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Oren Ambrachi's 10 Years Of Black Truffle playlist

April 2019

Australian musician and label head celebrates ten years of releases

Oren Ambarchi hosts a three-day residency at London’s Cafe Oto starting on 11 May. The Sydney born guitarist and drummer is marking his 50th birthday and the tenth anniversary of his Black Truffle imprint with several shows, featuring performances by close-collaborators and label affiliates such as Eiko Ishibashi, Alvin Curran and David Toop, among others. These tracks were selected by Ambarchi to form a mixed compilation, which will be released by Kompakt on 10 May. The musician answered some questions about the project over email.

How did you choose the tracks for this mix?

It was put together almost like a freeform performance. I thought I'd start with the Eiko Ishibashi/Darin Gray track and go from there, responding to what was playing on-the-fly with another track from the catalogue. It was a little challenging as so many releases on the label have pieces that are of a side-long duration so some pieces needed to be edited or a particular section of a piece would only be featured.

Can you select a few tracks from the mix and tell us in more detail how and why they stuck out to you?

James Rushford “The Body's Night Side B”
From The Body's Night

James is a close collaborator and friend who is super talented and this piece is from his new solo album.
I love the strange atmosphere, how understated it is and all the meticulous detail that’s hidden below the surface. These days so much music seems to be so heavy-handed, hitting people over the head with ideas. James's work is very ambiguous, with an odd, underlying tension. If you listen really closely there is always something new to discover within it.

Ruedi Häusermann “Susanna Im Bade”
From Galerie Randolph

This is one of those bizarre, uncategorisable records that is completely unique. Häusermann is a little known older Swiss composer/artist/theatre director who is incredibly prolific yet most of his work has no distribution.
I love how singleminded this release is and its subtle surreal humour, it's really in a world of its own. Hats off to Jim O'Rourke for turning me onto this one 15 years ago.

Paul DeMarinis “Kokole”
From Songs Without Throats

This album is a mindblower. DeMarinis was a close collaborator of Robert Ashley, David Behrman and David Tudor but I feel like his work has somehow been overlooked. The album primarily focuses on DeMarinis's work with primitive vocal synthesis and the digital analysis of speech sounds from the 1970s to the 90s. The results are both uncompromisingly alien yet totally catchy and accessible. I was absolutely elated to release this material, excitedly playing it over and over to guests that came over for an aperitif, watching in glee as their jaws dropped.

Annea Lockwood “Tiger Balm”
From Tiger Balm/Amazonia Dreaming/Immersion
AMM “After Rapidly Circling The Plaza”
From AMMMUSIC
Keiji Haino “Milky Way”
From 天乃川 1973 LIVE MILKY WAY
David Rosenboom “Piano Etude I (Alpha)”
From Brainwave Music

All of these are classic releases that were aeons ahead of their time and are still beautifully radical and fresh today. The AMM is from 1966 and Haino from 1973 respectively, I mean, wow! Lockwood's “Tiger Balm” is absolutely singular, what an honour to work with such an inspiring artist on this mysterious, dream-like classic. Rosenboom's Brainwave Music is a classic of electronic music that's never been reissued on vinyl. It's been thrilling and rewarding to work closely with these artists, going back to the master tapes and help make these landmark releases available again, hopefully to a newer audience.

Eyvind Kang/Jessika Kenney “Thoughts On Being Exiled To The Frontier (For Lord Wei)”
From Reverse Tree

Eyvind and Jessika are the best, they are so freaking talented. They don't really ‘fit in’ to a particular scene which might be why they are under-appreciated. I love how this piece is both tranquil and lulling yet subtly uneasy and alien.

What is Black Truffle's ethos?

Basically I release works that I’m excited about, whether it’s re-releasing older works that are I feel are important or overlooked/under the radar, or newer works from colleagues and friends, in addition to some of my own collaborations. Many of the newer releases are from artists that I feel are 'family', people whom I love collaborating with, like crys cole, Joe Talia, Eiko Ishibashi, Francis Plagne, James Rushford, Julia Reidy, Jim O'Rourke, Jessika Kenney, Kassel Jaeger, Will Guthrie etc. People whom I love as people but people who also inspire me with their work – I always want to hear what they’re working on and I feel lucky that I can champion their work and give them a platform to get it out there.

