September 2003
interview with Markus Reuter
by Ian C Stewart

Progressive ambient techno experimental pop trio Centrozoon formed in 1996. Vocalist Tim Bowness is also one half of No-Man with Steven Wilson, while Bernhard Wöstheinrich plays synths and percussion.

Touch guitarist Markus Reuter talks about his history with the unique instrument. "I started playing ten and twelve-string Chapman Stick in January 1993 and I switched to eight-string Warr Guitar some time in 1997."

Prior to Centrozoon, Reuter was in the Europa String Choir, a group that's ready for a revival. "We are considering getting back together to record new music in the fall of this year. The ESC in its quartet configuration recorded one album called Lemon Crash, which was released by DGM early in the year 2000. The music on that album is wonderful in several respects. It is contemporary and acoustic-sounding thanks to David Bottrill's mixing work. It is accessible and still very complex in its own way. The Europa String Choir was one of the major stepping stones in my career."

Reuter is also an accomplished solo artist with several releases available. "There's material for another three-to-five solo albums. One, which was recorded in September 2000, will be released soon. More recent sessions from October 2002 were originally recorded for another solo album, but I've now sent them over to Ian Boddy in the United Kingdom for a new Boddy/Reuter collaboration album."

Explaining Ian Boddy's background, he continues. "Ian is a relatively well-known musician and producer from England. He comes from the cheesy synth, EM kind of style originally and has been active since the early 80s. In the mid-90s he left his former path and started to work in more abstract ways and is one of the leading figures in modern ambient electronica these days, comparable to Robert Rich, Steve Roach, etc. His name is still very much connected to his former career, but he is now getting to another place musically, which is great. Ian's got a cult following and he considers the collaboration we did on Distant Rituals his best work to date. The album is entirely based on digital delay loops that I recorded in the studio and he then started treating and forming them. The result is great."

Centrozoon has two new releases. "The Centrozoon trio album featuring Tim Bowness of No-Man on vocals plus a collaboration album, Centrozoon vs. BPM&M, which King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto produced and played drums on. Pat is a great guy and wonderful musician. We were very lucky that he and Bill Munyon were up and inspired to work with us. The people who've listened to their production of our songs said that they sound like what one would have expected if David Sylvian had joined King Crimson in the late 90s. I don't know, but there you go..."

Speaking of David Sylvian, what did Reuter think of his new album Blemish? "I like it very much. I only recently started listening to Christian Fennesz. It's very interesting for me to check out his stuff, since he's been mentioned a lot recently. His music is much more reduced in terms of harmonic complexity and density than most of the music I've produced so far, but much more developed in terms of texture. I am interested in switching to a more textured, harmonically more limited and simple mode of music. The only trouble is that I get bored with simple harmonies very easily, so I need to force myself to change, which is good."

A future in heavy metal, perhaps? "I love any kind of music. I am not sure what the exact definition of 'heavy metal' is, though. I am a big fan of Tool, which is one of my most recent musical discoveries. Two of my most personal releases - Centrozoon's the cult of:bibbiboo and my solo album Digitalis - are very heavy in their own respect, and I enjoy heavy stuff a lot. I am not sure if I will ever play with a metal band, although it would definitely be great. It largely depends on the musicians I'll meet and work with in the future."

Reuter seems restless being on an independent label. "I am very lucky to have good professional outlets for my music like DiN and Burning Shed, but there is no promo budget, which is a real pain. That means that I am taking care of marketing my own stuff, which is expensive and which is killing my energies at the moment. The Centrozoon trio needs major label in order to move on."

Which major label would best suit Centrozoon? "I have no idea. There are many, but the moment our material seems to be too "too" for them. I personally would love to be able to release on Virgin, but they turned us down already. What a mistake! Ha! It is a matter of fact that it is very difficult to make a living off being a professional musician these days. Most people seem to consider music to be in the public domain. That is basically fine for me, but the trouble is that modern technology is not offering the necessary feedback to the musician. Once a file is shared on the net, it is almost impossible to tell how many people downloaded it and liked it. Live performance is the key to the future, I think, but I might be completely wrong. Anyway, a big change in how people are - how they act - is needed. I have no idea what will happen. The online world offers a great tool for musicians to market their music, but it also limits them in a big way."

How so? "The online world is not the real world, yet. You will only reach those that you reach and that's not enough. If one is looking for feedback, making music is not the best way to achieve that."

So what are the goals for Centrozoon? World domination? "Hey man, you asked for it: Centrozoon's main goal is to entertain God."

Check out www.centrozoon.de to purchase CDs and for news, MP3s and more.

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