Oren Ambarchi / Stefano Pilia / Massimo Pupillo Aithein

[Karl; 2016]

Styles: improvised, post-rock, ambient, experimental
Others: Sunn O))), Caspar Brötzmann, Brian Eno

Some nights, it is late. One night it was, and you were hungry enough to eat both of us. And you thought about what it would mean to eat both of us.

We drive along the ridge of the 210 where signal fades into dark desert hill schema. I think it’s just beyond Sunland. We’ve been listening to the new Fear of Men so much, Fall Forever. We’d like to draw each other’s spines. We’d like to draw each other. Bring our attention to the air, splitting signals, ions breaking, glowing. It’s not hard for me to take that place and replace its black empty with Aurora Borealis — although, I’ve never seen it.

It was Eno’s on Another Green World. On “St. Elmo’s Fire.” He sings: “Well we rested in a desert/ Where the bones were white as teeth, sir/ And we saw St. Elmo’s Fire/ Splitting ions in the ether,” then he tells Fripp to play it. And he does. And I don’t think you’ve heard it.

Light pollutes. And smog catches. It hides the stars. And though the matte gray is a wall above us, it feels so much more empty than astrological sights. We descend stairs in total darkness and you say, “walk like you’re blind.” Then you say, “that’s not how you would walk.” Firmament transformed, now vector space, available for notation.

I haven’t seen St. Elmo’s Fire, the movie or the phenomenon. I’d like to see both. I’d like to rest quietly on a bed of sound: harmonic and immaterial, like plasma. Timbre that rests until it rises. Timber too, suddenly igniting.

We think about ambiance. We think about groove and ascension, about staying grounded and getting high. You cancelled a subscription yesterday. Money’s getting tighter. I’d sell some records, but then I’d have no records. I spent the first part of summer picking a scab from when I fell in North Park. In San Diego. I sold some records. Now, the scab has healed completely, and I can only imagine that it was ever really there.

I Googled “aithein definition.” People also ask:

1. Is ether volatile?
2. What is the definition of ethereal?
3. What does it mean to be ETHERED?

“Diethyl ether… a colorless, highly volatile flammable liquid. It is commonly used as a solvent and was once used as a general anesthetic. Ethereal is something airy and insubstantial, such as a ghostly figure at the top of the stairs. It might also be something delicate and light, like a translucent fabric, or a singer’s delicate voice. Ether, or æther, was the mysterious substance once thought to suffuse the universe and be the medium that propagated light (and radio waves once they were discovered). Before that, it was the material that suffused the realm of the Gods.”

What does it mean to be ethered?

Aithein documents its trio live in Bologna, Italy in April 2015. On Side A, “Burn,” Ambarchi, Pilia, and Pupillo work up novel and well-timed sounds between two guitars and a bass, respectively. This improvisation is patient but consistent, its momentum and vocabulary in line with Eno ambient. The latter two-thirds of the album, “Shine,” includes Ambarchi on drums, shifting the inert spaciousness to a gradual post-rock climb. The performance is idiomatically grounded and overtly familiar, but its churning cathartic gesture is refreshingly energetic and matter-of-fact. There’s little standoffish abrasion or subversion here, just a concise statement of material and style: a satisfying, unchallenging listen for an inducted ear.

Links: Karl