OREN AMBARCHI Discaholic interview aug – 13
Are you an official discaholic? Is there such a thing?
Do you need help with it? Or are you happy as is?
- Most people close to me know that I have serious discaholic issues. I have had it all of my life and it seems to get more chronic as I mature. I’m revelling in it of course.
When did you start collecting?
- My mum started buying me 7”s when I was a one-year old for my little portable record player. I don’t know if that counts as the official commencement of my record collecting but I became addicted soon after, finding lps by any means necessary.
Was vinyl the first thing you collected?
- Absolutely. I wasn’t interested in toy cars and that kind of shit. McCartney 7”s were alot more satisfying.
Was there kickin vinyl shops in Australia when you grew up , or did u have to do the import by yourself of the yummie vinylbits from overseas ?
- When I was around 12 or 13 I used to go into the city after school and buy used jazz records with my lunch money. The used vinyl stores in Sydney in those days kicked ass and they were cheap. I would come home with Impulse! lps that were usually $5 a pop.
I remember finding a Cecil Taylor 3lp box set on Shandar for $7.50, those were the days!
When I got a bit older and interested in more obscure releases I would obsessively mailorder lps from outlets like RRR, Forced Exposure, Japan Overseas, Artware etc etc.
It was super exciting to order weirdo releases just from a short description on a printed catalogue. You never knew what the hell was going to arrive a few weeks later. Exciting times!
How do you buy your records mostly nowadays ? on tour? eBay? Local shops?
- All of the above but it’s definitely fun to buy records on tour. Apart from eating local food, hitting the record stores on tour is where it’s at! Unfortunately apart from a few exceptions, the stores aren’t what they used to be.
How many meters of vinyl do you have in your collection?
- You’ve inspired me to buy a tape measure, hold on a sec.
From what I can see, approximately 34 meters (as of August 22, 2013)
How many meters would you like to have?
- To quote Andrea True, ”More More More”.
What is Music?
- To quote Seal, ”My power, my pleasure, my pain!”
Have your music ever set a fire alarm off?
- Stephen O’Malley was DJing at the CMJ festival in New York in 2004. Apparently he was playing my piece “Corkscrew” and the low frequencies set off the fire alarms and sprinklers in the venue; the audience was evacuated and the New York fire department rushed over. He emailed the next day saying, ‘We need to work together.’
What vinyl would trigger an earthquake?
- Most definitely Bill Bruford’s ”Hells Bells” or X-Dreams by Annette Peacock.
Or maybe the first Walter Franco record (by the way, did you find that one for me in Brazil?). ( red: still lookin.. still searchin….)
Is trading records the most fun you can have with your clothes on?
Is trading records the ultimate intimacy?
- I don’t trade much as unlike you, I don’t buy 3-4 copies of every rare record known to man. But I have fucked up alot lately in Japan, buying a record I already own in a hyped & confused discaholic frenzy (very embarrassing). My close friends and loved ones benefit from this folly as it is a pleasure to shower these people with choice vinyl treasures they don’t have. Most of them don’t appreciate it though, hahah!
Did you celebrate your 33 1/3 rd birthday ? The 45th ?
- I forgot to celebrate the 33 1/3rd but for the 45th I am planning a big karaoke night where I will belt out my favourite hits from the 70s and 80s and make all attendees suffer immensely.
- LP. As much as I love the sharp focus of a 7”, I prefer it when an artist stretches out. I like to sink my teeth into something you know?
What is the ultimate weight?
- 220 gram is pretty damn sexy but generally I’m not fussed, it’s all about the music.
Actually shipping this shit to Australia is crazy expensive so fuck 220 gram reissues.
Fav vinyl color?
- Black is the color.
Can discaholism be cured ?
- Don’t think so. I’m a lost cause & that’s fine with me.
Can you let us know how a vinyl per day can keep the doctor away?
- As you know from experience, 1 per day at a minimum. It will make your life more pleasureable and meaningful.
Alphabetical or by genre?
- Both although that can get a little complicated (but it’s too late now..).
What record is closest to sex?
- Robert Ashley’s ”Automatic Writing”
Which one is no sex at all?
- Stockhausen’s ”Donnerstag aus licht” box or something by Nick Cave
What record has changed your life most dramatically?
For the best ?
