Levitation Chicago: Swervedriver, Atlas Sound, Lumerians, Oren Ambarchi, Heat Leisure, Vision Fortune, Christines, Gateway Drugs | Thalia Hall | Fairs & Festivals | Chicago Reader
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Levitation Chicago: Swervedriver, Atlas Sound, Lumerians, Oren Ambarchi, Heat Leisure, Vision Fortune, Christines, Gateway Drugs 

When: Sat., March 14, 6 p.m. 2015
Price: $25-$35
Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi has been on a serious tear in recent years, working with a widening circle of musicians and adapting his approach without ever compromising his curious, ever-seeking sound. Though he grew up ingesting recordings of 60s free jazz, Ambarchi eventually discovered and mastered a broader application of those improvisational principles—and he keeps finding new landscapes to explore in his playing. On last year’s massive Tikkun (Cuneiform) he collaborated with French prog-rock icon Richard Pinhas, unleashing a dense, texture-rich manifestation of ambient music that happens to be bruisingly loud and detailed. An equal level of lapidary beauty emerges on last year’s Quixoticism (Editions Mego), which is an exquisitely patient, restrained suite built from meticulously arranged patterns and instrumental colors. Sparse piano tones by AMM’s John Tilbury, Arabic-tinged viola by Eyvind Kang, and shimmering synthesizer patterns by Jim O’Rourke cumulatively reflect Ambarchi’s rich guitar even though it’s not playing a leading role. Likewise, the terrific new duo album with O’Rourke, Behold (Editions Mego), is a relatively subdued affair. A finely wrought tension percolates through two side-long pieces as pulsing organ, flickering electronics, and gossamer guitar noise billow and wheeze over Ambarchi’s simple, slowly swinging beats. Finally there’s Live Knots (PAN), an epic live recording with frequent drum collaborator Joe Talia that features a pair of massive, surging slabs of striated guitar morphing between sounding like an overdriven organ and a drill (the second adds violist Kang for even greater depth and viscosity). All of this is only to say that Ambarchi’s live performances are impossible to predict, but I’ve yet to be let down by any of them. —Peter Margasak Tonight is part two of Levitation Chicago.

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