Samuel Rohrer – Range Of Regularity
(Arjuna Music. CD review by Henning Bolte)
This is an electronics solo album by Berlin-resident Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer. The music draws in listeners strongly , into an intense sound world all its own. What you hear will be unfamiliar, attractive, comforting, strange, disconcerting. It might remind the listener of the (re-) sounding world of our blood circulation. It is as mysterious and as fascinating as that.
When you hear a door clattering or the rain hail down it evokes a stationary not a forward-moving sensation. A break, change in intensity, pitch, speed or character is needed to get that sensation. It is the combination of both, as well as the juxtaposition of the regular, mechanical with the seemingly irregular that matters here, and also what makes it feel natural. There are pulsating spaces and there are beats pounding, patting, walking, bouncing from different angles and at different points of time combining and interacting in highly sophisticated ways. It is intermingled with rushing and whooshing noises, arising and disappearing, fading in and out.
You can surrender to the rich interplay – as well as alternating it with close listening – to figure out the way all different layers and patterns interlock. You will learn then that the way it is constructed and interacts is different from the usual form/format in jazz. Pulse, rhythm and texture are the central elements music from which is built up. The clearest example, maybe, is the concluding piece Uncertain Grace where a highly attractive melodic line gradually is only suggested, slightly contoured by layering and blending repetitive rhythmic patterns. It is the contextualization, the creation of space, which makes these patterns sing.
It should be clear that Rohrer is not just imitating beat-driven forms of pop music or using it to embellish and pimp up jazz formats. He has developed his very own procedures and aesthetics to create a new form of captivating music that is consequently built from the deeper grounds of rhythm and drumming opening up truly new dimensions. The aesthetics is also found in the remarkable visual design of the album covers of his own Arjuna Music label.
The album offers six variations of these new dimensions. Microcosmoism has a lot of layering and dub effects whereas Lenina has a thick, dense structure that is being constantly transformed. None of the elements involved here dominates in this piece. all of it colludes as an ensemble. Nimbus has a strong reggae feel in the sense of Peter Tosh’s Bush Doctor. Sunclue is deep, blue ether along lines such as those drawn by Jon Hassell. War On Consciousness is an affair of heavy beats competing, clashing and subsequently speeding up syncopated.
Rohrer’s art has developed from a rich background at different places with different perspectives. He has worked in an ECM context (with pianists Wolfert Brederode and Colin Vallon) and still collaborates with ECM artists like Trygve Seim, Klaus Gesink and Björn Meyer (rhythm section of Anouar Brahem), in a modern jazz-context with Daniel Erdmann, Frank Möbus and French cellist Vincent Courtois and in the exiting electronic unit ambiq with Berlin techno pioneer Max Loderbauer on Buchla and Claudio Puntin on clarinets and electronics.
Range Of Regularity truly traverses new territories.