- Hearing Hendrix’s ”1983” on Electric Ladyland when I was super young opened up so many doors, it had a pop structure that was laced with studio experimentation, free/open sounds, extended duration, ”psychedelia” etc etc – everything was there, kinda like The White Album in how varied it was for a huge major label release. Other early revelations were Coltrane’s Impulse! recordings, Yoko Ono’s ”Fly” and Miles Davis’ 70s releases. I was pretty young when I nabbed these releases so being exposed to killer pop with studio experimentation like the Beatles and important free jazz records really shaped everything for me.
For the worst?
- As above – those records got me into all kinds of genres which is a serious problem cause I wanted to hear everything! I’m obsessive about so many styles, killer pop, weirdo shit, you name it. It’s an expensive habit and lps weigh alot! Postage to Australia ain’t cheap either..
Describe a perfect shopping/ hunting day!
- You are in a new city with a slight hangover &/or jetlag and you don’t have any obligations or time restrictions that day (a rarity).
You hit a killer restaurant for a brunch with some good friends and have a drink or two so you’re feeling loose as a goose, then you hit the stores – preferably stores all of you have never been to before. Stores that suprise the shit outta you cause they have stuff you can’t freakin believe. And the people running the store are nice/cool, but they have no idea what the hell they have in the store and therefore the lps aren’t overpriced. The people running the place have also never heard of ebay or the internet. They don’t talk to eachother loudly or bother you.
And the store is open late.
You go fucking crazy and buy shit you can’t believe. And as the prices are cheap you take risks and grip things you’ve never heard of, all of which are gold. You also have some knowledgeable cohorts that already have all the lps you are looking for, therefore there’s no competition or fighting – they accompany you purely for encouragement and advice/recommendations. They even buy a few lps FOR YOU that they think YOU NEED. Additionally your cohorts buy any lp you recommend to them without questioning you.
After that you all have a big celebratory meal and do it again the next day.
That’s a little slice of heaven my friend.
What records do I wanna steal from your collection?
- Don’t know, it depends on your taste, but oh, you only listen to jazz right?
Not sure if you’re into signed lps but I have a few I’m proud of including a signed ESP ”Call me Burroughs” lp that I paid $2 for. Years ago I cheekily had Brian Wilson sign a ’Smile’ 3LP bootleg along with The Beach Boys ”Love You”, one of my all time faves. My copies of Hanatarash 1 & 2 both have elaborate signed artwork by Eye. Keiji Haino has signed/illustrated a few of his early lps for me. Yeah, I’m a nerd..
Mono or stereo needle?
- Stereo. And man, I’m not an audiophile, my system is good but I don’t go crazy with the gear, I prefer to keep discovering more lps I haven’t heard yet, not crazy expensive gear.
What jukebox would you like to have? Does it need to have random function, or do you prefer to control the flow of 7” s?
- I’d be into having multiple jukeboxes with the option of a random function if I was mixing drinks/entertaining guests, all with different themes for the particular mood I’m in. For example, you could have a 70s ”one-hit-wonder” jukebox for a fun vibe, or a Merzbow 7” jukebox for a fun a vibe etc etc. The skies the limit.
Have you ever ”borrowed” a vinyl at a party/ dinner … and just kept it for ”a while”?
- Mats, you know I wouldn’t do something like that
What vinyl would you like to give away to people, in order to change matters to the better? Did you ever buy for instance 10 copies of a vinyl, just to give away because it is so fuckin good ?
- There’s so many amazing records that I would love to give away, only problem is they are usually crazy expensive. Fuck, I wish I could force people to listen to all kinds of records I love and make them dig it! I get so excited about certain records it can be pretty overwhelming for alot of people..
I love it when people turn me onto records too.
Actually alot of people avoid going into record stores with me cause I literally force people to buy certain records. And if they don’t listen to me when I recommend something, they are punished – next time around if they are in a store with me and I spot something essential I will recommend it to another friend in the store instead of them.
Over the years I’ve bought copies of the Massimo Toniutti lp from ’91 and given them away to friends. It’s super underrated and ahead of its time and not ’hip’ so it’s slipped under the radar which means it usually pretty cheap.
Speaking of which I was very touched when you sent me a beautiful copy of Milford Graves & Don Pullen’s ”Nommo” lp just because I ”needed it”, how sweet of you Mats!
