5.1 Review: TRUCE by Markus Reuter, feat. Fabio Trentini and Asaf Sirkis

Discussing the immersive audio album breakout star of 2020 to date.
By Ben Jacklin

It is fair to say that Markus Reuter isn’t quite a household name. Some of the work this incredible multi-instrumentalist has done is behind-the-scenes, collaborating with some very popular and influential musicians. Reuter may be best-known for his work as a touch guitarist (the art of tapping guitar strings along the fret with both hands for a harmonic and complex tone).

Guitar isn’t the only impressive skill in his repertoire. Reuter has worked with former King Crimson member Trey Gunn, and has also created classical compositions as well as work in the Jazz and Prog genres. TRUCE is something of a fusion of the latter two genres, as Reuter uses his solo recordings to experiment with his incredible multi-instrumentalism and production skills.

It is worth reading more about Markus, who seems to be absolutely prolific within the industry, working on numerous musical projects whilst simultaneously teaching touch guitar and even designing new instruments. This is a man with an insatiable appetite for finding new sounds, and the 5.1 mix of TRUCE shows exactly this.

The album starts with the semi-title track “The Truce.” You can instantly see why a surround sound palate is necessary for this album. The 11-minute epic layers fascinating sounds, rhythms, and time signatures to evolve all around the listener. At times, a feel of ‘80s Gary Numan bass emerges. Though the track starts with jarring timings and a discombobulated feel, it breaks into a rhythmic groove with percussion to get toes tapping before a frantic guitar-based finale.

“Swoonage” has a mellow, interlude vibe with a slower tempo, and Satriani-style guitar wails, before “Bogeyman” builds around us in surround sound with a synthesizer soundscape that could belong in Stranger Things. Eventually, the prog-rock sound and that unbelievable, superspeed guitar takes over as the timings get choppy, with just the infectious bassline keeping us grounded. Callback rhythms within the groove give us moments of clarity as the song approaches its conclusion, making way for another soundscape, the opening of “Be Still My Brazen Heart.”

Jazz percussion builds in multiple dimensions as the surround sound format is perhaps at its most impressive. Reuter shows off his virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist and engineer talents, bringing synths and basslines swelling in the next track – “Power Series” – along with even more of the truly impressive guitar-tapping solos.

The gloriously-named “Let Me Touch Your Batman” is the penultimate track. There is certainly a cinematic feel to the soundscape and percussion. Batman could be prowling in the shadows, as the track grows to a discordant and somewhat eerie finish.

By comparison, the conclusion of “Gossamer Things” is mellow, tuneful, and perhaps even catchy. It offers a satisfying end to the album and revolves around one central riff, with room for Reuter and his musician collaborators to flex and freestyle around a theme.

The album draws to a close with glistening synths and fading percussion. You’ve truly been on a journey by the end. Though TRUCE may not have been released with the same fanfare as some other 2020 surround sound and immersive albums, this is a 5.1 mix to satisfy every audiophile. This listener could see TRUCE work its way into Grammy contention.

About the Author

Ben is a writer and musician from the UK with a background in music technology. He writes about engineering and production, musicianship and music equipment for a number of publications including his own site, subreel.com