Following nearly 20 years of working together as a trio, and numerous cross-collaborations in different configuration between them, Ideologic Organ presents Placelessness, the debut full-length by Chris Abrahams, Oren Ambarchi, and Robbie Avenaim, comprising two long-form works at juncture of ambient music, minimalism, rigorous experimentalism and improvisation, and machine music.
Having carved distinct pathways across a diverse number of musical idioms for decades, Chris Abrahams, Oren Ambarchi, and Robbie Avenaim are each, respectively, among the most noteworthy and groundbreaking figures to have emerged from Australia’s thriving experimental music scene. Ambarchi and Avenaim first encountered Abrahams when seeing the Necks - the project that has served as the primary vehicle for his singular approach to the piano since its founding in 1987 - together during the late 1980s, not long after having met in Sydney’s underground music community. The pair’s collaborations date back more than 35 years, criss-crossing Ambarchi’s pioneering solo and ensemble work for guitar and Avenaim’s visionary efforts for SARPS (Semi Automated Robotic Percussion System), robotic and kinetic extensions to his drum kit.
In 2004, fate brought the three together in a trio performance at the What Is Music? Festival, the annual touring showcase of experimental music founded and run by Ambarchi and Avenaim between 1994-2012. For the nearly two decades since, Abrahams, Ambarchi, and Avenaim have intermittently reformed in exclusively live contexts, in Australia and abroad, cultivating and refining the fertile ground first tilled in that early meeting. Placelessness is the first album to present this remarkable trio’s efforts in recorded form.
Placelessness is the joining of three highly individualised streams, working in perfect harmony; the point at which friendship, mutual respect, and decades of creative exploration produce a singular spectrum of sound. Featuring Abrahams on piano, Ambarchi on guitar, and Avenaim on drums, the album’s two sides draw on each artist’s enduring dedication to long-form composition. Its two pieces, Placelessness I and Placelessness II, initially began as a single, 40 minute work, before being divided and reworked into distinct, complimentary gestures for the corresponding sides of the LP.
Beginning with restrained clusters of reverberant piano tones, Placelessness I progresses at an almost glacial pace, with Abrahams’ interventions increasing met by sparse responses, darting within vast ambiences, on guitar and percussion by Ambarchi and Avenaim. Remarkably conversational within its convergences of tonal, rhythmic, and textural abstraction, over the work’s duration a progressive sense of tension unfurls and contracts, refusing release, as each of the ensemble’s members contribute to an increasingly tangled sense of density at its resolve.
While an entirely autonomous work, Placelessness II rapidly realises a distillation of the energy hinted at across the length of its predecessor. Following a luring passage of harmonious calm, Abrahams’ launches into shimmering lines of repeating arpeggios, complimented at each escalation of tempo by Avenaim’s machine gun fire percussion work and Ambarchi’s masterful delivery of tonality and texture, as the trio collectively generate dense sheets of pointillistic ambience within which individual identity is almost lost, before slowly unspooling into unexpected abstractions and dissonances that deftly intervene with the work’s inner logic and calm.
What could easily be termed a maximalist take on Minimalism, Placelessness is a masterstroke of contemporary, real time composition, that blurs the boundaries between ambient music, experimentalism, free improvisation, and machine music. Drawing on Chris Abrahams, Oren Ambarchi, and Robbie Avenaim’s decades of respective solo and collaborative practice, and the culmination of nearly twenty years of working together as a trio, it’s two durational pieces - Placelessness I and Placelessness II - take form with a startling sense of effortlessness and grace, neither shying away from explicit beauty or rigorously tension within their forms.