Looking back over the growing stack of Oren Ambrachi music that calls OBLADADA HQ home, there is a pattern emerging in the staggering variety. The pattern somehow magnifies the moment, a mirage between atom and drone. How this ever-moving transition forms a rippling kaleidoscope of variations from the seemingly fixed surface of a rhythmic grid. This latest work Simian Angel feels like development of Sagittarian Domain, Quixotism and Hubris that all played with rhythmic spines. The seam that spews Joe Zawinul flavoured grooves next to brain popping techno, bubbly electronics and forward momentum, all supported by a wet dream wish list of players. They all are stunningly evocative palettes of sound and endless variations on an apparently locked down structure.
The image that adorns the sleeve follows the visual repetition of these 3 albums with another repeating multiple generating moiré. This time it’s a sun-baked tennis court overlooking the sea. The court markings, the netting and fencing all thoughtfully aligning with that big fake straight line we all meditate on – the horizon. Whist I understand that Lasse Marhaug’s sleeve (featuring photography by Traianos Pakioufakis) isn’t meant as a graphic score to the 37 minutes of music, it’s easy to see the music here as a series of interrelated moments, junctions, blocks and layers, the netting almost presents itself as a pixelated stave…
Palm Sugar Candy immediately paints a woozy Boards Of Canada bleariness file transferring from the skewed tabla world of last years Hence (a collaboration between Ambarchi with Jim O’Rourke and U-Zhaan). But like that album, any idea of settling only happens within a framework of weirdly bobbling ever shifting markers aided, this time by percussionist Cyro Baptista. The strangely guttural breathing patterns that enter around 4 minutes in make it clear this is a superbly kaleidoscopic journey is going to be built from transition after transition. Sparks, vectors, shadows all grow from the sun as it beats down on the ground.
What happens next is awesome as the title track begins. A guitar groove roller skates inside your skull, with beats and shit, and creates a form of music that definitely needs to be mapped out more fully. It’s a weird two minutes that completely blows minds before disappearing and re-inventing itself. The first 4 minutes, if it’s not brutal to dissect within the overall effect, are stupendous.
The track then slowly unpicks. We’ve just gone over the wave from Villalobos’s sweaty night club into O’Rourke’s Steamroom. A meditation on piano, gently pecked at by radio samples. The piece then slowly settles into a beautiful David Behrman nebulous see sawing… electronics spawning and wriggling like microbes over each piano key.
Simian Angel does end up being another exploration of rhythm. But its woozy drifting, highlights the grid to which it’s underpinned by can also stretch and move. Much like the netting on the cover, absorbing the occasional missed shot and the sea breeze, Simian Angel is a beautiful flexing grid between precision and chaos.