Oren Ambarchi – Stacte Karaoke front cover

OREN AMBARCHI: Stacte Karaoke (12″, Black Truffle BT13, 2014)

Oren Ambarchi – Stacte Karaoke front cover

As so often happens, here is a record that I have no recollection of buying. But buy it I did, and probably on the basis that Oren Ambarchi (“composer, multi-instrumentalist and musical polymath” – thanks, orenambarchi.com) is one of many oft-cited names in the complex world of experimental music, and therefore, one that somebody like me feels compelled to investigate. Turns out, according to my spreadsheet – and, more, humanly, by me spotting it next to this record on my shelf – this isn’t the only Oren Ambarchi record I own. So there you go. Having a large record collection can be a constant world of wonder.

Black Truffle is a cool label run by Ambarchi himself, and it’s put out gigantic numbers of releases, including by Keiji Haino, Jim O’Rourke, Phew, Alvin Lucier and many, many, many others. Listening back to Stacte Karaoke – albeit on Bandcamp, at minimal volume, as my daughter has just gone off to sleep – I’m pleased to report that it’s a great record. “Milk A Cow With A Monkey Wrench” sounds like Status Quo played by Faust; “Park It Where The Sun Don’t Shine” is an impressively singular exploration of an exceptionally good guitar riff. It’s guitar music, sure enough, but of a kind that is obviously the work of somebody deeply entrenched in a long history of weirdness.

The artwork is nice: the record is wrapped in a matte-finish sleeve, with a front cover depicting a devilish, cheeky, carved piece of orange peel. Artist and record name are presented in clean, image-hugging type – set in Helvetica Neue 56, perhaps? The back cover image is fantastic: a pissed-off looking orange cat (whose colour is similar to that of the orange peel on the front) glaring at an almost-eaten fish on a giant dinner plate. The images are by Norwegian noise artist Lasse Marhaug (front) and Canadian sound artist Crys Cole (back); the cover design is by SOMA, aka Sunn o)))’s Stephen O’Malley. So Ambarchi’s got a hefty Rolodex full of top-flight leftfield music buddies, and here three of them have come together to wrap a record with a fine pair of songs in an equally fine piece of artwork.

Oren Ambarchi – Stacte Karaoke back cover

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