Oren Ambarchi Clockwork

[Jerker/Room 40; 1999]

Rating: 4/5

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

A gong echoes through empty, contemplative hallways. Long and short hands wrapped round the day, past evening gloom, now reaching deep into night. Synthetic comets transverse the speckled sky. The sifting sound of electric sand tossed by high tide. An outside draft whistles through pores in the upper hull, brushes the chimes hanging from the mast. A blip on the receiver. A second gong.  Hidden doorways open and close. Scuffling sounds from unknown sources. Pitch high bell bowed. Supernatural caterwauls emit from liquid portals. Another signal. The gong's sonorous vibration shakes the organs, causing impulses to fire across synapses. Muscles triggered, twitch. Everything stirs. Monks return to the now, rise and inhabit view posts, kindle lamps to light the court. Critters scutter through the pipes, through the walls, in the cupboards. Miniature claws sparking the surfaces of ancient clay ducts and crumbling kaolin teapots. Dropped bamboo sticks scatter along the brick. A wind-up gamelan ensemble begins stuttering and stumbling into action, inner-mechanisms turning, rotating, and picking up speed. Tick-tock percussion. Pulsing bells, metallic pitter-pats and skittering mallets. The signal grows stronger, clearer, warbling in the room next door, as dials are turned and levers are pulled. The wind chimes subjected to greater aleatoric swings; whistling walls rise in pitch. The shuffling of innumerable footsteps along the wooden deck. A strong gale heaves the ship. The signal weaves aft and fro, a slippery specter of chance vectors. Rooms and hallways alive with movement. The kitchen clangs. Pots and pans pulled from shelves, boiled and battered. Chambers prepped for weary travelers. Linens and sheets shifted and stretched across pallets. Ropes pulled. Cogs twist. Rudder turns. Ship and temple fill with converging and diverging sounds, growing in density and intensity, aggregating in a sound field of chaotic machinery — echo chambers of unbeknownst interaction, unrealized play. Land struck. A gong announces the end.

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