Samuel Rohrer NOREIA

Noreia Simplicity is hard to do

With NOREIA the percussionist Samuel Rohrer is releasing his debut album under his own label arjunamusic. The Swiss musician, who has been living in Berlin since 2003, has become wellknown through his work with a wide range of artists, such as Wolfert Brederode, Colin Vallon, Malcolm Braff, Daniel Erdmann, Charles Gayle, Frank Möbus, Vincent Courtois, Markus Stockhausen and the singer Susanne Abbuehl. His creative collaborations have already been documented in numerous recordings under the prestigious label ECM amongst others.

Samuel Rohrer has in the meantime travelled far and become much sought-after as a musician. With his refined and well-rounded playing he never comes across as loud or dogmatic. Being in a band is what counts, and how the alert and sensitive presence of others helps him to achieve his flow. Ostentation, beating out patterns or insisting on well-rehearsed routines are all things that are foreign to him. He moves carefully in a rock-style groove, which he is constantly re-shaping and driving forward. In addition to his role as sideman, Samuel Rohrer has been writing his own music for some time. He works on tuneful songs without words in his head, turning them round and round until he senses they have acquired a life of their own – the one he always had in mind. His compositions shimmer between euphoric exuberance and melancholic contemplation. Anyone asking if this is rock, jazz or maybe new folk is probably missing the point.

In 2005 he released the beguiling album „nolia“ with clarinettist Claudio Puntin (Fred Frith, DaveLiebman, Hermeto Pascoal, World Clarinet Quartet) and double bassist Peter Herbert (Art Blakey’s, the Jazz Messengers, Vienna Art Orchestra, Steve Lacy, Paul Simon). Now Rohrer is taking the next natural step in the development of his music with his own label arjunamusic. To this end he invited the Icelandic composer and bassist living in New York, Skúli Sverrisson (Alas No Axis, Laurie Anderson, Jon Hassell, Arto Lindsey, David Sylvian) to the French studio La Buissonne as the fourth man in his quartet, creating a line-up which has produced a new and fascinating spectrum of sounds.

With his six-stringed baritone-bass Skúli Sverrisson provides a solid foundation, while at the same time opening doors to new possibilities. Closely enmeshed with Peter Herbert’s double bass, the pieces are earthed and the music is firmly grounded, while the style is relaxed. Claudio Puntin’s wonderful clarinet soars above, his silky, soulful melodic lines adapting themselves organically to the whole. This subtly balanced web of sound plays around Rohrer, and seems almost to ensnare him as he spins out the detail. The music is richly evocative, the harmonies conjuring up beautiful images in the mind of the listener. There is no splashing about in the shallows here. The sound is vigorous and energetic, dreamily atmospheric, and sumptuously bewitching. The mood of relaxed concentration during the recording is almost palpable. None of the players steps up as a soloist. What matters is the organic group sound, which is easy, almost casual, and it continually amazes and delights the listener with its new twists and turns. This music has an uncomplicated presence – a simplicity, which is hard to do.

NOREIA is the musical result of a new encounter between rock and jazz, and between composition and improvisation. Samuel Rohrer’s band deserves the best, because their music delivers pleasure without being undemanding, because it has something to say without overloading the listener, and because it reaches a place, without calculation, which is a new starting point.
This line-up, whose new album is named after the much worshipped Roman goddess, bringer of fortune, fertility and healing, promises to be one of the highlights of the live season wherever they are heard.
Ulrich Steinmetzger Translated by Jo Spearing