Oren Ambarchi & Robbie Avenaim Clockwork

These Australian compatriots have been linked in music and noise since the mid-’90s. Their collaboration began with the noise/punk group Phlegm, who took their influence from the Japanese noise of the time. Their Jewish orthodoxy was imported resulting in a duo recording for the Tzadik label in 1999. Clockwork was initially released that same year on Ambarchi’s own Jerker label, but as with many self-releases it vanished under the sands of time. Hearing it now provides an essential puzzle piece to link the chaos of their roots to the more austere minimalism of Ambarchi’s recent solo work, as well as the duo’s collaborations with Keith Rowe and Sachiko M. The piece features a guitar attack that is subtly amplified but extremely kinetic and varied in tonality. Avenaim’s percussion is likewise frenetic but feathery. After an initial time of tentative sorties the duos’ clipped skitterings lock together with Ambarchi’s guitar taking on gamelan orchestra overtones and Avenaim unleashing a small infantry of grasshoppers with heavy footwear across his toms and snare. Played for contemplation rather than shock, the piece resolves quickly and cleanly like the sound of a book’s page turning. (Room 40)