ambiq, the Berliner instrumental trio of Max Loderbauer, Claudio Puntin, and Samuel Rohrer, emerged onto the scene in 2014 with their self-titled debut album (AM 703CD/LP) of impressive sonic distinctiveness and technical ability. Drinking from a deep pool of influences that includes free improv, early electronic music, and spaced-out dub, the trio does what any great ensemble should set out to do; it becomes more than the sum of its parts, a single organism with its own unique expressive vocabulary and perspective. Proving that their debut was no fluke, the ambiq trio has already reconvened for a second full-length bubbling over with new timbral combinations, and with a sophisticated interpretation of the ancient art of tension and release. From the opener "The Spur," they bring the listener to a world where strange new tonalities seem to breathe freely; the nimble percussive shuffle, set in relief against a cascade of detuning electronic tones, is a fascinating intro, followed by "Introspective Kitchen," which expands the mood of the preceding track with cleverly delay-effected woodwind, remote organ swells, and yet more shivering percussion. The band then embarks on a more motoring, danceable journey titled "The Mother"; Rohrer's drumming, as always, is taut and confident, while Puntin's clarinet evocatively hovers with a kosmische feel that is all too absent from most realms of "post-rock" and electronics-aided improv. The interplay between Puntin and Rohrer eventually develops into the main dialogue of the album, though the sound events surrounding it change continuously enough to keep this a fully memorable and downright cinematic experience. The miniature piece "Naked George" is as full of humorous melody as the other pieces are of investigative curiosity; another short piece, "Mytoprill," is guided by queasy modular synth strains that impart a delirious kind of funhouse ambience. On "Parton's Double Vision," the lush space-violin-quavers familiar to vintage sci-fi fans play the supporting role, and the closing "Consolation" features a lulling bed of electronics that elusively shift in character the more attention one pays to them. Plenty of music exists for the open-minded, but not all of it has the ability to initiate the process of opening minds in the first place. ambiq does have that ability, and have come up with a musical formula that will melt away the defenses of the most hardened techno fanatic or avant-gardist, seeding new ideas not beholden to any one genre or lifestyle.
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