M Osternmeier stands out in the crowded neo-classical ambient field by a willingness to let his piano stand naked, shorn – for the most part – of the hauntological trappings, the sludged on digital hiss and crackle, that pretty much define the genre. Chance Reconstructions is his third release this year, his first full length, but its modest running time, modest pacing, and modest means make for an album that’s effortlessly enjoyable, despite the persistent air of mournful introspection.
On all but a few pieces the piano takes centre stage, carving out fragile, childlike melodies, meloncholy lullabies drawn in clear and resonant tones, backed by synths the hue of either acrid smoke or silky strings. Other elements hover in the background, faint creaks, tics and whirrs, functioning as subtle decoration. Ostermeier has a fine ear for compositional balance, a crucial feature in music of this sort, resistant to overcrowding, or inserting ill-fitting or unwelcome sounds. Slight detours find him exploring the softer realms of post-rock, as in ‘Beacon Adrift’, the title alone referencing Tortoise, as does the processed guitar twang, but here too the move is entirely well-chosen.