Jeremy Young is no stranger to collaboration. The artist first caught our attention as an integral part of the interdisciplinary collective Sontag Shogun, but in recent years the artists has branched out into solo work, producing such a wide variety of releases that one might be hard-pressed to identify his signature sound. He plays to his strengths on Amaro, creating a melange of tape, radio, oscillator, various objects and “weird thoughts;” but he doesn’t compose alone. A wonderful variety of friends, including some names familiar to our site and some new, drops by to create a gorgeously textured release. While recognizably the work of Young, Amaro is also a celebration of sonic conversation, extended to the visual realm through entrancing videos.
Tomonari Nishikawa contributes projector and 16mm film to the opening “Traffic,” making the connection that many claim but few carry out: Young’s music is literally filmic. Stutter and static, spool and clack conjure the tabula rasa of an opening image. What will Young scrawl upon this board? The first “Ballroom Loop” enters the frame, forever associated with The Shining and The Caretaker, but here with a gentle patina, more nostalgia than melancholy. One can imagine cherry blossoms falling in a gentle breeze. Harpist/vocalist Dolphin Midwives is next to appear, her own Body of Water set for release this July. Slowly developing synth chords lift the piece to a heavenly level across its seven-minute span. After Markus Floats’ visit on “Your Air Smells Like Cinnamon,” one would be forgiven for thinking that this is an ambient album. But as the press release notes, the album is “neither ambient nor noise,” but something in-between.
The voice of Vito Ricci causes a startling wake-up on “The Duchamp Bicycle Wheel Resonator,” as nothing prior to this piece has provided any indication of narration. Yet it’s also the album’s most intriguing track, as it blends found sound with the allure of percussion. After one has gotten used to the album, one can better appreciate the sequencing, as the late taps of “Bicycle” connect to the early percussion of “Cinnamon.” While this might indicate that these tracks should be reversed, it wouldn’t have worked; the easing into a higher tempo is a better marker.
After this track, we’re ready for anything on Side B, and those who expect further narration will not be disappointed; Deanna Radford’s poetic “word events” provide surprising juxtapositions on “Mythy.” But first, there will be violin and amplified objects, courtesy of Pauline Kim Harris and Johannes Bergmark, the loops of “Electricity Over Mirabel” matching nicely with the film reels of “Traffic” and the fragmented radio of “Carta Vetrata” a mirror for the rustling of random objects.
The mysterious “Tiny Pine Cones” (featuring Ida Toninato on voice and cones) wanders into hauntology, providing a tonal link to the bonus tracks of the digital EP The Amaretto Ballroom Tapes. While the closing track of the LP proper links back around to the opener, the extended quartet of ballroom tracks offers a quiet recession, akin to that of a servant walking backward when leaving the presence of royalty. The collaborators return to their homes; the composer lingers to contemplate and incorporate the gifts they have left behind. (Richard Allen)