Hardly a week seems to go by at the moment without the announcement of a new album from or involving German composer, Touch guitarist and electronica wiz Markus Reuter. In the last few months we’ve had the essential (and free – see link at the end of this piece) career spanning compilation Fool Of Music, several Centrozoon albums, as well as a solo album and another in collaboration with pianist Robert Rich. Oh, and he formed a quarter of the band that made the utterly marvellous jazz-fusion improv album The Stone House, and then there’s FACE, the epic length eclectic progressive rock collaboration with Pat Mastelotto, not to mention Markus’ recent work with Stick Men. Apologies if I missed anything! …and now, what’s this? A solo album where our seemingly hectically busy cerebral guitarist is backed by his long-time musical companion Tobias Reber and Swiss minimalists SONAR, entitled Falling For Ascension, that’s what.
The compositions here are some of Markus Reuter’s earliest, dating from a period between 1985 and 1987, when he was only in his mid-teens, something I find quite astonishing. As Markus puts it, “For me the striking thing about this album is that the themes and melodies and rhythms that you’re hearing were written when I was 14 years old…I had these little motifs set aside for such a long time and I never knew what to do with them. The opportunity to work with SONAR arose in 2014, these pieces seemed a perfect fit”, as the PR blurb has it, and it’s not wrong.
In the long tradition of SONAR, the pieces presented on Falling For Ascension follow a precise pattern and become hypnotic through repetition, with various very subtle embellishments drawing the listener deeper and deeper in, so that by the time of the 22-minute Unconditional, all sense of the passage of time is largely forgotten. Imagine an endless DNA spiral disappearing yonder, and you are following one strand as is winds on, entwining and untangling with other strands along the way, only to meet them again later on, then to separate again. If music could be a fractal then this is it.
As the unfolding spiral slowly reveals its secrets, you will notice the spaces between the mitochondria that supplies the energy as much as the strand itself. Both SONAR and Reuter are past masters of less-is-more, and the deliberate use of the space between notes to create the desired state of suspended animation. It sounds simple, but it is anything but. The levels of concentration required to create this hypnotically metronomic journey, where everything that creates the rhythm is played rather than sampled, are simply astounding.
The production values on this album attain a resonance and a clarity that in this age of godawful lo-fi streaming is an absolute pleasure. Given that I am listening to a 320kpbs download through the 5.1 system, the lossless version must be something else. The sonorous bass is pure bliss!
I will leave you with a health warning: If your phone rings while immersed in this you may experience an arrhythmia attack!
01. Condition I (7:47)
02. Condition II (4:38)
03. Condition III (8:57)
04. Condition IV (5:36)
05. Condition V (8:25)
06. Condition VI (10:23)
07. Unconditional (22:29)
Total Time – 68:18
Stephan Thelen – Guitar
Bernhard Wagner – Guitar
Christian Kuntner – Bass guitar
Manuel Pasquinelli – Drums
Tobias Reber – Live Electronics
Markus Reuter – Touch Guitars® U8, Soundscapes
Record Label: Ronin Rhythm Records
Country of Origin: Germany
Dear of Release: 21st April 2017