Once, I fell asleep at a Necks show. It was good. I was up ‘til the five AM prior, the room was stuffy as tupperware and they were improvising some of the loveliest music I’d ever heard. They weren’t so much playing their instruments as they were sprinkling on them; little dashes of the piano, an absent-minded double bass pluck and only the very hint of a brush onto the drum. I woke up and everyone told me off for what I’d missed but it was obviously the best forty minutes of live music and sleep I’d ever gotten.
I sort of remember what I heard but I also absolutely don’t. My friend consoled me about what I’d missed: “if it makes you feel any better, that set will never exist again”.
I remember reading once that Faust don’t remember making Outside the Dream Syndicate with Tony Conrad. They just don’t remember. They played drums as loudly as possible and kept the exact same beat for two profuse hours -- while Conrad played horrible violin drones in their ears -- and they forgot. The party line: they don’t remember because they were high. The actual reason: improvisation is a jerk and it exists for you to forget how it does. It is to be experienced for a good fcking moment but for zero accurate memories. I think Dream Syndicate is pretty much my ultimate improv record: a marching chaos that sublimates its steady, knowing musicianship with just stuff, I can’t remember, nothing in particular.
I try to tell people why I like this Ambarchi and co. record and I come up with things like “it’s v. chill”, which is true -- the random and occasioned synth figure is a gorgeous kind of Animal Crossing overture, blasting lovingly out of nowhere atop the general debris of drone happening below. Yep -- like a Nintendo game’s startup screen coming in over another console’s hushed ambient music. Really, I can’t tell you why I like it because afterwards I barely remember its details. I like that it’s absent-minded; I like that volume increases for no reason at unexpected moments and that the structure is as you like it. I like that it’s both imposing and imposed on -- I like that I can type things and the typing feels like another bit of the record’s muzak plus morse code vibe.
I like that Ambarchi has improvised in so many different groups for so many different albums lately and yet his friends still surprise him. I feel like if you asked him about this album he’d probably be like “oh, yeah, that”, because you just reminded him it existed. Every time I come back to this website I check my classic ratings and I'm like "oh, yeah, that", forgetting an album I've told about fifty different people that I hold as an integral part of my DNA, an album that belongs to me, an album I call my favourite so no one else gets to have it as their favourite. I'm so careless with my favourite things -- this is one of them now, I feel like it won't mind, bye.