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Markus Reuter - Digitalis



2001. The first Hypnos release by Markus Reuter. Based in Germany, Markus is a member of Europa String Choir, an instrumental group whose recent work has been released on Robert Fripp's DGM label. His two previous works in the ambient genre (as 1/2 of Centrozoon, and with Ian Boddy) were released on Boddy's DiN label, and both items have been very popular items at the Hypnos Online Store.

Markus's instrument is the Warr Guitar, a tap-style 8-stringed instrument which is played less like a true "guitar" and more like a Chapman Stick. The sound, especially on Digitalis, goes through heavy electronic processing, with the result that (like fellow Hypnos label guitarists Jeff Pearce and David Tollefson) he ends up with a very un-guitar-like sound, but with a "feel" and style of playing that sets it apart from keyboard-played electronics. DIGITALIS has a fairly bright and vivid sound, as compared to the smooth and mellow tones of Pearce, or the heavier, sometimes challenging sound of Tollefson. Still, the end result is abstract and definitely "ambient."


01 swallowed cold
02 toward the invisible world
03 forces tending to unbalance
04 into the invisible world
05 the invisible world
06 a massive glowing three-axis cross
07 demonic interference
08 radiating blackness
09 angelic interference
10 beyond the limit of the fire
11 whole
12 holy



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Reviews

"Released a few months ago on Mike Griffin's Hypnos label, Digitalis is the latest work by touchstyle guitarist Markus Reuter. He has also recently released another solo project, The Longest In Terms Of Being, which is an engrossing work of ambient sound made solely with the touch guitar. Digitalis was recorded in real-time onto a 2-track stereo in 1999. Twelve tracks which mostly blend into one another creating a consistent whole, although there's a marked dip into silence on track 8 ("radiating blackness"), and the tracks further break up following this point. Swirls of sound, harmonics and drifting ambience dominate this beautiful recording. Reuter's touch guitar is just the beginning for a host of delay techniques, loops, and live manipulations; really it's quite remarkable that this music is created in real-time. I'll admit however that I found this work less engaging than The Longest In Terms Of Being, which was able to captivate my attention with a more simplified sound palette. Here, the swirls of cloud 9 can be a little much, and where this record shines is where the loops and delays take over (as in the track "whole", or in the finale "holy" which closes things off rather nicely), and take you astride their irresistible currents."
--Incursion, Richard di Santo

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"Markus Reuter plays the touch guitar and benefits from the different approach afforded by an instrument that does not resemble the typical tools (i.e. synthesizers) used to produce our community's wealth of musical releases. Reuter could surely market his album Digitalis as a demo disc of the latest in sound manipulation and processing gear, but his vision as an artist in ambient sound is clearly evident and Digitalis rises above our too often technology driven medium.

Recorded essentially in real-time, Digitalis is a churning and drifting swirl of interesting harmonics and subtle moods realized through the vision and character of an insightful musician. The idea of layering the sounds of a guitar by means of a long delay is about as old as our modern concept of ambient music. On Digitalis, Reuter stretches the parameters of his tools and the depth of the genre and aspires to more than he inherited. On one hand, Digitalis does represent Reuter's mastery of the gear that loops, shifts, delays, flanges and filters a sound source. However, his involvement with the music goes deeper than just twidling knobs. Talent is the invisible force behind this gentle and amorphus music - acting like a soft breeze on the direction of mountain mist."
--Star's End Radio host Chuck VanZyl

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"Well, I guess I won't have to wait for reviews cuz I just got this disc today, and it's a great one, really surprising as a Hypnos release on first listen but the more the music seeps in, the more it really fits the Hypnos vision. The first eight tracks are really one long piece, and the mood can best be described (at least this is what comes to my mind) as a carousel ride on acid! When I say carousel, I mean literally, these bright kind of up-down arpeggios, with some truly mind-bending ambient techniques which make it sound oh-so-hallucinogenic. There is a great sense of uneasiness, but at the same time you don't want to get off the "ride," you want to keep going just one more time. The album then quiets down to some very nice droning atmospherics, next the carousel theme re-emerges, and finally leads to the fifteen minute closing piece, which is a real beauty--definitely in the Fripp/Sylvian arena, with a kind of mournful yet hopeful melodic theme. Another top-notch Hypnos release, highly recommended!"
--Orion32 on the Hypnos Forum

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"Markus Reuter is known for his work with Ian Boddy and the Europa String Choir; his Digitalis marks an excursion into abstract ambient noise. This record is very dissonant -- or, like Claude Debussy, Reuter really pushes the envelope on consonance as it relates to the melodic and harmonic relationship within the context of a respective piece. Reuter's music is marked by dissonant melodic runs and streaks through whole-tone scales and other modes that are quite hard on the ears. Perhaps the strangeness of this recording has something to do with the apparatus that he's using to make the recording, which is described as a tap-style eight-stringed guitar-like instrument, which is played less like a true guitar and more like a Chapman Stick. The tracks on Digitalis seemingly run together with little or no comprehensible order, almost as if they were completely improvised. In a lot of ways, this recording may remind listeners of some of Sun Ra's work, but there is more dissonance and less use of silence as a compositional tool. From an experimental and stylistic perspective, this recording is a gem."
--All Music Guide