I rated last year’s Amiira, an album by a trio featuring Samuel Rohrer⏤percussionist, producer behind the Arjunamusic Records label, and member of the Ambiq trio with Max Loderbauer, the pianist who worked with Ricardo Villalobos on Re: ECM⏤as “a sublime example of modern jazz. … far too subtle to shout for attention, but rich in supple, steely creativity”.
Rohrer’s follow-up, Range of Regularity (Arjuna Music) is a solo percussion album of metric precision built on electronically-treated recordings of acoustic instruments, the fluidity of its cleanly delineated cross-cut rhythms closer to minimal techno than jazz but retaining an essential humanity – a quality often filtered out of electronica.
There are obvious correspondences to the musics of both microhouse pioneer Ricardo Villalobos and Jaki Liebezeit. Rohrer’s style is precise, uncluttered and pointillist, a funky metronomy with the supple grace of honed biological physicality – very much like the late Can drummer’s style, but by no means simply derivative.
Opening track “Microcosmism” is a shuffle, a strong dance rhythm with a deep bass pulse, patterned with layers of variously rhythmic and disjointed processed percussion: a steady, strafed beat with stop/go punctuation: cerebral club music.
“Lenina” is deeper, dubbier and more organic, folding chimes and ripples of acoustic pianism into a complex, fractured fluency: traces here of the mutant, late 90s pop of artists like Mouse on Mars and Super_Collider.
“Nimbus” pares back the rhythm quotient to accentuate the underlying dark ambience, before returning to the beat. Rohrer enhances a focused processed kit rhythm with hollow echoic patterns played on plastic tubes, and piano processed into electronic starkness.
“Sunclue” is a short, fourth-world atmospheric, disembodied pulses swathed in misty emanations, cleansing the palette for the two eleven minute long pieces that crown proceedings.
“War on Consciousness” tips a nod to early Kraftwerk before Rohrer sets up a piston-like mechanical rhythm that breaks up-tempo, folding in elements of African music, jazz, soul and funk: Burnt Friedman wet-dreaming of Tony Allen. It’s a complex piece with a breakdown tugging in multiple directions, quieting before adhering to what sounds like firmly-plucked contrabass, then flaring into new life with a hint of blunted and dubbed-out but nonetheless feverish carnivalesque.
“Uncertain Grace” dispels the slightly druggy quality of “War on Consciousness” with layered synth arpeggios and metronomic bass drumming, Rohrer concocting a streamline organic weave of micro-rhythms, closer in spirit now to Ricardo Villalobos’ Latin American rhythmics. After seven minutes he introduces less denatured kit drumming and deep bass anchor points, all flanked by the ongoing, nagging offset repetitions of those electronic rhythm tracks, now running along stereo parallels.
I initially found Range of Regularity mithering, but then I wasn’t really listening properly. It’s a dense and multi-layered album that does demand a proper hearing, but once I got my ear attuned to the organics of Rohrer’s music I was hooked: the required deep listening then becomes physically compulsive and its complexities unfold.
Two remix EPs are slated to follow, with remixes by Villalobos, Vilod (Villalobos and Loderbauer) and Friedman, all of which should prove to be simpatico; but any remix will struggle to surpass the freshness and vigour of Rohrer’s originals.
Samuel Rohrer – drums, percussion, Moog, electronics, piano, tubes, etc..
Buy Range of Regularity direct from Arjuna Music.