Markus Reuter — Falling for Ascension
(Ronin Rhythm RON018, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-06-10
It’s beginning to look like a reviewer could make a full-time job of just writing about the music Markus Reuter releases. Even taking into consideration that many of them are live improvisations like Centrozoon, there’s a lot of them. This particular one is a bit of a different beast than other recent releases. The music is based on somewhat minimalistic patterns on different instruments that are fit together and repeated with different permutations, a technique that was pioneered in rock music by the 80s incarnation of King Crimson. Reuter’s take on it here ventures into more esoteric territory than Crimson ever did, without any concessions to song forms (and certainly no vocal parts). To manifest this vision, he’s enlisted the Swiss band Sonar, and if you’ve heard their minimalist rock, it’s immediately apparent that they are the perfect collaborators for the project. But when playing Reuter’s compositions, they stray from their obsession with C and F#, giving this music much more harmonic variety than their own recordings. Combine this with the composer’s own playing and production, and this is a very satisfying work of art. I suppose that, given the generally understated nature of the music, it could function in an ambient role, and given the lack of hummable melodies, might come off as lacking substance or emotional engagement for some listeners. To some extent, it seems like an intellectual exercise, but for someone who goes in for that sort of thing, it is a gem. And to be fair, there are elements of human expression involved, mainly in some parts that might be called solos (almost certainly Reuter’s own playing) which have a vaguely Frippian tinge and tone. Falling for Ascension is a bit like a halfway point between Stick Men and Todmorden 513 – I’m not going to say it’s for everyone, but it definitely gets my synapses firing.
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.