Music Reviews

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Artist: Tuner (Pat Mastelotto & Markus Reute
Title: Totem
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Unsung records (@)
Distributor: The Orchard, Soleilmoon, Burning Shed, DGM, Penn Music, JPC
Rated: *****
Except for the Young Gods and more live-d'n'b-oriented projects (such as the ones by Jojo Majer or Guy Licata), it seems to me that very few bands have understood how much a live drummer rocking out on his skins (instead of just swinging on the cymbals like many goth bands have done) can add to an electronic music project, making it more exciting, more powerful and more delivering. This record might not be able to change the course of events for the better in the future, but at least adds another great example of how effective the drum+electronics union really is.
US drummer Pat Mastelotto is certainly not new to this concept (he used to also play for King Crimson for more than 10 years), so when you pair up a guy like him with Germany's virtuoso touch-guitarist Markus Reuter (of Centrozoon fame), you'll pretty quickly end up with some kick ass good electronic-rock music. Contrarywise to what you might expect, this is not your average technical-abilities-showcasing prog-rock old-timers reuinion were skilled cats celebrate themselves with never ending solos and intricate fusion of rock tunes and jazz constructions. "Totem" rather focuses on composition and on conveying the message, whatever that might be, in an articulate, powerful and engaging way. Their mixture of avant-rock is heavily infuenced by the sum of the duo's experiences but sounds new and original all together. The multi-faceted talents of Mastelotto's versatile performances come out in the form of wild cymbal-heavy experimental drumming, drum-pad beats, square on the money drumming with powerful tom toms breaks (that might actually remind you of some of the afore-mentioned Swiss trio's stuff) and all of what's within the wide spectrum of a drummer's sonic and rhythmical palette. The space around him is smartly and un-obtrusively filled by guitar, bass, hammond parts, layers of electronics and even heavily-manipulated vocal parts, all written by Reuter in a way that complements Mastelotto's ideas while still showing Reuter's training without having to splatter out one single note of what you'd conventionally refer to as a solo. In fact you'll hardly ever hear anything like a regular guitar sound at all, since Reuter's prime pride is his touch-guitar, an instrument with an eight octave pitch range that he complements and interfaces with all his other electronic equipment (that includes what seems to be becoming every live musician's favourite digital performance software-based tool: Abelton Live).
Without getting too technical or too windy, I strongly suggest that you check out this Unsung Records release. The CD also features a video clip (directed by Renee Stieger) that showcases the most drum'n'bass (speaking off...) track on the record. Too bad that nothing of the duo's performance is included in the video.
Also make sure to check out and
A great example of musicianship and electro-acoustic rock-electronica.

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