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Max Loderbauer
Greyland Richard Fontenoy , November 15th, 2017 16:35

On his second solo album (after 2013's Tranzparenz), Berlin producer, remixer and experimental techno don Max Loderbauer takes an organic, exploratory approach.

Greyland is only Max Loderbauer's second solo release - he’s better known for his collaborative works with Ricardo Villalobos and Mauritz von Ostwald, and as a member of Sun Electric. Rather than taking the pumping techno route, though, this disc from Marionette follows other paths, from shimmery percussion-led rhythms to elegantly wheezy pulsations and bassier points between.

Loderbauer's meticulous attention to detail comes to the fore, very much favouring an approach that feels fundamentally organic rather than letting the floor-filling weight of the kick or the flickering snares and hats lead the listener bodily. Which is not to say that this music lacks weight - far from it. It’s more that Loderbauer allows the ears to take precedence, rewarding close listening with compositions that flick a time-bending switch in the brain.

This he does not only with cross-cut loops and rolling oscillations but with some nicely heartfelt synth pads that parade precisely across the stereo field in a rapturous roll of half-waking emotive states, filled with restrained electronic soulfulness that avoids mawkishness and over-obvious prettification. The filter sweeps and rising intonations on 'Heliopolis' are a sort of electronic chamber music, Loderbauer arranging his instrumentation with all the nuance of a string quartet, while on 'Golden Crescent' the gently coruscating shine and low-end thrum meanders while avoiding the obvious frames and restrictions of the ambient tag.

He's also terrific at making the percussion on a track like 'Artus' jump through all the hoops and more, leaving the question of whether he is using a real instrument, sample loops or a drum machine wholly irrelevant. The morphing from brightly tinted strikes through an evolutionary dissolution into almost pure groove is achieved with almost shockingly subtle panache, snapping reality back into focus on a wave of simple admiration for just how neatly it’s been done. Even on the most conventionally paced number, 'Who's That Born', one that in other circumstances might have allowed for aimless drifting or quantised over-precision, Loderbauer lets the melody be interrupted and augmented by emergent glitches, lifting the mood from head-nodding stasis to the quirkier reaches of the unexpected.