Oren Ambarchi & Johan Berthling
“My days are darker than your nights”

Häpna H.10, CD (sold out)
1 tracks, 31 minutes
Listen to: “My days are darker than your nights” (excerpt)
Reviews of “My days are darker than your nights”
Release date: April 2003

An eternity was coming to an end. The room grew steadier each time I closed and opened my eyes. Still muddled, my thoughts drifted without taking form, reality was not yet here. I had dreamt a lot. My dreams had not been vague but sharp, frightfully realistic; I didn’t remember this but rather felt it in my body. The detailed scenes of the dreams escaped my blunt analyzing powers as I slowly returned to consciousness, only to be replaced by undefined anxiety and a feeling of the loss of something that has been important in my life.

The presence of anxiety... Wasn’t it true that I, my whole life, had tried to arrange my everyday life so that this anxiety wouldn’t be there? Quit jobs, avoided responsibilities. Like birds that use their own bodies as templates when building their nest, so had I too formed my life: to avoid anxiety was my template, my guiding light in my life.

The hours passed slowly. I looked out the window, the wind played with the leaves. Remembrance of actual experiences was still rare, like driftwood in a river of time and evasive possible connections. The feeling of loneliness and unrest about the electromagnetic fields in the surroundings was worrying. There has to be a high-voltage generator in the vicinity or high-tension wires over the house. I didn’t remember the circumstances under which I was brought here, neither what the surroundings looked like, but I would examine these things later when my wounds have healed. If the fields influenced my views of life in the same way they made my nerves ring, I would not recognize myself when leaving this place. I couldn’t understand how I ended up sacrificing my independence and became drawn into this. (from the Xesmarism)

“Oren Amarchi's solo projects reveal a musician who follows his instincts and makes his own choices. The guitar is his starting point, opening onto a field of undefined possibility rather than a fixed horizon that he's working towards through conventional practices. But he's also a skilled collaborator, able to adapt his performance to group requirements. "Flypaper" (Staubgold 2002), his guitar and electronics duo with Keith Rowe, confirmed Ambarchi's affinity with Rowe's Cagean deployment of electric guitar as a total configuration rather than a limited, predefined or externally regulated set of functions.
Although Ambarchi treats the instrument as a malleable sound source rather than a hard and fast repertoire, he is drawn to sustained tones, and his involvement with Phill Niblock's minimalist drones has been another strong marker of his musical learnings. "My days are darker than your nights" was recorded in Stockholm in March 2002. Ambarchi's collaborator on this occasion was Swedish bass player Johan Berthling, veteran of improvising groups run by pianist Sten Sandell or percussionist Raymond Strid. Berthling explores other instruments with his trio Tape, and for this duo recording he alights on the harmonium. Ambarchi's guitar is somehow looped to create a pulsating drone that interacts with the keyboard's pedalled pulse. Small changes occur over a single 31 minute piece: a harmonium chord is reconfigured, the guitar loop's shrillness intensifies or its pulsation grows more emphatic. As the two components interact, the music develops despite its appearance of unchanging steady state until at last it fades away. On "My days are darker than your nights", Berthling and Ambarchi bring bellows and circularity together within a common language to make a joint statement that repays repeated listening.”
Julian Cowley, The Wire

“Pure drone bliss on offer here from the prolific Australian guitar experimentalist Oren Ambarchi (whom you may already know) and Swedish musician Johan Berthling (a less familiar name -- he's brother to Andreas Berthling,and with him a member of the field recordings group Tape, who are also to be found on Hapna). These two got together in a studio in Stockholm last year with the intent to drone, and drone they did, Ambarchi on electric guitar and Berthling playing the harmonium. They recorded what, with some editing, became this single track thirty minute long cd release. "My Days Are Darker Than Your Nights" is a totally pleasant -- assuming that serious drones are yr cup of tea to begin with, that is -- shimmering, buzzing, faintly grinding drone piece. Ambarchi's guitar eventually, occasionally engages in some wavering tones, cyclic and repetitive in the vein of some '70s minimalist Reich/Riley thing, while Berthling's harmonium always pulsates mechanically, and ever so slightly melodically, in the background. The sound of both merges into a gorgeous whole. Good stuff, a strong n'steady drone release that really mesmerizes (though it's got a high end that might not allow peaceful sleep, a la some of Tony Conrad's drones). Is this sort of thing the religious music of the 21st century? Could be....”
Aquarius Records, San Francisco

“Comprised of a lone 31-minute drone piece, this gloomily titled album (it's actually almost confrontational in its moroseness - as in "Oh yeah? Well, my days . . . " - exemplary of what's been called the machismo of suffering) is actually quite delightful to listen to. Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi began his career as a free improv drummer but several years back made the fortuitous switch to tabletop guitar and electronics. He's already recorded several top-shelf albums, such as his duet with Keith Rowe (Flypaper, on Staubgold), the group recording Thumb (with Rowe, percussionist Robbie Avenaim, and electronicians Otomo Yoshihide and Sachiko M, on Grob), and the recent summit with Voice Crack and Günter Müller (Oystered, on Audiosphere).
When Ambarchi traveled to Sweden in early 2002, he met up with Hapna associate and member of Tape Johan Berthling for this duo session. It's a real doozy, tripped out and intense from the very beginning. Ambarchi (using guitar and looping devices here) and Berthling (credited only to harmonium) set up layers upon layers of resonating frequencies, drones, oscillations, and thick clusters of sound. On the surface there is very little change or dynamism here. But this kind of improvisation is about anything but surfaces or conventional expectations.
At the smaller, more microscopic levels, change is constant: there is a subtle change in inflection, the adding or subtracting of a layer, a modulation in the overtone range, and so on. The music pulses, throbs, oscillates, and slowly envelops you. As it goes on, it gets louder and slightly more insistent, until you reach the point where you can't imagine this music not playing. This sensation is captured well in the disc's one-sheet which, instead of just cataloguing session specifics as these things normally do, contains a weird and unsettling first-person narrative: "The hours passed slowly. I looked out the window, the wind played with the leaves. Remembrance of actual experience was still rare, like driftwood in a river of time and evasive possible connections."
The verbal accompaniment is probably unnecessary, but the feeling of drifting is certainly accurate when listening to this My Days Are Darker Than Your Nights. It bewitches. It will draw you in. Let it.”
Jason Bivins, Dusted magazine