Ambarchi / Fennesz / Pimmon / Rehberg / Rowe Afternoon Tea

What began as an improvised festival session now, a decade later, stands as a watershed moment for cross-genre (and generation) improvisation. Australia's What is Music? Festival was the meeting place of pioneer tabletop guitar improviser Keith Rowe and his antipodean antecedent, Oren Ambarchi. Into this already volatile mix came a trio of laptop musicians, Syndey's Paul Gough (Pimmon) and Viennese artists Peter Rehberg (Pita), and Christian Fennesz. On the first two tracks, initially released in 2000 on the now-defunct Ritornell, the unifying strategy is an abandonment of identifiable guitar sounds. Instead, the quintet stir a cauldron of tones, pops and blips that erase the divisions between them. Two live tracks, added here as a bonus, reveal a more kinetic and individual approach of rapidly expanding ripples and colliding agitations. The eventual idyll of cooperative sound obviously needed some time to be perfected. But this was arguably a key release that validated the laptop artist as a contender rather than a pretender in the evolving world of improv. (Black Truffle)