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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Markus Reuter Todmorden 513

More contemporary classical in its outlook and design than the epic ambient music forays for which the touch guitarist is better known for, Markus Reuter’s Todmorden 513 is a continuous 60 minute suite that combines a traditional chamber music instruments with electric and acoustic guitars, glockenspiel, recorder, synthesiser and organ.

Quite why Reuter chose to name his contemporary classical music outing after a village in West Yorkshire remains obscure - presumably it's nothing to do with it being the birthplace of Keith Emerson! However, when we learn that the name, Todmorden, is derived from two words meaning death, then the overwhelmingly sombre mood is eerily appropriate.

Like Morton Feldman’s darker excursions, which Todmorden 513 most closely resembles, texture rather than temperament or technique are the motivating forces at work here.

The combination of real strings and their electronic counterparts gives this music a stately opulence, but it’s a grandeur that’s also touched by spores of slow decay, an implicit minor-key melancholia that tinges and stains. As with most pieces of music notionally described as “minimalist”, there’s plenty of rich, dark detail going on just below the surface.

Buzz-saw guitars rise up to grind against woozy, undulating surfaces which in turn are subsumed by the impervious sheen of sustained organ swells. Clusters of touch guitar and electric organ tones provide harmonic glints and sparkles against the dense suspension of pensive, elegiac violin and cello.

Like one of those decorative snow globes wherein a hermetically sealed world is violently shaken, the beauty here is found in listening as all of the elements coalesce in slow-motion spirals, forming new relationships and establishing unsettling boundaries.

Find out more about the music at the Todmorden 513 website.

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