4g – Cloud
4 Gentlemen of the Guitar – Keith Rowe: guitar, electronics. Oren Ambarchi: guitar, electronics. Christian Fennesz: guitar, computer. Toshimaru Nakamura: no-input mixing board.
Erstwhile Records press release, 2005: “Keith Rowe, Oren Ambarchi, Christian Fennesz and Toshimaru Nakamura are four of the most prominent and influential musicians in experimental music today, each with extensive discographies and distinctive styles. In mid-2004, they formed the Four Gentlemen of the Guitar (4g), and played a series of shows in Europe and Canada, three of which are contained on cloud. The underlying concept of 4g is to unite four artists who each began their musical explorations as guitarists, keeping that mindset as a crucial underpinning of their work as they've each explored increasingly abstract territory, both with and without guitars.
Rowe’s history has been well documented at this point. Having mostly performed within AMM until the late 90's, he's since been involved in a wide range of projects, including a slew of the most prominent Erstwhile releases. He’s the cornerstone musician for the label, and the 4g grouping was his idea.
Ambarchi is making his Erstwhile debut (except for the 7 guitar disc in the AMPLIFY 2002 box set). Born in Sydney in 1969, he has been performing live since 1986. His recent work as a solo artist on Touch is very well known and respected, and he's been working with Rowe in various small groupings since 2000. Ambarchi is also co-organiser of the What Is Music? Festival, Australia's premier annual showcase of local and international experimental music.
Fennesz, known to a wider audience for his studio-constructed records like “Endless Summer” and “Venice”, is also a superb collaborative improviser, as documented on projects like Fenn O’Berg (with Jim O'Rourke and Pita), “Wrapped Islands” (with Polwechsel), “Live at the LU” (with Rowe), and “ErstLive 004” (with Sachiko M, Otomo Yoshihide and Peter Rehberg).
Since 1998, Nakamura has been exploring the possibilities of his “no-input mixing board” in contexts ranging from solo to collaborations with Rowe, Günter Müller, Sachiko M, Andrea Neumann, John Butcher and Sean Meehan. Nakamura was a prominent presence throughout the AMPLIFY 2002 box set, appearing on five of the seven CDs, an integral part of the “Good Morning Good Night” and “ErstLive 005” releases, and will be releasing the much-anticipated follow up to the highly acclaimed “Weather Sky” CD with Rowe in early 2006.
There have been two larger group releases featuring three of these four musicians, Afternoon Tea (Ritornell) has Rowe, Ambarchi and Fennesz, and the 7 guitar disc on the AMPLIFY 2002 box has Rowe, Ambarchi and Nakamura, but the 4g project is the first time all four have performed together. “Cloud” contains three performances (from Vand’ouevre, Paris and Victoriaville) from their seven city tour in May/June 2004, totalling over two hours of music. The widely differing aesthetics of the four musicians meld fluidly, forming hovering, delicate masses of sound. The packaging meshes Rowe’s striking cover painting with Friederike Paetzold’s eyecatching design.”