It's kind of astounding that Max Loderbauer has never put out a solo record before. The Berlin-based producer and sound engineer has had a long and illustrious career: he was a member of the influential '90s duo Sun Electric, made experimental techno with Tobias Freund as nsi., played in the Moritz Von Oswald Trio and remixed the hallowed ECM catalogue with Ricardo Villalobos. (He also played in a late '80s EBM group called Fisherman's Friend, but that's neither here nor there.) All things considered, Loderbauer is one of the most distinguished electronic artists in Berlin, but until now we've never actually heard him on his own. This made it a bit of a surprise when Transparenz, his debut solo album, quietly appeared on Non Standard Productions this summer.
Transparenz has many of the hallmarks of Loderbauer's collaborative work. Sound design is the main attraction, but there's plenty of room for warmth and emotion—not as much as a track title like "Giant Hug" might suggest, but more than usual for a record this avant-garde (it's a walk in the park compared to Rashad Becker's album). There are undulating rhythms in "Ssseq" and "Shelf," but not the kind you can tap your foot to. "Slowrag" and "Eleg #2" both have powerful chord changes, and "Jea" is a kind of volcanic jumble of arpeggios, but the album always stops short of being melodic. All of the tracks have the same drab romance as the image on the sleeve—a photograph taken by Loderbauer himself.
Taken as a whole, Transparenz is like a gallery of abstract images, each with a different mood and shape. Some evoke a sense of cosmic wonder, echoing the ambient side of krautrock (Tangerine Dream in particular comes to mind). Others are exercises in rhythm and sound design that end up feeling otherworldly—listening to "Shelf," it's obvious why this guy gets on so well with Villalobos. Throughout the record, there's a level of clarity and ultra-refined minimalism that calls to mind ECM, whose credo—"the most beautiful sound next to silence"—feels relevant here. Loderbauer may not have the same star power as some of his peers, but as Transparenz reminds us, he's truly a master of his craft.
Buy Max Loderbauer - Transparenz at
Tracklist: Max Loderbauer - Transparenz A1 Giant Hug
B2 Eleg #2