Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling, Andreas Werliin ‘Ghosted’ LP
Pre-order. Due 15th April.
It was November 2018 that Oren Ambarchi, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin met at Studio Rymden, in a quiet, pretty suburban district of Stockholm, to make the music that became ‘Ghosted’. They can’t remember exactly when it was made because that time - the when and where that it was recorded - doesn’t really matter anymore. Now the music of ‘Ghosted’ exists in the intention of a shared moment of playing, a clearly delineated time, put forth with a steady flow of small details on bass, guitar and drums, in a remarkable display of rhythmic flexibility within a minimal framework.
Oren and Johan have met many times onstage and off since 2003, with several duo recordings to their credit, as well as additional encounters in the group Fire! with Mats Gustafsson and drummer Andreas Werliin. A while back, Oren and Johan decided to reconvene in the studio for a furthering of the thought process that they’d come to on the second Ambarchi / Berthling collaboration, 2015’s ‘Tongue Tied’. As Andreas had mixed that session, it felt right to have him on kit - he’d already been intimately involved in the process.
The music they all play together in Fire! is, to put it mildly, loud. This session, they sensed an opportunity to explore different dynamics - to tap, perhaps, a shared inner ECM space. Studio Rymden sits on an upper floor of the building it’s located in, and the light coming through the windows was pleasant on that day. They set up, picked out some amps (including the best-sounding Leslie speaker Oren’s ever heard) and got started.
Rooting in the rich tonality and repeating figures of Johan’s acoustic (and sometimes electric) bass, the four tracks that make up ‘Ghosted’ act as variations on a theme, unspooling continuously over the course of 39 minutes with the terse flow of krautrock jams - closely observed percussive riffs and repetitions that build continuously with subtle shifts as they move forward, with the small details flying expansively in and out across the stereo spectrum. Oren’s guitar often sounds with an organ-like tone, with notes of fire and glass wafting out over the percolation and permutation in Johan and Andreas’ rhythms. These men have been playing long enough to, without any real words, shape their improvisations with short- and long-term goals.
Performances that day ranged from almost five minutes to almost sixteen. With an eye toward further expansion, they’d invited the legendary Swedish reed player Christer Bothén, whose knowledge of the guimbri and donso n’goni was incisively shared with the great Don Cherry some fifty years ago. Christer plays donso n’goni on the first track, and his parts sync like cogs in a watch, revolving in fluid coordination with Oren, Johan and Andreas.
Mixed and mastered by Joe Talia at Good Mixture, Berlin, ‘Ghosted’ highlights the intimate dialogue between players, as well as the careful curation of space between them. It is rare to think of silence in relation to music where everyone is constantly playing - and yet, listening to this, we do.
Once it was all done, Pål Dybwik’s misty, nocturnal basketball court images seemed to embody the spirit of the album, while once more steering it in a direction that nobody had stopped to imagine, because this was just something in the air.
Catalogue number: DC838
Label: Drag City