Markus Reuter – Todmorden 513

Yes, this LP is about the Lancs/Yorks border town of Todmorden. Really.  Many’s the time I’ve driven through the place, or seen it glowering and squatted imperturbably in the folds of the valleys whilst sat on the York – Blackpool line. Looking at Toddy in my mind’s eye as I write, (I’ve never bothered or dared to stop there), I’m still slightly baffled as to why anyone would want to devote such an intellectual undertaking to the place. Fair do’s, mind.

The 513 bit in the title hints at more cerebral matters; and I’m better off quoting the sleeve notes, (written by none other than Henry Warwick, Ryerson University, Toronto, CA), to explain this bit: “it is a continuous movement and sequence of five hundred and thirteen harmonies and triads generated by a combinatorial compositional technique of Reuter’s own design…. The result is a shifting set of harmonic densities… ranging from a harmony of two instruments to other moments of thick and lush instrumentation”.
In some ways giving you this kind of information about the record as an introduction to the review makes it extremely difficult to describe the music you will hear. I’ll have to stick to general impressions of the piece, then, as the music, for all its intellectual side has a very strong impressionist feeling. It certainly doesn’t sound like an academic work. And it is a very cohesive and determined piece; possibly because the changes are more concerned with the incremental build-up of texture and feel rather than massive changes of sonic or emotional direction or shifts of mood and pace.

Despite the LP being pretty one-paced, Todmorden imparts a dreamy and lyrical quality throughout the hour’s running time. T–Dream’s Zeit is a close reference; there’s an electrical, spacey vibe that is very much in keeping with early Kosmische sounds from Froese or Popol Vuh’s Florian Fricke. Or even what Kaada comes up with (his work with Mike Patton springs to mind). It’s atmospheric and emotional stuff; the mental image of tramping the hills and valleys under night skies is a very strong one. The sounds from each section hang about long enough to make an impression, only to subtly shift: and this allows a feeling of otherworldly, filmic references to be stored by the listener.  It’s certainly one of those LPs you can stick on and allow to hang around whilst your mind is occupied by other matters.

Interesting, and surprisingly accessible.