Reaching for the light, interdisciplinary collective invite a kindred spirit to show them the way.
Traditionally perceived as a prog player, Markus Reuter has much more strings to his talent than the eye meets on the fretboard this German artist is bending before the public: away from audiences, he can pore over contemporary classical opuses or avant-garde epics which would go beyond the pale to empuzzle the composer’s usual fanbase. Commissioned by professor Dennis Kuhn, the MANNHEIMER SCHLAGWERK mastermind, “Sun Trance” falls between the two categories thanks to the ensemble’s unorthodox setup, but STICK MEN aficionados will find it appealing, too. It’s an ethereal yet emotionally intense piece of music that pulls the listener from the surface and takes them, gasping because of beauty, to translucent depth before a slow, almost imperceptible, ascent back to the atmosphere.
One would have to be insensitive to resist the call of crystal dewdrops which, shaped by glockenspiels and vibraphones, are fleshed out once silvery crotales let in a delicate drone courtesy of bass clarinet that rides on a simple beat before all of this is gently submerged into an electric soundscape. There’s a few changes in the overall flow, each one slightly recoloring the mood, and while Markus controls a shimmering background from the very start, when keyboards augment the aural picture it’s becoming palpable without losing the nigh on illusory texture for the composer’s Touch Guitar to enrich with harmonies and give a searing rock edge to.
That’s the only improvisation on display, as other instrumentalists have Reuter’s score in front of them, yet after his half-formed riff has solidified the overall tone gets much darker – and brightens after it’s faded, the piece returning to the natural chamber ambience where woodwind and chimes rule the den. The results are hypnotic even on video which is stored on this enhanced CD; sans visuals, the music is simply haunting.