One way to enhance a Richard Pinhas performance is to have two Richard Pinhas’ performing at once. Tikkun, part of a pair of Pinhas May 27, 2014 releases (the other being Welcome In The Void) doesn’t quite clone him but in fellow outward-thinking effects guitarist Oren Ambarchi, Pinhas found a kindred soul with which to collaborate.
Ambarchi’s history doesn’t stretch back as far as Pinhas, who first made a name for himself leading the pioneering electronic rock ensemble Heldon, but the Jewish Iraqi-Australian’s list of collaborations remain impressive: Otomo Yoshihide, Merzbow, John Zorn, Evan Parker and Jim O’Rourke are among a list of noise and avant-garde luminaires he’s worked with in the past.
As master manipulators of electronic sound commanded from a customized axe, Pinhas and Ambarchi with drums by Joe Talia construct the three extended pieces that take minimalism to exotic places. I can’t discern who is responsible for what part, and the roles are further muddied with a “second circle” of artists — Merzbow, Duncan Pinhas and Eric Borelva — adding finishing touches to the overall product. However, the end result makes such distinctions irrelevant.
“Washington, D.C. – T4V1” is fashioned around a looped circular synth riff, and Pinhas, I am presuming, is piling on his metallic layers. Talias’ drums eventually enter, barely heard over the din but still noticeable as more layers discreetly pile on. Pinhas and Ambarchi modulate these layers so that they mutate over time right at the perceptible level. Things gets a little less abrasive and glass surfaced, and then it loses density, reduces almost down to a whisper, a prelude to icy chunks of guitar that come cascading down.
A clanging white noise ushers in “Tokyo – T4V2,” and when Talia devises a groove around it, it immediately begins to take shape. The groove gets increasingly strident, thanks not just to the drummer but also how Pinhas and Ambarchi incorporate additional sounds in building their perfect beast. When the drums depart, the piece heads to its conclusion with descending streams of falling chords.
“San Francisco – T2V2” begins with scattered noises like a faux copter whirr, followed by choppy and static-y clatter. The buzzing sounds against the smooth synth backdrop is example of how Pinhas, along with Ambarchi, can masterfully integrate two opposing noises into a coherent sound that’s all his. Talia’s drums eventually enter, settling into an appropriate tempo and becoming part of this solid-state sound craft.
The philosophy behind Tikkun is the rejuvenation of the world following the breakdown of society caused by “modernity and technology.” The redemptive sonorities of this album hold true to those principles.
Tikkun is available on Cuneiform Records.