Oren Ambarchi Audience of One

Noted as one of the foremost guitar abstractionists, Ambarchi's new release expands his stylistic palette greatly with a host of collaborators. Opener "Salt" is the first indication that something's quite different. Paul Duncan's vocals enter about a minute in, gently penetrating the soft sine tone reverie, later accompanied by violin and viola. The 33-minute "Knots" shows more of Ambarchi's unconventional processing, yet begins with a steady ride cymbal that recalls late period Talk Talk. The track later bursts into a thick slab of heavy meta-psych, ravaged with dense pixilation and noise. The insistent pulse unravels as an ensemble enters (including French horn), later disintegrating into piercing guitar textures and eruptions from an amplified spring. "Passage" follows gently in lysergic chamber music mode, featuring wordless female vocals and piano. It flows into a cover of Ace Frehley's "Fractured Mirror," where crystalline acoustic guitar picking is placed atop an organ, drum machine and glowing drones. The chiming, open harmonies and round click of the drum machine invite comparisons to sweet '80s post-rock precursors Durutti Column or Dif Juz. In spite of its extreme diversity, Audience of One remains quite focussed and accessible throughout. This is an intriguing new direction. (Touch)