Ambiq 2

Max Loderbauer / Claudio Puntin / Samuel Rohrer, 2015

Sometimes, the world just seems to work in cycles. Safe in Harbour was easily in my top ten last year, but I'd be lying if I said that wasn't because half the duo of Ricardo Villalobos. The other half, Max Loderbauer, I'd never really followed, per se. Even when I looked him up, it was more, "Oh, he's the dude who was Sun Electric in the 90s, hmm. Never really listened to them." Then very recently I bought a Thomas Friedmann EP which featured a ridiculously killer remix by Samuel Rohrer.

What really brought me to table was the remix EP from Ambiq 2. It featured a mixes by an old favorite (Thomas Fehlmann) and new obsession (Margaret Dygas). Those tracks were so damn good it sent me rushing out to see what else I could subsequently acquire. The original Ambiq 2 LP is actually less electronica than I expected from the remix EP, and more along the lines of lounge-y, electroacoustic improvisation. It's hyper-detailed in an unfussy way, making each pass and variation a new impression. Though subtle, it forces you to meet it half way by refusing to just loop and simply fade into the background.

Safe in Harbour

Vilod, 2015

Ricardo Villalobos legacy is pretty much safe. He's been a highly in-demand DJ, remixer and electronic musician for at least 2 decades. His music, though rarely heard by casual fans of electronica—is highly anticipated and keenly sought after. Sought it must be: his label, Perlon, does not participate in digital culture at all; streaming or purchasing. Their pressings are limited—they sell out quickly. Vilod is his latest evolution of a long-running duo with former Sun Electric member, Max Loderbauer. 

I was only about half way through their album, Safe in Harbour before I knew it would make my year-end list for 2015. It's a confounding listen: busy but sparse, repetitive but random. For the most part, it takes a low key vibe—lounge-jazzy, but tweaked with oddball rhythmic patterns and sharply carved sonic space that leaves your brain wondering where to position everything. It's an artists' astute use of your sonic perception. Your brain overloads, trying to put this mélange together as an actual band while the instruments rapidly shift around your audible field. It's damn hard to listen to this album passively—and that's a high compliment.