On the orbit of balance

On the orbit of balance
On the Ambaát ensemble’s concert at the Fourth Tehran Contemporary Music Festival
by Mehdi Seyedinejad

Second day of electronic/experimental section of the festival was dedicated to electronic performance accompanied by electric guitar, by the Icelandic ensemble Ambaát. The ensemble consists of Pan Thorarensen and Þorkell Atlason. From the beginning we are engaged with a slow and contemplative series of chords which progress on after the other. In each sonic level, and with a slow gradient, pitches move to the highest intensity and then fade slowly. After around 6 minutes from the beginning, suddenly and in a high point, this atmosphere is replaced with natural sounds (like sounds of birds and water). Then again, the previous atmosphere slowly re-emerges and tries to merge into this sounds. Gradually, the initial atmosphere takes shape but this time we can hear short, few note melodies in the background.

These three parts develop from each other with ease and this makes the audience to constantly look for new sonic events. As such, we are faced with a one-hour continuous performance with smaller parts within it that although represent themselves in a smooth succession, but they are distinct. In this regard, it seems that Ambaát tries to give a kind of formal regularity to its work and by this takes the audience with itself.

Appearance of repetitive rhythmic motives in certain parts indicates that Ambaát does not shy away from being affected by different types of music in its experimental path. In addition, and in line with this approach, thematically loaded melodies and chords with tonal associations have a certain amount of significance in the work. This can remind us of progressive rock concerts and also, continuous repetition of a melody and gradual addition and resolving of sonic layers creates an ecstasy similar to of ambient music. Ambaát chooses an approach in its experimental path that is affected by various musical sources and puts each one in an orbit and creates a system of balance. Not so much dependent to search and playing with new timbres and not necessarily dependent to melody, rhythm and form.

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