Marcus Schmickler: “New Methodical Limits of Ascension”
From the album Palace of Marvels (2010)
One of the most talented and creative figures on the computer music scene today is the German composer Marcus Schmickler. His early solo albums, recorded under noms de plume Wabi Sabi (1996) and Sator Rotas (1999), feature delicately spun harmonic drones and textural morphings at times reminiscent of the music of François Bayle. Schmickler’s more recent works, such as Altars of Science (2007) and Palace of Marvels (2010), both released on the esteemed label Editions Mego, move in a different direction, probing extreme states of auditory perception and pushing the envelope of contemporary electronic production.
Apart from his computer music, Schmickler has composed pieces for classical ensembles, such as Demos (2006), for choir, chamber quintet, and electronics, and Rule of Inference (2011), for percussion quartet. He also heads the spacey post-rock outfit Pluramon. Much of Schmickler’s work explores the interface between art and science, or aesthetics and epistemology, as for example his 2009 project The Bonn Patternization, a 10-channel composition based on the sonification of astronomical data.
Palace of Marvels is an ear-bending trip into the phenomenon of the Shepard tone, an auditory illusion which creates the sensation of a never-ending ascent or descent in pitch. (Roger Shepard, the discoverer of this phenomenon, is name-checked in the track “Shep’s Infinity,” as is French composer and acoustician Jean-Claude Risset in “Risset Brain Hammer.”) On this relatively simple foundation, Schmickler constructs a dizzying array of sonic variations—different perspectives on a common perceptual object—each one leading the listener farther down the rabbit hole. This is devilishly difficult music, but there is a sirenic allure in Schmickler’s work that compels you to keep listening even as your scrambled brain begs for silence.
If you dig Schmickler’s music, you should also check out the excellent annotated playlist he recently curated for RadioWeb MACBA entitled “Ontology of Vibration: Economics, Music, and Number.”
Played 161 time(s).
January 10, 2013, 8:31pm