If someone asked me “what was Robert Fripp’s contribution to the history of music?” I would be strongly tempted to answer “his radical revision and re-evaluation of the concept of virtuoso”. To many, perhaps this will sound obvious. To others, my statement will seem perfectly trivial. I don’t think so. Robert Fripp has managed to represent a new model of virtuoso different from what was previously presented both in rock, jazz and classical. Fripp has shown that certain aspects of composure, seriousness, study and discipline can easily coexist in a musician of rock extraction, overturning various aesthetic canons fixed on forms of communication now abundantly exhausted. I reserve the right to deepen this aspect in a subsequent post.
What I want to highlight today is that Fripp was not a case in itself. His example, his discipline, his granite consistency led to the birth of a series of other musicians who, having taken note of his example, were inspired by him by building serious professional figures. I sincerely believe that Markus Reuter is one of these people.
We have already met Reuter on the “pages” of this blog on the occasion of the release, again for the meritorious Moonjune Records, of his album “Truce”, a record that had impressed me a lot and that I invite you to listen to again. Also on that occasion I had talked about him as a particular figure of “virtuoso”. It’s time to resume that discourse and deepen it. For reasons of space, I do not quote his biography.
I invite you to read it directly on Wikipedia( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markus_Reuter ). Impressive. This man, who I discover to be a little younger than me, has a simply impressive educational background and experience to his credit. It is the portrait of a multifaceted, curious, multidisciplinary personality, in a word Reuter looks like a Renaissance figure. A bearer of restless, bulimic and tireless creativity. As I write, in front of me on my desk there are four records, all released in this unfortunate 2020, four cds that join the aforementioned “Truce” and represent an extraordinary condensation of ideas, concentrated in such a short period of time.
Let’s start with “Shapeshifters”, a record that maintains the trio formula of “Truce”, with the presence of Tim Motzer (guitar, bass, electronics) and Kenny Grottowski (drums, metals). This record answers the following questions: what could three “shape-shifting” musicians do together in a high-energy creative environment? What types of behavior will be observed and what forms could they take?
“Oculus Nothing is Sacred” which again sees the presence of Fabio Trentini on bass and Adaf Sirkis on drums embellished by that of David Cross (Rhodes and Electric Violin), Robert Rich (textures) and another Moonjune virtuoso, Mark Wingfield . If “Truce” was the work of a new progressive trio, “Oculus” gives more space to Reuter’s compositional skills by providing him with the most articulated structure of a real ensemble.
“This is insane music. I used a compositional system that basically disallowed the musicians to play intuitively. They had to follow rules which served to create really strange melodies and harmonies,” Markus revealed. “In the back of my mind, I wanted to create something as fundamentally radical as was (Miles Davis’) ‘Bitches Brew,’ back in the day … sort of an improvising ‘big band’ – where each player is on their own when it comes to specific pitches, but connected in terms of a common rhythmic grid and unified texture.”
Reuter brings his compositional and organizational skills to the limits of tension in “Sun Trance”. Supported by an ensemble of eleven elements, Markus Reuter embarks on a more ambitious project. Recorded live in Mannheim, Germany in 2017, “Sun Trance” could perhaps best be described as a kind of trance-avantgarde-psychedelic sonic hybrid.
Dulcis in fundo: Stick Men! Almost paradoxical trio, born from two ribs of King Crimson, the legendary Tony Levin (Chapman stick) and Pat Mastelotto (drums, acoustic and electronic percussion). This album “Owari” testifies to their last tour in China, Hong Kong and Japan, abruptly interrupted by the arrival of Covid-19. Tourne really unfortunate, the great Gary Husband (Allan Holdsworth; John McLaughlin, Jack Bruce) was also present with the trio.
Four different records. Four different shapes. Four different musical environments. The only constant is Markus Reuter. Multiform. Chameleon. This composer disguised as a guitarist never ceases to amaze and impress.