When I hear this album I smell dust. It might not make sense to you, or to me for that matter, but it is what it is. Some albums, particularly in the ambient vein, take me to strange places that can be either outside or inside. Oren Ambarchi takes me to the attic that I haven't been up to in years. The attic where even as a grown man looking at old boxes of photographs or other such things, there's a feeling of unease brought on me by such a place and all of a sudden I am eight years old all over again. In the Pendulum's Embrace caught me off guard for a number of reasons. I won't lie to you, when I first heard this album, my initial reaction was, "What the fuck is this doing on Southern Lord??" Such a reaction, of course is bred in pure, impulsive ignorance.
So I listened to the album again and understood a bit more about how it could be on such a label as Southern Lord. I could tell that I was beginning to like it, but I still wasn't sure why I liked it. Then, a little bit into the third listen it came to me, "Oh yeah, the attic," and it all became more clear. There's a plethora of instruments at work here: strings, guitars, bells, and glass harmonica. All doing well to serve Ambarchi's end.
I hadn't heard of Ambarchi beyond his previous work with Sunn 0))) so I was interested to see what he comes up with on his own. What he creates is soundscapes, but not in the new age sense of the word. What In the Pendulum's Embrace consists of is three songs lasting a total of forty minutes that, assuming you're in the right frame of mind (that is to say open) will find your "place" that it takes you to (whether you call it "trance" or whatever) and when you're finished you'll feel unnerved yet somehow refreshed, most likely initially unaware of where the last forty minutes went.
Some of you may read this going "Jesus, who the hell wants that?" But Ambarchi reminds us that music can first and foremost be an experience, the ultimate form of escapism. Sure, where we escape to is in the ear of the beholder but that's just all part of the fun.