- Max Loderbauer has notable experience in the area where jazz and experimental sound design intersect, namely Re: ECM, the compilation of ECM remixes he and Ricardo Villalobos released in 2011. Loderbauer's latest project, Ambiq, is more traditional, direct and spontaneous, with the sound of a live trio improvising together in a room. The other people in that room are Samuel Rohrer, a percussionist by trade, and Claudio Puntin, a respected jazz clarinetist who also contributes some mallet work. Both have played in numerous ensembles and have appeared on ECM in the past. Loderbauer, meanwhile, sticks to his Buchla 200e modular synth.
Ambiq's opening moments sound like three musicians stretching their muscles. "Erdkern" shows them playing at cross-purposes, with only fleeting hints of togetherness. "Tund" is the opposite, quickly settling into a staid 4/4 chug that thankfully isn't repeated elsewhere. The rest of the album sees them exploring variations of three basic musical shapes: dense rhythmic exercises, melodic clarinet pieces and sparse, sometimes noisy ambient passages.
Loderbauer and his cohorts play with assurance and no small amount of grace. The results are often pretty, if not revelatory. There are long stretches that feel restless and somewhat aimless, the trio either unwilling or unable to push together towards a collective goal. "Timone" is maybe the nadir in this respect, wandering blithely through eight forgettable minutes. At times the material seems to cry out for a stronger, more dominant voice to drive things forward.
Ambiq is expertly constructed and obviously played by extremely talented musicians, but there's a nagging sense that a few more risks could have been taken here. Over the course of an hour, there is no moment of realization, no point at which the individual threads come together. As undoubtedly professional as it is, Ambiq lacks an edge sharp enough to leave a memorable impression.
03. Touching The Present
06. Toxic Underground
07. No Body Language