Yesterday in the post four CD's arrived. Two from Markus Reuter and two from Bill Rieflin. Here's a Sid's earview of two of them. . .
The Longest In Terms Of Being is Reuter's official follow-up to 1997's Taster and contains ten tracks which blend into each other in a seamless swirl of luxurious textures. Using looping technology, Reuter constructs an opulent sound-world with layers of luminous harmony resting on one another to gradually build up an intensely seductive environment. If there is a criticism with the album it is that Reuter the soloist is largely subsumed in his role as colourist and orchestration.
The relatively low costs of decent looping technology and the CD burner has seen a proliferation of cottage industry Fripp and Eno's springing up in recent years. Where Reuter scores over many of these noble attempts, is his artful use of tone and a restless movement to each of the pieces (composed and recorded in real time), never resorting to ill-advised gimmick's or unnecessary displays of flash dexterity.
Sombre without being po-faced and portentous without being pretentious, with it's first class production, design and packaging, The Longest In Terms Of Being show's that Reuter could easily show some of the old hands in the world of looping and electronica a thing or two about grace and poise.
It looks like this year's black is going to be black. Largo is the name given to an album of ten songs and two instrumentals performed by Bill Rieflin and Chris Connelly. Rieflin will be known to many in the DGM universe for his superb Birth Of A Giant and his collaboration with Fripp and Gunn on Repercussions Of Angelic Behaviour. Housed in a spartan sleeve with a glacially bleached out portrait of the pair, Largo as the title suggests has a slow, broad dignity about it. For the most part the songs are presented in simple paired-back settings, using sparse keyboards supplied by Rieflin and highlighting Connelly's pleasantly woozy vocal delivery as it drifts and scrapes between the octaves. Don't let the sparse setting fool you into thinking that this is an angst-ridden, miserablist expedition for one second however.
There's a wry humour present in many of the tracks but the gorgeously off-kilter Pray'r comes in on top with its winning combination of sardonically unsteady piano, playful shuffling groove and climbing strings. Similarly Connelly's deadpan delivery of the histrionics of Wake 2 is bound to bring an indulgent smirk to your chops, as will the breezy, cheesy, carefree summer travelogue sounds of Rondo.
On Wake 3, Connelly neatly articulates that dread that we've all felt from time to time, that we'll wake up from a night of troubled dreams only to discover that we've metamorphosed into David Bowie. They play it straight long enough however, to provide an effective rendition of John Cale's heartfelt lamentation, Close Watch in fine style.
Throughout the album, they receive glorious support from the gifted Fred Challenor on flowing bass (one of the talents and energies behind the excellent Hughscore) and a string section which adds a warm lustre.
Several of the pieces stray into those unexpected minor-key territories explored by the likes of Michael Mantler, Carla Bley and Robert Wyatt, where songs acquire an epic, ponderous grandeur whilst only drawing upon a minimal set of motifs and themes. This impression is strengthened by Rieflin's use of woebegone organ lines to describe the stark outlines of lonely tunes somehow making their cover of Robert Wyatt's Sea Song a fitting and inevitable conclusion. Largo could well be the record of the year in this neck of the woods.More later as they say. .