Max Loderbauer, Claudio Puntin, and Samuel Rohrer, Ambiq


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Deftly working the space between techno, ambient, and jazz, Max Loderbauer has amassed a modest discography of understated delights over the past two decades. His work with the Moritz Von Oswald Trio combined a hypnotic sense of groove with warm live musicianship; the various remix projects alongside Ricardo Villalobos saw him bring a wayward bearing to epic tracks, not least the 15-minute “Meets Tshetsha Boys” for Honest Jon’s Shangaan Electro series; while last year’s debut solo release, Transparenz was full of beautifully shimmering abstraction. Here he collaborates with Swiss clarinet virtuoso Claudio Puntin and drummer Samuel Rohrer for an LP of low-lit grooves and ominous ambience that combines live instrumentation and warm desk work to great effect.

Max Loderbauer, Claudio Puntin, and Samuel Rohrer, “Erdkern”

“Erdkern” hinges on a combination of viscous clarinet interjections laden with echo that is offset by aquatic-sounding electronic tapestry, all the while underpinned by Rohrer’s powerful and doomy drum sound. “Tund” works a 4/4 pulse, sinister chime effects, and shimmering percussion evoking howling wind over one of a vast Kansas cornfield, at once frightening and majestic. Woozy, intoxicated beat freakery is brought to bear on “Touching the Present” — a wizened, ex-Foreign Legion trooper calling for one more grimy tumbler of cheap vin rouge before being booted out of the bar, blinking into the sun toward Marseille harbor. You can imagine The Gaslamp Killer, Flying Lotus, or any number of their L.A brethren taking solace here. “Tragus” is a moody five minutes, lonely clarinet and the occasional reverberating bass drum broken only by the odd ride splash to break the tension.

Max Loderbauer, Claudio Puntin, and Samuel Rohrer, “Toxic Underground”

“Toxic Underground” acts as something of a center point to the record. 12 minutes of lucid dream imagery that unfolds very slowly — loose hits, cavernous clarinet notes, shuffling hats and creepy pads. By comparison, “Loka” is a direct, downtempo groove for some smoky Hamburg basement, while “Talion” brings dark grind-house atmospherics underpinned by virtuoso rimshots. This new trio has convened to make a dramatic and loosely thrilling LP that — while in no sense immediate — will delight those who enjoy the more esoteric elements of improvisatory electronica. Fans of the Moritz Von Oswald trio should certainly check this. A headphones record full of detailed, slow burning rhythmic interplay and nuanced desk work.

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