Oren Ambarchi and Johan Berthling are two masters of reducing music’s peak intensities to their root meaning.
Oren’s early solo guitar works rendered this process with an instantly recognisable combination of sine wave throb and precisely controlled attack that has bloomed in maturity concentrating the ecstatic potential of the guitar solo by folding it back on itself and stacking the points of greatest liminal intensity into waves of powerfully psychedelic excess while also encompassing more explicit references to his deep love of pop/rock songform and rhythmic/riffing minimalism.
Johan Berthling’s attention to purity of sound and his unflagging pulse has made him one of Europe’s finest bass players whether invigorating numerous acoustic ensembles (Arashi/LSB/Martin Küchen etc) or keeping Fire!’s free/jazz/rock amalgam locked during explosions of orchestral colour. He first came to my attention in the trio Tape a group that have continued to refine an open approach to pastoral minimalism, rich and strikingly gorgeous without resorting to emotional posturing.
Though Ambarchi has since joined Berthling in Fire! and it’s orchestral incarnation as a guest it’s been well over a decade since they convened as a duo in Stockholm to record “My Days Are Darker Than Your Nights’ a gorgeous half-hour of luminous sustained tones sourced from Ambarchi’s guitar and electronics and Berthling on harmonium.
Initially reacquainting us with those times ‘Tongue Tied’ slowly drifts into consciousness an overture of flickering held hammond chords and harmonics set aloft like lanterns celebrating the new year before dramatically shifting into the present with a strummed double bass run and Ambarchi’s swinging cymbals ushering in the pair’s shared mode of simultaneous propulsion and physical suspension. We see things a little more clearly in this time. I think about The Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner the scene shot at 500 frames a second and played back at 24 but here it’s just the core of music in motion the bottom of the tongue's tip tethered to the floor of the mouth sending the mind sky high. John Chantler.
Musicians: OA: guitar, drums, synthesizer JB: electric bass, double bass, Hammond organ, synthesizer
Tracks: 1. Tongue, 2. Tied