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Richard Pinhas & Oren Ambarchi
Tikkun Aug Stone , September 16th, 2014 14:05

This is music that demands and deserves our attention. You might as well tune in, it's going to get it anyway. Tikkun is the Kabbalistic idea that our souls have come to the physical plane to make a correction. And Richard Pinhas and Oren Ambarchi's cosmic juggernaut reflects perfectly the strength of character needed to plow on into the psyche to sort out its defects. In word and concept, 'Tikkun' has appeared before on Pinhas' Metatron ('the living flame of God', another Kabbalistic notion). Pinhas states, "the concept of Tikkun is Immense, Very very Big and Important. It is about the spiritual creation of our world, a kind of parable. To repair something deeply Broken is the Point…"

The album begins with a relentless ascending bassline. Pulverising, as if bashing at its confines, set on nothing short of destroying and propelling past the powerful bonds that keep humanity down. Being so expressive of the whole idea of Tikkun, one forgets that this is not a title track but rather, 'Washington, D.C.'. And like all great art, it defies an easy interpretation. On many levels the sound is so personal, reflecting the sheer magnitude of the task and all that is at stake, but given the name of the piece, does it not also depict the frantic energy in areas of concentrated power and how much more difficult it is for ego-frenzied groups to transcend their own shortcomings?

Wild guitar atmospherics soon begin to illuminate hidden outer depths and lead lines rip across this turbulent sky. Throughout its 30 plus minutes–every second captivating–diverse whorls of feedback entice the ear. Walls (of sound and otherwise) may be implied but these are gigantic writhing creatures. Beyond the usual left and right, agitators in the sonic field churn, glide, and progress betwixt above and below as well as forwards and back. Mighty processions, whether they be huge swathes of noise or flickering spectral dots. That bass stays valiantly in throughout almost the entirety of the piece, thrusting well beyond the known that it was railing against. And when both fall away, 'Washington, D.C.' has not so much mellowed out as found itself in the twilit arena of an even stranger land.

The drumming is particularly impressive throughout the record's three tracks. Joe Talia and Eric Borelva provide this percussive engine – full-on assaulting the entire kit, pulsing along with just a cymbal, or laying out completely, each as called for - worthy of its duty in traversing such perilous terrain. 'Tokyo' opens to expansive uneasy feedback and a disjointed but steady-in-its-own-way beat soon kicks in, hi-hats sounding particularly crisp. The rhythm firms up amidst swirl upon swirl of guitars that hang like a vast tunnel of light, always just ahead as you make your way towards it. Around the five minute mark, the instruments boom in time with the drums, punctuations stomping deep in the ground, kicking up layers of dust and leaving giant footprints. Solid and groovy, 'Tokyo' is indeed of the earth, as opposed to 'Washington, D.C.'s frantic wrenching out into the stellar distance. At ten minutes in, the drums sound as if they're in a huge underground cavern.

If 'Tokyo' is ground level and 'Washington, D.C.' of the skies, then final track 'San Francisco' is very definitely the horizon, occupying as it does the middle distance between. 'SF' takes its time - distant whirring punctuated by solitary bass notes or ear-piercing feedback precede drones, insect-esque buzzing, and gurgling synths entering the wide yet sparse atmosphere. Light flutters begin to hint at melody, or at least melodic lines. These grow more crazed, madmen rushing to take centrestage before just as unpredictably running off again. The drums enter this air of turbulence at seven minutes thirty seconds. Rugged and frenetic, propelling towards those huge sonic atmospheres again. Later giant steadying clouds of feedback hover over the proceedings. And at 17 minutes in, bold shafts of light appear, the sonic territory now wide open as far as the ear can reach.

Besides the rhythm masters mentioned above, Pinhas and Ambarchi are joined by Masami Akita (Merzbow), and Pinhas' son, Duncan, on "loops, noiz, sequences, and FX". Tikkun is one of two Pinhas releases in 2014, the other being Welcome In The Void (credited to Pinhas and drummer Yoshida Tatsuya), the second part of Pinhas' 'Devolution Trilogy' begun with 2013's Desolation Row. Pinhas explains the trilogy "is about the historical-political effect of machines and neo-liberalism, and their attempts to put people back into slavery. It is a cry to revolt against slavery. The trilogy is concerned with the devolution of mankind, of civilisation, capitalism's devolution, and mainly the devolution of human/biological faculties – and how all this is related to the rise of machines."

Tikkun stands apart from these other two records, and yet of course there are similarities. As well as the huge entrancing atmospheres tumultuously skidding and rising across dark tarmac, there's the power and insistence of the drums, provided in part by Ambarchi on Desolation Row (he's also credited with 'Guitar And ElectroniX', Borelva also appears here on drumZ [sic]). This is compelling music, each piece a difficult excursion into the heart of something obscure, not wishing to be discovered. But, as has often been noted, this is the only way to obtain the purest treasures, the journey itself being an integral part of the process. We listen in wonder, with the sense that something of importance is constantly being revealed, but its scope too vast to fully comprehend. And these momentary glimpses move on, and on.

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