The Vanishing is the long-awaited return of abstract electronic duo Oren Ambarchi & Martin Ng, in a remarkable collaboration with the acclaimed new music group Ensemble Offspring. Working together with the ensemble in 2013 for a series of concerts & recording sessions, Ambarchi & Ng developed a suite of pieces that build on the distinctive sonic language established by their three previous duo albums - released between 2000 & 2006 - of ringing bell-like tones & sustained hums with a new palette of acoustic textures. Recording material together as a duo as they had in the past, Ambarchi & Ng then supervised Ensemble Offspring as they recreated these recordings on their instruments, using the original recordings as audio scores.The result is a disorienting play of mirroring & imitation that blurs the boundaries between acoustic & electronic sound.
On the opening piece, the aptly named ‘Simulacrum I’, bowed violin harmonics mimic feedback tones & dispersed vibraphone attacks recall the glitching bell textures prominent in Ambarchi & Ng’s earlier work for electric guitar & turntable, which were themselves often uncannily reminiscent of acoustic sounds such as Tibetan prayer bowls. On ‘Woods’, two vibrating bass drums create an ominous landscape of rumbling tones that call to mind Ambarchi’s past work with abstract doom lords Sunn O))). Channelling giants of 20th century music such as Giacinto Scelsi & Luigi Nono, as well as contemporary composers like Klaus Lang, the restrained palette of strings & percussion present throughout the record creates a distinct sound world, yet each of the five pieces possesses its own compositional identity. On ‘Recife’ (arranged by Australian composer James Rushford), Ambarchi & Ng’s guitar & turntables join Ensemble Offspring for one of the record’s highlights, a delicate tapestry woven from subtly overlapping sonic events.
Finally, the closing side-long title piece acts as the perfect summation of the record as a whole: beginning in silence, it builds into a densely buzzing texture of closely tuned harmonics before gently returning to the silence from which it came. Intended as the next step in a continuing project in which Ambarchi & Ng will go on to use these two LPs directly as part of their live performances, The Vanishing is a unique document of two artists reimagining the potential of their previous work, made possible through collaboration with a group of world-class musicians.