Wingfield Reuter Sirkis: Lighthouse
MoonJune Records

The press release for this meeting of three spirits—guitarist Mark Wingfield, touch guitarist Markus Reuter, and drummer Asaf Sirkis—makes the rather hyperbolic assertion that Lighthouse “represents a true paradigm shift in what improvised music can be”; it also contends that the album's neither progressive rock nor free improv, even if it is admittedly progressive in its forward-thinking sensibility and improv-related, given that it was recorded entirely live in the studio and was ‘composed' at the moment when it was performed. There could conceivably be quibbling over such details and various positions staked out, but there's undoubtedly one thing on which all would agree: the music on Lighthouse is heavy indeed.

Recorded at La Casa Murada Studios in Spain on February 18, 2016, Lighthouse follows the also all-improvised The Stone House, which was issued first but actually was recorded second during a marathon six-day's worth of sessions that, we're told, will ultimately yield more than the three albums initially planned. If there's telepathy evident on Lighthouse, one reason for it is that Sirkis played on Wingfield's superb 2015 album Proof of Light and thus already is well-acquainted with the American-born British guitarist's playing style. Rounding out the trio, Reuter's currently a member of Stick Men (featuring King Crimson's Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto) as well as involved with a number of other group projects.

Improvised the material might be, but it's not wholly bereft of structure or melody. The opener “Zinc,” for example, sees Sirkis laying down a tight funk-rock groove for Wingfield to wail over and Reuter to spread slabs of grime-encrusted fuzz across. The former's propensity for bending and liquefying notes and transitioning fluidly between them makes his an immediately recognizable voice and one of the album's primary draws. He's all over this tumultuous set, and consequently fans of high-decibel progressive guitar playing would do themselves a disservice in not checking it out. Shadowing the guitarist closely, Sirkis is with him every step of the way, while Reuter complements the others by adopting a pronouncedly textural role.

Though “Magnetic” sees Sirkis accompanying Reuter's touch guitar roar with a rapid jazz-inflected pulse, the trio, mindful of the value of dynamic and tempo contrasts, ensures that a few less high-intensity pieces appear. The comparatively quieter “Ghost Light” allows Reuter's contributions to the trio's sound to be better appreciated, especially when the fourteen-minute track's free-flowing design allows room for his atmospheric contributions to blossom, while “A Hand in the Dark,” though no one will mistake it for a ballad, also embraces a sprawling, metre-less presentation. Such pieces notwithstanding, loud Lighthouse largely is, so brace yourself for the oncoming storm when you press ‘Play.'

November 2017