Oren Ambarchi and Crys Cole open the Frequency Festival with entrancing sound worldson February 14, 2020 at 10:15 pm

Sound artists Oren Ambarchi and Crys Cole have both had thrilling careers. Ambarchi has run experimental label Black Truffle for more than a decade, and he’s collaborated with a wide array of avant-garde luminaries, including Sunn O))), Keiji Haino, and Keith Rowe and John Tilbury (both veterans of long-running UK improvising group AMM). Last year, the Australian musician released the resplendent solo LP Simian Angel (on Austrian label Editions Mego) right in the middle of summer, which felt like perfect timing: its two long-form pieces invoke hot, humid weather. “Palm Sugar Candy” weaves conga, guitar, and gauzy synths into a meditative tableau, inviting listeners to soak in every curious melody and texture. Crys Cole, born in Canada and based in Berlin, has also taken part in impressive collaborations over the past decade, including the duo Ora Clementi with Australian composer James Rushford, but her solo albums are some of her most exciting. Like Simian Angel, her upcoming Beside Myself (Students of Decay) features two pieces that each take up a full side of an LP. “The Nonsuch” is inspired by aural hallucinations and conjures its queasy atmosphere with squabbling electronics, field recordings, ASMR-like vocalizing, and unidentifiable noises, all of which combine to give it a hypnotic, inscrutable mystique. The artists will each play a solo set to kick off Chicago’s annual Frequency Festival, booked by former Reader music critic Peter Margasak as an extension of his year-round series. Ambarchi will improvise with a guitar, a Leslie cabinet (an amplifier that uses rotating horns or drums to produce tremolo with a literal Doppler effect), and other electronics; Cole will present an electroacoustic set combining live and prerecorded elements. Her goal, she says, is to induce listeners to focus deeply on the music, such that their perceptions of space and time are altered. Given that Frequency Festival is known for highlighting the most exciting artists in forward-thinking music, it couldn’t have chosen two better acts to kick off its 2020 edition. v

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