Many of the reissues are from older artists that are incredibly important to me – Alvin Lucier, Annea Lockwood, AMM, Keiji Haino, Charlemagne Palestine, John Duncan, Alvin Curran, Massimo Toniutti etc. These artists opened my ears and gave me the energy and inspiration to do my own thing. In general I love stuff that is difficult to define, the more baffled I am by it the more allure it has for me. The problem is I get excited about so many things and want to release it all!

How has the label adapted to stay relevant over the past ten years?

Initially it started off as a vehicle for reissuing older, out-of-print titles of mine, I didn't really consider it a label as such. Somehow it has slowly turned into a ‘label’. I don't know how relevant it is, I simply release titles that I am passionate about and try and make the releases look and sound as beautiful as I can, keeping them as close to the vision of the artist as possible.

Running the label is a labour of love. It sometimes takes years of detective work and correspondence to make a release happen, with plenty of roadblocks along the way, so it can be quite challenging, especially as I'm constantly touring. But if the artist is stoked with how their release has turned out that's a really rewarding feeling – hopefully some people out there check it out and connect with it.

Tracklist

Eiko Ishibashi & Darin Gray
“Ichida Part 2”
From Ichida 2018

Alvin Lucier
“Criss-Cross”
From Criss-Cross/Hanover 2018

Keiji Haino
“Milky Way”
From 天乃川 1973 LIVE MILKY WAY 2016

Max Eastley/Steve Beresford/Paul Burwell/David Toop
“Suffolk (b)”
From Whirled Music 2018

James Rushford
“The Body's Night Side B”
From The Body's Night 2019

Massimo Toniutti
“Lento & Antico”
From Il Museo Selvatico 2018

Oren Ambarchi/Kassel Jaeger/James Rushford
“Face”
From Face Time 2018

Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke/Oren Ambarchi
“Only Wanting To Melt... Part 1”
From Only Wanting To Melt Beautifully Away Is It A Lack Of Contentment That Stirs Affection 2014

David Rosenboom
“Piano Etude I (Alpha)”
From Brainwave Music 2019

John Duncan
“Mass”
From Klaar 2017

Ruedi Häusermann
“Susanna im Bade”
From Galerie Randolph 2019

Paul DeMarinis
“Kokole”
From Songs Without Throats 2019

Arnold Dreyblatt
“The Odd Fellows”
From Second Selection 2015

Will Guthrie
“Creeper”
From People Pleaser 2017

Oren Ambarchi
“It Ain’t Humid But It Sure Is Hot”
From Stacte Karaoke II 2017

crys cole & Oren Ambarchi
“Burrata”
From Hotel Record 2017

Annea Lockwood
“Tiger Balm”
From Tiger Balm/Amazonia Dreaming/Immersion 2017

crys cole
“Layna”
From Sand/Layna 2015

Alvin Curran
“Natural History Part 2”
From Natural History 2016

Oren Ambarchi/Kassel Jaeger/James Rushford
“Calling”
From Pale Calling 2016

Giancarlo Toniutti
“The Tree”
From La Mutazione 2015

Eyvind Kang/Jessika Kenney
“Thoughts On Being Exiled To The Frontier (For Lord Wei)”
From Reverse Tree 2016

Phew/Oren Ambarchi/Jim O’Rourke
“Patience Soup Part 1”
From Patience Soup 2019

AMM
“After Rapidly Circling The Plaza”
From AMMMUSIC 2016

Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke/Oren Ambarchi
“Only Wanting To Melt.. Part 2”
From Only Wanting To Melt Beautifully Away Is It A Lack Of Contentment That Stirs Affection 2014

Joe Talia
“Clouded Night Part 1”
From Tint BT037

Francis Plagne & crys cole
“Two Words”
From Two Words 2018

Oren Ambarchi At 50, Black Truffle At 10 takes place at Cafe Oto 11–13 May

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