Release Date: 09/02/2015
Future jazz has never been articulated so clearly.
‘ambiq’ are electronic pioneer Max Loderbauer, clarinetist Claudio Putin and percussionist Samuel Rohrer. While each has a prolific musical career in their own right, brought together, they pool their individual talents to form something refreshingly original.
In today’s musical landscape where collaborations are frequent and genre splicing is the norm originality like ambiq’s is hard to come by. Perhaps that’s why they find themselves on arjunamusic – a Berlin-based label run by Rohrer with a penchant for timeless, classic, and independent acoustic and electronic music.
Comprised of eleven songs, ambiq’s eponymously titled album is a genuine attempt to find a new musical realm; following in the tradition of modern composers like Steve Reich, the form of each composition is hard to label. Time signatures are unidentifiable, the melodies difficult to predict, and the sonic textures many – despite only three musicians present on the recording. The music demands everything from you, and from ‘Erdkern’, song one, to ‘Tarantula’, song eleven, you won’t be able to dedicate ambiq anything less than your full attention.
One of the core tenants of arjunamusic is the focus on both acoustic and electronic instrumentation and production. It would seem that this is a primary concern in ambiq, where Putin’s clarinet and Rohrer’s percussion are subjected to electronic manipulation.
The classic percussive sounds of chimes and bells are turned queer through Loderbauer’s electronic interference. Delay and reverb are purposefully used sparingly to give clarinet a flavour of the alien, and inorganic, analogue synth melodies and drum patterns are woven seamlessly into the music’s fabric to deliver a record that defies classification.
Perhaps my initial labelling of ambiq as “future jazz” was reductive, then.
However, given that listening to this music made me think of Jonny Greenwood and the London Contemporary Orchestra, as well as Berlin-based Brandt Brauer Frick, it’s clear that ambiq – though creative, ambitious and original – is not truly unique.
This is not a slight on the trio’s work, however, as the album stands as a master class in how to approach the seemingly impossible brief of making something new and unheard of. It’s brave, contemporary, and inventive, and it should be given the upmost respect if you decide to give it your attention.