One thing that’s worth pointing out, in simple terms, if you’re looking for quick and convenient ways to access the best in experimental music, follow Oren Ambarchi’s activities and plot the staggering releases of his label Black Truffle Records.
Whilst he adopts loads of strategies in his own releases, an overview of his more recent activities, the three headed diamond of Quixotism, Hubris and Simian Angel all seem to fit into an idea of an episodic development with a host of players around a constant element. Whilst this year’s Simian Angel explored a more ambient textural approach Hubris feels like a punk version of Quixotism.
Hubris offers at once the smoothest and most abrasive model yet. The start of the recording builds around a beautiful, almost zither-like fragment that is quickly surrounded by smooth, pulsing electronic sounds. There’s a ghost of Donna Summer, or Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4, as this section begins to build. In a series of false horizons, looping elements peel off into space continuously. This is high-quality kaleidoscopic music draped around a wireframe.
Longer sounds move in, and then at about the 11-minute mark, the first of many weird things happens as isolated spacey synth-islands appear. As each sound recedes, a new form, or treatment, emerges. New details are buffed up, new highlights appear. An arsenal of compatible fragments mesh and interact, illusionary stasis formed in an ever-changing broth.
As far as the individuals involved in this recording go, we again have a cast that reads like an avant supergroup’s wet dream. crys cole, Mark Fell, Will Guthrie, Arto Lindsay, Jim O’Rourke, Konrad Sprenger, Joe Talia, Ricardo Villalobos and Keith Fullerton Whitman all work with great sensitivity to the structures mapped out by Ambarchi.
After a brief voice chopped detour of Hubris 2, part 3 Again it echoes that familiar (more bulbous) pulse of the first track, but the sound is immediate and more physical. Live drums roll around in the mix, and it’s clear this is all about to erupt… Weird keyboard stabs come out of nowhere; we are now in some parallel Bitches Brew universe.
Slowly the crackly guitar amp fizzes. Every space, every crack in the music is filled in, covered up, and occupied. It’s relentless, and the last few minutes are exhilarating in a way that knocks you off your feet. If the first track was brain music, this is physical. Sparks are flying; dials are waving into the red.
The best albums pick you up and drop you off somewhere else. Hubris does that in spectacular style. It still feels like a concise 41-minute showcase of the best in experimental conceptual music as much as the day it was released. It’s music to play loud, repeatedly, and it’s still absolutely glorious.
Get Hubris is here