releases on Drag City, which focus on more traditional songcraft: Bad Timing (1997), Eureka (1999), Insignificance (2001), and The Visitor (2009). The titles of these albums all refer to films by the British director Nicolas Roeg; the first three by direct reference to film titles, the last being titled after a fictional album within Roeg's film The Man Who Fell To Earth.
With music director Takehisa Kosugi, he played for the Merce Cunningham dance company for four years.
In 2001, he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.
Interview, Jim O'Rourke 13 Questions: Publicado por Miguel Copón en 9:00 AM
By Marc Masters; March 22, 2012; Score: 8.2
|Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, Oren Ambarchi — Only Wanting to Melt Beautifully Away Is It a Lack of Contentment That Stirs Affection for Those Things Said to Be as of Yet Unseen (2014)|