What is the most valuable (economically or emotionally…) record you have in your collection?
- Emotion is more important than economics when it comes to these matters but there is no emotionally valuable record in particular that I could narrow it down to.
It would probably be the ones that were super revelatory when I discovered them, the ones that I played the shit out of at the time of purchase and still do 20 years later.
Some of my choices would not make any sense to anyone else as it’s so personal (Steve Khan’s ”Casa Loco”, Pat Metheny’s ”Offramp” or side 1 of ”As falls Wichita” anyone?).
Speaking of emotion, did you ever hear the song ”Emotion” sung by Samantha Sang?
She was an Australian singer from the 70s who sung this track written/produced by Barry and Robin Gibb and it was a huge hit. Holy shit it’s a killer track.
The clip for it is kinda creepy too.
I just picked up her LP the other day, it has its moments but holy shit, that track is fucking incredible.
- I have plenty of killer el cheapo records.
Man, I was in Winnipeg last week and bought loads of super cheap records, all were $1 at the most (hey, I had to buy something when I was there). But alot of them were super cool! I’m fine with having a Peaches & Herb lp on the same shelf as a Henning Christiansen gallery edition lp.
Limited or unlimited?
- We all fetishize the limited release (I have plenty of prized limited releases), but some of my favourite music are on lps are easily available classics.
Protecting plastic covers or not?
- I’m not fussed.
What is the first section you hit, while arriving to a vinyl shop, where you have never been before?
- I check the display wall & hit the Avant/experimental
- New arrivals
- Free jazz/progressive/or rock/pop
The section where you would never look in?
- The Christmas section.
What is your favorite record shop in the world?
- Disc Union, Shinjuku
- Because I am continuously overwhelmed with the breadth and quality of what they stock. You will ALWAYS find something there that blows your mind and the prices are not insane.
Favorite city for vinyl hunting?
- Tokyo of course. One of the only cities in the world that has record stores that are completely unaffected by ebay/discogs. The amount of killer stores there is mind boggling.
Give us a list of your 5 favorite:
Best smelling vinyls:
- The Harry Bertoia lps on Sonambient
Most erotic album covers:
- Annette Peacock’s ”Been in the streets too long” is pretty goddam hot.
Coolest label logo:
- Cramps. Actually make that ECM hahah!
Free jazz records:
- Too many to list but Milford Graves’ Babi Music is up there
- Again too many but some faves are Noisembryo, Rainbow Electronics & most of the mid-90s stuff, ”Steel cum” 7”, + early releases like Ecobondage
Derek Bailey records:
- New Sights, Old Sounds
Duos with Bennink
Mirakle (!!!) etc etc
What is your best guitar solo , recorded on vinyl?
- They are all incredible
- None, trust me, they are all incredible
Is this interview too long?
- It’s like the Well Tuned Piano, it just goes on and on and on..
Do you store multiple copies of your own recorded legacy? In case some fellow discaholics arrives at your doorstep in 20 years from now and need that 2 lp set with Fire! and yourself in the limited white vinyl edition?
- Rune Grammofon only gave me one copy of the white vinyl edition!
Do you often recommend shitty Scorpion Lps to your fellow musician friends?
- Sorry about that. Did you get into trouble at home?
Oh, did you listen to the Genesis lp? Probably not… ( red: of course i did . it is ROCKIN!)
What single vinyl release got you going to start play the guitar?
- Probably the Who, Led Zep and Hendrix 7” releases I had when I was a baby
What vinyl makes you wanna stop playing the guitar?
- Anything by the Grateful Dead
Can you recognize a fellow discaholic in an ordinary group of people? Are there any specifics that give the discaholic away?
- It can be difficult but there are signs if you look out for them.
For example I was recently in a tour van with a Swedish band that I’d just started working with and didn’t know very well personally. At one point the sax player violently demanded that the driver stop the van so he could go to an outdoor record vendor he’d just spotted whilst the driver was speeding down a freeway. Something like that usually is a good indication.
What jacket surface makes your breathing more irregular?
Matt? Glossy? Laminated? Plain? Silk screened?
- All of the above.
Which record can save the world?
- ELO’s ”A New World Record”. Man, that record is amazing..
Which record will not save the world?
- Neil Hamburger’s ”Great Phone Calls” which is very unfortunate as it should.