Marcus Schmickler | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Marcus Schmickler

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In the electronic music world Marcus Schmickler is a real Renaissance man. Under the name Pluramon, the Cologne resident has developed a thoroughly modern take on Krautrock, stretching a colorful blend of treated electric guitar and digital noise over hugely propulsive drumming--provided in part by former Can percussionist Jaki Liebezeit. He's also a member of the laptop-oriented electroacoustic ensemble MIMEO, composes experimental electronic pieces of symphonic depth under the names Wabi Sabi and Sator Rotas, has gone head-to-head with the blisteringly fast German analog synth improviser Thomas Lehn, and briefly dabbled in minimalist techno. Even so, his new Param (A-Musik) comes as a surprise. The seven compositions were performed between 1996 and 2000 by some of Germany's finest jazz and new-music players--including trumpeter Axel Dorner, tubaist Melvyn Poore, cellist Michael Moser, and bassist Alexander Frangenheim--on traditional acoustic instruments. Schmickler then manipulated and edited the recordings with an ear to density, color, and dynamics. The gorgeous "Cue," for instance, is a series of long tones in which flute, French horn, saxophone, trumpet, bassoon, and vibes fall in and out of sync; Schmickler adds some complementary gurgles. For this performance he'll further manipulate the source material for one of the album's most compelling pieces, "<22 Gliders> Rule," in which a string quartet unfurls increasingly intense, dissonant, and loud fields of sound that ascend in pitch; by the end I was mentally prepared for my stereo to either blast off into space or explode. It was created using software based on a cellular automaton--a type of computer program often used to mimic biological development. Schmickler will also premiere a new electronic composition called "United Untitled." Saturday, September 7, 10 PM, 6Odum, 2116 W. Chicago; 312-666-0795 or 773-227-3617.

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