Markus Reuter



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About Trepanation


1   The Key To Conscience

2   Preparation

3   3–4 Days Before The Echo

4   No Part Of Me Could Summon A Voice

5   A Prospect That Is Simple

6   Beat

7   Oneness To Deceive

8   Number Of The Mind

The psychoactive work Trepanation is Markus Reuter‘s 6th solo album, and his second release on a US label.

Alternately dense and sparse, disturbing and serene, Trepanation consists of tonal instrumental foundations into which half-heard voices and field recordings are embedded in order to evoke the disconnected floating sensation of the subconscious state.

The word “trepanation” refers to the now-abandoned practice of removing a piece of the skull to relieve pressure on the brain. This practice was used to treat a number of psychological conditions. Markus initially visualized the music on this release being a less invasive method of achieving similar goals.

Echoing chords and voices half-heard contribute to the dreamlike state induced by Trepanation. At times dense, others sparse; at times disturbing and others serene, Markus Reuter lays a tonal foundation over which partially-intelligible voices and other effects contribute to the disconnected floating atmosphere of the subconscious state.

Trepanation shimmers with masterfully crafted layers and contrast, combining soft atmospheres and pulsing rhythmic guitar textures, while still sounding quite different than other releases created in a similar vein.


There is a distinctly cinematic quality to the pieces that make up Markus Reuter’s excellent work, Trepanation. Each track has a character all its own and creates a strong, layered mental image through sound—fully realized scenes in search of their visuals yet existing perfectly without them. Reuter glides along his music’s narrative path from dark to light, beginning with the hammer-fall piano of ‘The Key to Conscience’ and culminating in the meditative grace of ‘Number of the Mind.’ Along the way, Reuter easily blends deft musicianship and a range of instrumentation with environmental and displaced sounds—children’s laughter, distant conversations, or the darkly authoritarian voice giving wordless commands in the slightly disturbing ‘Preparation.’ His layers are thick and elegantly constructed; in any given moment there are a good number of things going on sonically, all demanding attention and all quite worthy of it. Reuter’s at his best here in ‘3 to 4 Days Before the Echo,’ an immersive, stunning 15-minute piece that pairs deep-space swirls with savage, sudden punches of percussion to superb dramatic effect; ‘Beat,’ which slips in with calming, muted vibraphone-style tones and an easy rhythm; and the aforementioned ‘Number of the Mind,’ a spiritual and mental balm that moves along slowly to bring this superb listening experience to a refreshing close

- Hypnagogue

Trepanation (an ancient medical practice that involves drilling holes in the skull) is an intensely unpleasant title for what turns out to be an unremittingly beautiful album. Austrian guitarist Markus Reuter has perfected a style of lush, layered, complicated process composition that combines surfaces of straightforward beauty with hidden depths of complexity and sometimes a richly forbidding darkness. Consider, for example, ‘Preparation,’ which takes ambient guitar sounds and an altered vocal sample that come together to evoke Bill Nelson at his most gnostic (in particular, the Chance Encounters in the Garden of Light album). But lurking underneath that top layer of soothing prettiness is a quietly heaving minor-key chord progression that gently undermines the whole mood of spiritual contemplation with something a bit more troubling. The very long ‘3-4 Days Before the Echo’ and ‘Beat’ are both primarily characterized by shimmering abstraction, while ‘No Part of Me Could Summon a Voice’ combines something that sounds like electronically generated overtone singing with samples of kids playing in a sprinkler -- here the effect is more like the guitar-plus-found-sound approach of Fred Frith's early solo work. The album ends with the slow-developing and utterly gorgeous ‘Number of the Mind,’ which leaves the mental palate clean and refreshed.

- Rick Anderson,

As much as I like ambient and electronic music, it can all start sounding the same after a while. So it is really refreshing when an album like Markus Reuter’s Trepanation comes along to challenge preconceptions of what this genre is all about. ‘The Key to Conscience’ defies easy categorization, with its quirky start-and-stop motion, the sounds sort of pinging in and out of the mix. It is restless and unsettled, yet there is smoothness as well. ‘Preparation’ has an interesting vocal sample that repeats on occasion, surrounded by negligible yet dramatic music, moving forward as if on tiptoe in the dark. The interestingly named ‘3-4 Days Before the Echo’ has a quirkier style similar to the first track, the music behaving at times as if it has been sliced up and spliced back together. But again, for all the restlessness there is grace also. The echoes grow and become more insistent, then slowly fade away as we near the end of almost 17 minutes of captivating musical meanderings. Unusual field recordings hang in the background of ‘No Part of Me Could Summon a Voice,’ from children’s voices to something like typing on an old manual typewriter. High-pitched glassy electronic tones complete the minimal package. The surreal sounds of Reuter’s Warr guitar appear throughout, but are particularly noticeable on ‘A Prospect that is Simple,’ a drifting ethereal piece. Listening to ‘Beat,’ I marvel at its simplicity while being strikingly original, as I do throughout Trepanation. Inventive and invigorating.

- Phil Derby, Electroambient Space

In this album, Markus Reuter appears to be a born shaper of dreamlike Ambient, slow and not lacking in melody. As if it were a sort of modern alchemist, he mixes textures of sound and chords in atypical ways, producing unexpected combinations, which give his music a great personality. The tracks flow along different registers and gradings. Some are cosmic and crystaline. Others turn out to be mysterious.

- Edgar Kolger, Amazing Sounds

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