Unsung Records UR003, CD
A result of alchemical triangulation.
Hermetic inquiry by two recordists
meeting in one room to divine a response.
To embrace the instantaneous,
the mysterious, the accidental
Thirteen possibilities of retort
A reply encoded in this sequence
13 short pieces, which fall together as a sort of puzzle, sometimes odd and playful, sometimes rather intense.
This international collaboration was conceived, composed and recorded in person in one intense week at Robert Rich's Soundscape studio in California. Rich then completed, mixed and mastered the work over the subsequent two months.
Robert Rich is an ambient musician and composer. With a discography spanning over 20 years, he is widely regarded as a figure whose sound has greatly influenced today's ambient, new age, and even IDM music. Markus Reuter is an up-and-coming German producer, guitarist, & composer, working with such ground-breaking groups as CENTROZOON and TUNER, a collaboration with King Crimson's Pat Mastelotto.
Unlike most releases of the ambient/electronica genre, each piece on Eleven Questions has an instant hookiness. The songs form short, concise statements. The album features mostly acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments (lap steel, touch guitar, piano, acoustic guitar, flutes) rather than synthesizers. With audiophile sensibilities, Rich and Reuter employed the best of custom tube, vintage and contemporary studio equipment to craft a unique sonic landscape.
This is an album for lovers of modern movie soundtracks, sound fanatics and people who look for beauty and melody in contemporary music.
Markus Reuter - Touch Guitar, Acoustic Guuitar, Piano
Robert Rich - Sound Design, Piano, Flutes, Lap Steel Guitar
SiRenÃ©e - Voices
Mixed and mastered by Robert Rich.
Composed by Markus Reuter and Robert Rich.
Photography by Brad Cole. Design by John Bergin.
Special thanks to Metasonix, Haroun Serang, Bernhard WÃ¶stheinrich, Dixie, Synthesis Technology and many others.
On Eleven Questions (Unsung), Markus Reuter and Robert Rich pool their resources, pull their disparate talents together, and come up trumps on all counts. Reuter's pretty much a master of the touch guitar, which can be played upright and slapped about to achieve both guitar and bass-like effects, much the Chapman Stick. Rich, of course, not only brandishes his patented brand of electronic gadgetry (he's credited with overall "sound design" here), but also his trusty piano, flutes and lap steel guitar. Nevertheless, the blending of all these noisemakers is seamless; it's unimportant who does what when the end result justifies the means. Reuter and Rich produce some engaging propulsive environments, bringing to mind Jon Hassell's Power Spot, Rain Tree Crow, (including some of the early Jansen/Barbieri experiments), even Steve Tibbetts at times, wrapping the listener in their rubbery gauze before sinking him leagues below the earth's crust. Atmospheres range from galactic to ground-swelling: "Recall" (all the tracks begin with 'R', for reasons only known to the duo), all demonized guitar chatter and gnomic voices amidst numerous pregnant pauses of synth, situates you in one particularly lonely, possibly unfriendly, place. Moments of this album revisit the inebriated undergrowth found on Rich's grossly underrated Bestiary, and Reuter himself is an excellent foil, wrapping his tense guitar lines (nipping from skronk, silk, and lace, realized in small pieces, tasteful and inventive) around Rich's somnambulant drones with Frippian/Crimsonoid menace, an element usually not found in the kind of fourth-world gestalts empowered here, where their very incongruity becomes a key asset befitting the entire enterprise.
DARREN BERGSTEIN, 'Circuit Breakers' column / Signal to Noise #49