Switched On – Samuel Rohrer: Codes Of Nature (Arjuna Music)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Samuel Rohrer thrives on collaboration within music. His credits are a veritable roll call of electronic and percussive music, listing Ambiq, Ricardo Villalobos, Max Loderbauer, Tobias Freund and Oren Ambarchi among his co-workers. On Codes Of Nature, however, the multi-skilled instrumentalist closes ranks and delivers an album as a one-man band.

His Bandcamp page credits Rohrer for contributions on drums, modular synths, electronics, keyboard, cymbals and percussion – a tightly knit unit that the prolific composer has wound into an album of six extended tracks.

What’s the music like?

Rohrer’s music is deceptive, a bubbling cooking pot of invention. On the surface the casual listener might think there is little going on, but delve deeper into his workings and all the percussive nuances and compressed melodic loops are revealed.

Body Of Lies is carefully moulded into a living, breathing organism, with plenty of small musical figures competing for space but complementing each other. Rohrer carefully adds light and shade to the track, with brushed percussion and trimmings of a slightly dubby nature.

Scapegoat Principle travels further afield, using distant vocal samples and stretched out, syncopated figures to create tension. The open-air approach gives the feeling of approaching a distant tribe, especially when Rohrer introduces a busy, shimmering figure.

On Fourth Density the textures open out, presenting a spacious sound before long melodic lines and intricate synth / percussion interplay take over. Clocking in at nearly eleven minutes, The Banality Of Evil is the longest track on the album, and it shows once again Rohrer’s easy grasp of bigger structures. The layer of percussion underneath the surface keeps things ticking over nicely, while drone-like figures drift in and out of focus above. Gradually the treble gets busier and the sounds become displaced, leaving a slightly woozy but oddly compelling outlook.

Talking To Nature Spirits is very easy on the ear, nearly ten minutes of aural balm with its oscillating loops and outdoor sounds. The pitch is firmly rooted but Rohrer plays clever tricks with cross rhythms, creating bursts of positive energy above the static undercarriage. Final track Resurrection responds to this with a more improvised outlook, scattered sounds and consonant harmonies creating an ambient collage.

Does it all work?

Yes, provided the right listening conditions are met. Listening to Codes Of Nature when on the move is unhelpful, for unless you have the right headphones a lot of its subtleties are lost to the surrounding noise. Better to be listening in a confined space, when all the workings can be revealed.

Is it recommended?

Yes – an atmospheric album that reveals more of its finely wrought treasures with each listen. A thoroughly intriguing and involving addition to Samuel Rohrer’s already impressive body of work.



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