Johan Berthling My Days Are Darker Than Your Nights (w/ Oren Ambarchi)

[Häpna; 2003]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: post-minimalism, electro-acoustic improvisation
Others: Martin Ng, Kevin Drumm, Fennesz

Sydney, Australia-based sound manipulator Oren Ambarchi is (at a somewhat young age) standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of history’s finest avant-garde musicians. To look at the long list of works he’s already accomplished would make one’s eyes swim. The main focus of Ambarchi’s work is on the electric guitar; but not in the same context that we are all used to. Although he’s known for being a part-time drummer for a band called Phlegm, Ambarchi’s spotlight is aimed at breaking outside the box of typical guitar chords and hammering right for single note oblivion. Take his new album, My Days Are Darker Than Your Nights, with harmonium aficionado Johan Berthling, for example. It’s a sprawling 31-minute track that glides with spacious levels of high-pitched guitar drones. It’s somewhat similar to that of a Kevin Drumm album, devoid of the throat-cutting ferociousness.

Still, this is not music that is highly accessible to the ear. Sustained notes that have never-ending destinations are paired with subtle undertones of what appears to be same-note sounds of Berthling’s harmonium. One thought carries for an extended period of time before changing course to head down a new path. The fact remains true that Ambarchi is creating music that will lend itself well to the experienced (and elitist) music lover, and My Days Are Darker Than Your Nights is no exception. The only problem I have with this particular release is that there isn’t a whole lot of substance for the amount of work that probably went into assembling its packaging.

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