Live Review: Oren Ambarchi & Joe Talia

20 February 2013 | 2:08 pm | Chris James

A little short on quantity, it was nonetheless a display of sympathetic talents creating something rare and rewarding.

More commonly associated with your mate's garage band than a night of esoteric instruments, drones and mesmerising atmospherics, the dusky, red ochre walls of Mojo's made for a surprisingly fitting venue for Club Zho's latest presentation of 'outsider' talent.

Local producer and 'zine writer Alex “Emerald Cabal” got the weird rolling with a solo laptop set of spacious, subtly sinister drones and reverberating beats. With his gaze intensely fixated on his tools, Campbell's “nothing ventured, nothing gained” approach to audience interaction was a bit mood dampening and the abrupt ending sparked some hesitant applause as onlookers wondered whether there was a sudden hardware failure, but throughout his set there was an intriguing trail of shifting tones and evolving beats that inspired plenty of nodding and the occasional slightly self-conscious fist pump.

Craig McElhinney then set about reducing piles of pre-recorded discs into audio-sludge through all manner of mysterious gizmos set out on a wobbly table top. Intently hunched over his mixing desk, he was a picture of concentration as he diligently poured over the knobs, incorporating all manner of thick-bodied sounds, from industrial grind to what might once have been devotional chanting, before it got put through the ringer, coalescing into a soupy din that was occasionally disturbing but mostly fun.

With the aid of free jazz drummer Joe Talia, Oren Ambarchi embarked on a single, continuous piece of music, very much in the vein of Knots, a track on which the pair collaborated for Ambarchi's Audience Of One album. Improvising around a loose structure, Ambarchi channelled waves of guitar feedback into closely controlled timbres as Talia's resourcefulness and flexible sense of rhythm made him a responsive pacesetter. From an alluring, meditative start, the tempo intensified to a cymbal-crashing crescendo. If there was a note of disappointment it came as the set eased to a close after a smidgeon less than 40 entrancing minutes. Ambarchi asked that we give it up for Talia before shuffling off. It was a bit like hearing the click of a hypnotist's fingers, awakening and wondering where the time had passed. A little short on quantity, it was nonetheless a display of sympathetic talents creating something rare and rewarding.