Stone Nest, London: Oren Ambarchi

29 April 2023

Oren Ambarchi presented a spatialised version of his album “Shebang”.  The spatialisation was created using the 4DSOUND spatial system at MONOM Berlin in 2022 with the support of the Foundation. 

Photo (c) Brian Whar

Shebang is a single 35-minute composition that begins with a precisely interwoven lattice of chiming guitar figures, expanding into a joyous, hyper-rhythmic melodicism. Building from isolated single notes into densely layered polyrhythms, the muted guitar tones are joined by subtle touches of shimmering Leslie cabinet tones and guitar synth. Simmering down and funnelling into a single note, the guitar stew is soon thickened by Joe Talia’s propulsive ride cymbal, which blossoms into a beautifully flowing yet rigorously snapped-to fusion funk, whose ever-shifting details skitter across the kit. An unexpected entry of guttural bass clarinet licks from Sam Dunscombe begins the series of instrumental features that pepper the remainder of the piece. Soon we hear from the legendary British pedal steel player B.J. Cole whose languorous yet uneasy lines float in and out of a shifting rhythmic foundation supported by a single note bass groove, cut through with aleatoric synth articulations 

Though single-mindedly occupying its rhythmic space throughout, Shebang’s dense ensemble sound is carefully composed while drawing on the free flow of improvisation, with individual voices momentarily coming to the fore and subtle changes in harmony and texture. Perhaps the most surprising of these shifts occurs around half-way through when the smoke of a buzzing synth crescendo from Jim O’Rourke clears to reveal something like a piano trio, with Ambarchi’s guitar-triggered piano patterns providing restless accompaniment to flowing melodic lines from Chris Abrahams of The Necks, while Johan Berthling’s double bass and Talia’s drums fill out the bottom end. Before long, things take another left turn as Julia Reidy’s rapidly picked 12-string guitar lines take centre stage, with O’Rourke’s monumental synth clouds hovering in the distance. The ensemble surges through a slow series of harmonic changes before the whole shebang dissolves into a delirious synthetic mirage. 

Bridging minimalism, contemporary electronics, and classic ECM stylings, and bringing together a cast of preternaturally talented contributors, Shebang is unmistakably the work of Oren Ambarchi: obsessively detailed, relentlessly rhythmic, unabashedly celebratory.  

released September 30, 2022 

Oren Ambarchi – guitars & whatnot 


Chris Abrahams – piano on III & IV 
Johan Berthling – acoustic bass on III 
BJ Cole – pedal steel on II & IV 
Sam Dunscombe – bass clarinet on I & II 
Jim O’Rourke – synths on III & IV 
Julia Reidy – 12-string guitar on III & IV 
Joe Talia – drums on the whole Shebang 

Executive Producers: Konrad Sprenger & Dick Wolf