I have always enjoyed improvisational pieces, born from the emotion and connection among stellar musicians. Often I find these are instant game changers, so profoundly innovative and compelling in their conception, making them immediately essential. "The Stone House Sessions" precisely fits this bill having been recorded live in the studio with no overdubs and completely improvised, with no music written down or rehearsed
While I hear similarities to the likes of Robert Fripp, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny, David Torn, and Adrian Belew among others, by no means is this work derivative nor bears any strong influences. Instead two extremely original, brilliant and clearly innovative electric guitarists, Mark Wingfield and Markus Reuter, have created a quartet and laid down six tracks that exit from the boundaries of fusion-jazz, possibly entering post-rock. The Stone House easily see them stretching the textural and tonal qualities of their instruments, which can be vividly heard across the high resolution 24bit / 88.2kHz version of this release.
The opening track “Rush” takes the listener on a twelve-minute dynamic journey, crossing from groove and melodic to roaring passages which drive deeply into pure extemporaneous collaboration. The hi-res stereo download reveals a massively wide soundstage with delays extending the field of the guitars from left to right and vice versa. Each note hangs on the brilliance of the timbre that both Wingfield and Reuter expressed during the session, and now are so perfectly emanating in my listening room.
A fantastic picture is painted as the second track “Four Moons” unfolds, with drummer Asaf Sirkis striking up the rhythm at the open. The snare is snappy, with a pleasant bong and sizzle, while the cymbals tingle with such realism that one could feel his presence right in front of them. The toms and kick are solid and full, providing minimal space around them, as they are gently hit throughout this piece.
I absolutely hear the third track “Silver” shine as the quartet elevates the Stone House to new heights. It is the foundational bass work of Yaron Stavi that grounds this piece while he moves across the octaves on his bass. The hi-res recording exudes a rich low end without digging into the mud, keeping the balance of the bass full without stepping on anyone else. While guitars fall deep into the soundstage, the bass solidly remains up front in the center, lending punch without actually being punchy.
The Stone House harnesses many elements common to progressive music, spattering a grand experiment on a aural canvas ending with a resulting picture that is liberating and utterly unique. Undoubtedly there is no desire for these songs to follow any convention or formula, and I welcome this rare candidness and intimacy with each moment that is captured here. Forget that I pigeon holed this work under the fusion and post-rock genres, as it is so fresh, extemporaneous, and uniquely original that it truly defies categorization.
Be prepared to be blown away, the three remaining tracks extend the demand for high resolution audio by employing excellent detail and dynamics. The subtle nuances of the snare drum alone on the fifth track “Tarasque” are a wonderful example why one must listen to lossless 24bit audio. The Stone House sessions has become an instant favorite and certainly one of the most adventurous releases that I know of to date. The transparent recording is astonishing and a pure delight to my ears.
I can’t even begin to describe how enthralled I am to have a copy of this stratospheric release by Wingfield, Reuter, Stavi, and Sirkis. For high-resolution audio enthusiasts the FLAC / WAVE / ALAC download of The Stone House comes complimentary with the purchase of the CD version through BandCamp. This is a perfect addition to any fusion-jazz collection, fans of progressive guitar solos, post-rock, and enthusiasts of improvisational music.
Also available from Mark Wingfield:
Proof of Light
Ten Shades of Light
Also available from Markus Reuter:
Full of Music
Also available from Asaf Sirkis: