Markus Reuter – Truce (MoonJune, 2020)
Do you remember that friend of yours, the one you met at that show, the one who told you ‘God bless the music of the 70s, the oldies goldies, there’s no more good music nowadays, isn’t it’? Look for him. Hunt him down. Bring a pair of headphones with you. Put on your friend’s ears. Press play. Let him listen Markus Reuter‘s Truce. This record, which incidentally marks the 100th release of boudary-pushing label MoonJune, is a masterpiece of the new, thrown in the face of those who still cram in the past.
Touch guitarist, composer and explorer of multiple means of creativity, Markus Reuter has changed many skins during his life, still retaining a clear and undistinghuishable mark of his own: a knotty, hypnotic, intellectually complex mix of progressive rock and modern composition that thrills the emotional side of the brain. Through soundscaping, contemporary classical-influenced structures, aggressive rhythmic explorations until touring last year with metal avantgardist icon Devin Townsend, he is relentlessly generating new concepts under the surface of his instrumental travels. And his latest adventure with the canadian prog metaller kind of resontates with the trio recording Truce. Sided by Israeli drummer Asaf Sirkis and by Italian bassist Fabio Trentini, they deliver a true ‘shred of the 21st century’ manifesto.
A vignette of shimmering fireflies moving under a starry night sky, that is the intro of the eponymous track of the album. The pace of time is suspended. Time is under investigation. Sirkis places clever beats, doubling down the sense of disconnection. The sound of the bass played by Trentini is cumbersome, fatty; and deliciously groovy. Reuter makes plenty of his trademark self-evolving, haunting soundscapes; he adds polyrhythmic, increasingly imploding, spiralling solo bites. Moving on from the introverted theme at the start of the track, constructed as a neverending solo, his phrasing is disrupting, aggressive, devastating. The impressive energy takes rest only with a break driven by Sirkis‘s drums and Trentini’s Levin-like plucking of the bass strings at around the seven minutes mark. The riddle of intricate and overlapping melodies at the bottom of the soundscape emerges, until Reuter takes back hidden parts of the initial theme for a ProjeKct-like coda.
It’s time for me to remember the good old days, but this there’s no regret to go ahead. If there’s an hidden mark in Reuter‘s music, it stays in his ability to elicit, move misknown parts of the memory, gently nudging the listener to remember something she or he was unaware. Swoonage is my way back into Metallica‘s Fade to Black, from their 2nd album Ride the Lightning. A slow, raw and simple beat moves hand in hand with a smooth bass. Few notes going downward on the lowest register, that’s triggering that anthemic metal ballad in my memory. Then an upward move under an heartfelt, emotionally driven, tearing theme by Reuter. A suntrap of sincerity that braces the listener for an intimate travel until the final distorted chord.
Many of the songs in Truce share a similar standpoint, starting with the mold of Reuter‘s soundscape that bulges into the funky, catchy lines by Trentini‘s bass. Take Gossamer Things as example, with its twisted and juicy opening; or Power Series, seemingly a nod to Mick Karn‘s legacy. There’s this triangle at the center of everything: the warm bass themes, the pensive carpets of reveries and the riddling energy powered by the drumming. In this context, Reuter is probably everything but a solo player: no matter he is monopolyzing the upper register, he continuously seeks to add distorted layers over layers of notes, exploring superfast polyrhythmic licks. Like in Let me Touch Your Batman, when he continuosly comes back to small cells of the theme, using them as traces of potential solo starts and looking to recall the subconscious side of the brain than rather to amuse the ear with the thematic development.
Harnessing the immense skills of three montser musicians at ease in improvisation like few others, MoonJune‘s 100th landmark recording could be no different than taking no-compromises and daring a leap forward. Recorded in May 2019 at La Casa Murada, the usual location for many of the studio experiments of the label, this record saw the participation of Fabio Trentini to the usual roster of artists producer Leonardo Pavkovic loves to work with. The overall chemistry of the three musicians is evident and it’s exciting to know that seemingly this trio will have a chapter two later this year. Truce is the kind of revitalizing record for those who secretly loved Fripp‘s ProjeKct, but also shred guitarists, prog-rock, but also metal. And once again Markus Reuter brings more open minded thinking about where to go next in music.
1.The Truce 11:56
4.Be Still My Brazen Heart 08:46
5.Power Series 09:03
6.Let Me Touch Your Batman 09:52
7.Gossamer Things 11:50
Written and performed by Reuter/Trentini/Sirkis
Recorded live in the studio at La Casa Murada, Banyeres del Penedes, Spain, on May 16 2019.
Markus Reuter: Touch Guitars® AU8, Live Looping
Fabio Trentini: Wal Fretless Bass, Bass Synthesizer
Asaf Sirkis: Acoustic Drums
Recording engineer: Jesus Rovira
Post-production and mix by Fabio Trentini
Mastered by Lee Fletcher
Produced by Markus Reuter and Fabio Trentini
Executive producer, project initiator and facilitator: Leonardo Pavkovic