I’ve spent the better part of six weeks trying to wrap my brain around Oren Ambarchi’s latest, a collaboration with famed Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista. But Simian Angel is slippery — it sounds different every time you spin it. New details emerge, textures shift, grooves come undone. What feels soothing and meditative on one listen seems to skirt the edges of disquieting dissonance on the next.
This is a good thing. In a musical landscape where originality is a rare commodity, Ambarchi and Baptista have come up with something absolutely fresh, something truly unusual. Across the album’s two long tracks, there are traces of the familiar, to be sure: Baptista’s deep roots in exploratory jazz and Brazilian music are evident (his vast CV includes work with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Airto Moreira). You might hear a little bit of Jon Hassell’s beautifully wobbly “Fourth World” dreamscapes creeping in. But these reference points are beside the point. Simian Angel is an entire universe all its own — weird, wonderful and ever-changing. words/t wilcox
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