On his debut album, German pianist and composer Niklas Paschburg captures the earthy emotional tenor of experimental forebears like Hauschka and Nils Frahm. The young Hamburg native began issuing music in 2014, melding swirls of thoughtful piano with a gentle electronic pulse on tracks like "Dawn" and "Ulenflucht," both of which appeared on his 2016 EP, Tuur Mang Welten. Recorded at a temporarily assembled studio with a view of the Baltic Sea, Oceanic is deeply imbued with a sense of location, with 12 slowly shifting instrumental tracks that ebb and flow with the tide and, at times, seem to mimic the behavior of the waves. Actual field recordings of water and weather bookend and shimmer underneath Paschburg's meandering compositions that continue to explore electro-acoustic textures, like the subtly throbbing synth basslines and treated piano on the haunting "Journey Among Worlds." Lengthier pieces are occasionally interspersed with brief tonal apéritifs, like the introductory "Pier" and the lush "Sonar." Eschewing straightforward melodic lines for wide-lens seascape architecture, Paschburg does a nice job conveying the inherent drama of a large body of water, moving from pastoral sonic wavelets to surging menace, often within the same piece. "Magnetic Perturbation," for example, transforms itself midway through from solo piano introspections to growling distortion followed by a sudden murky silence suggesting an unwelcome dunk beneath the waves. Evocative and quite beguiling, Oceanic is an impressive debut, with many layers to uncover and a strong attention to craft in both composition and production.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger