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Performer Notes
  • Stephan Micus is a composer who lives on the island of Mallorca, and is a compulsive collector of oddball musical instruments. An acoustic music purist, Micus generates unusual, almost electronic sounding textures from his collection of instruments through multi-tracking, but does not utilize anything electronic to generate the sounds. On Life, Micus plays such instruments as the bagana, tin whistle, various kinds of gongs, sho, zithers and Thai singing bowls, and uses recording techniques to build the multifarious parts played into a contiguous whole. The result is a very colorful blend of peculiar tones, gestures and voicings. Although Micus seems to release a new ECM album almost every other month, Life is the result of three years careful planning and labor, and Micus claims that the process of overdubbing is far more complex on this album than any other that he has done. Life is based on a Zen Koan, a short text which is like a cross between a lesson and a prayer. Micus sings the text in long Japanese phrases, occasionally shouting, humming or making other non-verbal vocal sounds to match with the music. As the piece unfolded this reviewer could have gone either way with Life; at times it seemed a little over the top dramatically, and at others a little too sweet and pretty. Once it is over, however, one feels rewarded, as the total effect of Life sticks together in an almost cinematic way that tells a clear story. Whether or not one finds the rarefied world of Stephan Micus appealing, Life is real music and an achievement to be proud of. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis
Professional Reviews
The Wire (p.66) - "Soothing, mystical, eclectic..."
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