German touch-guitarist Markus Reuter has been heard in a variety of contexts: with Stick Men, providing bass, lead and soundscaping as on Panamerica (MoonJune Records, 2019); and with guitarist Mark Wingfield on The Stone House (MoonJune Records, 2017) and Lighthouse (MoonJune Records, 2017). His eight-string touch guitar covers both bass and guitar ranges, often making it difficult to differentiate his parts from the other group members.
No such confusion here: for its historic 100th release, MuneJune Records features him as the guitarist in an improvisational power trio with Italian bassist Fabio Trentini and Israeli drummer Asaf Sirkis. Sirkis and Reuter have a long playing history, including the two MoonJune sessions mentioned earlier. Trentini is new to the party, and in fact says that this was his first wholly improvised session (not that anyone could tell by listening). The title tune opens the set with a soundscape and a swaggering bass line, soon joined by an insidious drum groove. When the over-driven lead enters it's more like a quartet than a triotypical of any recording with Reuterbut there is no question about who is responsible for the solo part. "Swoonage" shows a different side of the touch guitar sound at the beginning: a chiming chordal part, which does give way to an over-driven lead line. The moody bass line brings out a chromatic solo that invites comparison to King Crimson founder Robert Fripp (Reuter does often play Fripp parts on the Crimson tunes in Stick Men's repertoire).
"Be Still My Brazen Heart" opens with an especially atmospheric soundscape, and retains a rubato feel throughout. It builds in intensity, featuring an abandoned guitar solo and brief drum and bass solos before swelling to a conclusion with guitar in the lead. "Let Me Touch Your Batman" (the title sounds like something you might hear at ComiCon) has an energy and menace that makes the title sound more like a demand than a question. Closer "Gossamer Things" is built on an especially catchy bass line. Trentini switches to a more insistent riff to signal the end of the piece. But a soundscape with a few well-placed drum hits have the last word.
While Markus Reuter has contributed to many excellent albums, it is a special treat to hear him take center stage the way he does here. It makes it easy to hear him as a fiery, creative soloist (as well as an excellent soundscaper). Not just a great touch-guitarist, but a great guitarist, period.
The Truce; Swoonage; Bogeyman; Be Still My Brazen Heart; Power Series; Let Me Touch Your Batman; Gossamer Things.
Markus Reuter, Touch Guitars® AU8, live looping; Fabio Trentini: Wal fretless bass, bass synthesizer; Asaf Sirkis: acoustic drums.
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