Protecting Brazil’s Mata Atlântica Turns into a Musical Adventure

Markus Reuter is a renowned German-born musician, composer, record producer and educator, whose work as a performer and recording artist already spans over two decades. As a member of various bands, such as Stick Men and the The Crimson ProjeKct among many others, and numerous projects in a wide array of genres, such as rock, world jazz, pop songs, improvisation, even contemporary classical, this busy and versatile artist is particularly known as a specialist in touch-guitar playing.

With dedication and enthusiasm, Markus Reuter seems to have achieved a career that would have remained a “dream” for many of his peers. Together with fellow German Mathias Derer, he has now set his eyes on a much needed Brazilian nature protection venture lead by a non-profit organization called AMAP, short for Almada Mata Atlântica Project.

The Mata Atlântica, the Atlantic Forest in Brazil is a biodiversity hotspot and considered one of the most species-rich ecosystems on the planet. Estimates say that 55% of tree species and 39% of mammal species are endemic to this region. It is home to 15% of Brazilian primates, including the golden lion tamarin and jaguars.

The AMAP website states that “new species are still being discovered. It once covered many millions of hectares along the Brazilian coast. But today almost two thirds of the population live in the distribution area of this rainforest. According to estimates, this causes that only between seven and twelve percent are still intact.”

Reuter agreed to a plan by Mathias Derer, who witnessed the founding stages of AMAP in Bahia and visited the rainforest in 2017 at the invitation of German nature photographer Markus Mauthe, to come up with an album based upon the vague idea to lay down groovy patterns on field recordings of the Mata’s soundscape, over which lyrical melodies would unfold.

Together they drew up a wish-list of musicians, which included Reuter’s first-rate musician colleagues from many corners of his career and various collaborations. As Derer, who is also the executive producer says: “I would have never dared to dream of involving these musicians; but no instrumentalist failed to co-operate. On the contrary, each contribution surprised us with its richness of ideas, its playfulness and creativity.”

He talks about musician luminaries such as Gary Husband (John McLaughlin/Allan Holdsworth/Billy Cobham bands, NDR Bigband, Level 42), Brian Krock (Big Heart Machine, liddle), Raphael Preuschl (Fabulous Austrian Trio), Luca Calabrese (Wayne Horvitz European Orchestra, Isildurs Bane, Syntony, Italian Instabile Orchestra), Andi Pupato (Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin, Mich Gerber, Andreas Vollenweider, etc.), Aralee Dorough and Colin Gatwood (both Houston Symphony Orchestra). And Pat Mastelotto, the King Crimson drummer, who usually plays in sold-out concert halls, surprises with reciting a poem by Lord Byron.

Attention is guaranteed with a line-up like this. And attention is much needed for the Mata Atlântica nature protection project. Due to the rapid and vast destruction by humans in need for commodities and space and the changing climate and increasing population pressure, immediate action is crucial.

Derer raves about the beauty of the rainforest “after only a few steps into the tropical thicket, I realized that I was about to have a unique experience. The richness in which nature presented itself to me was overwhelming. Carefully, we moved through a complex web of shapes and colors: but even more surprised than my eye was my ear.

Birds, insects, monkeys, frogs and countless other living organisms played their organic symphony on the basis of rustling and dripping leaves and creaking branches in the most species-rich biotope on earth.”

And he goes on “The beauty and lushness of this nature, its wildness, but also its vulnerability have never left me since. In the present day, more than ninety per cent of the Mata Atlântica has been destroyed.

What is left of it is still considered to be one of the most threatened tropical forests in the world. For the next few years, both of these factors continued to work in me – the audiovisual experience of the Brazilian coastal rainforest and the concern for its existence.”

After this once in a lifetime experience, Derer posed the initial question “how could I contribute musically to bring more attention to this fragile habitat, while recreating its soundscape?” This is when he contacted Reuter.
Markus Reuter arranged, structured and supplemented the many layers provided by the musicians in non-studio recordings into coherent compositions. The “final result is a multi-layered sonic biotope”, states the press release.

The seven tracks of the album “Mata Atlantica – Retiro e Ritmo” are a stunningly beautiful testament to what creative minds can achieve together when they are driven by a common cause.

Reuter’s website states: “If you want a catalyst for change in your life, don’t hesitate to get in touch.” Even if this refers to an educational aspect, it gets clear that Reuter seems to be the kind of person, who supports change and positive development. Let’s hope that the dream team of him and Mathias Derer will stride to keep making a difference together.

Humanity needs driven and creative minds. Nowadays the protection of crucial eco-systems has too often been neglected or minimized to a dreamlike mirage in the midst of political power plays and the reign of economic interests.

CD, Download and streaming of Mata Atlântica – Retiro e Ritmo are available via 7D Media on all platforms. https://markusreuter7d.bandcamp.com/album/retiro-e-ritmo

Please consider getting involved with AMAP here: https://amap-brazil.org.

PERSONNEL
Markus Reuter – Synthesizers, Samples, Treatments, Soundscapes, Field Recordings
Tobias Reber – Electronic Rhythms
Raphael Preuschl – Basses
Gary Husband – Keyboards
Andi Pupato – Percussion
Brian Krock – Saxophones and Flute
Luca Calabrese – Pocket Trumpet
Aralee Dorough – Flute
Colin Gatwood – Oboes
Charlotte Pelgen – Vocals
Zoey Gley – Vocals
Graça Cunha – Vocals
Lisa Fletcher – Vocals
Deborah Carter Mastelotto – Vocals
Pat Mastelotto – Voice
Markus Mauthe – Field Recordings
Christian Wolff – Field Recordings

Arranged, orchestrated, and produced by Markus Reuter
Executive producer: Mathias Derer
Mixed by Stefano Castagna at Ritmo&Blu Studio
Mastered by Lee Fletcher

Album artwork by Bernhard Wöstheinrich
Cover photos by Markus Mauthe
Booklet photos by Lars Richter and Patrick Böttger

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