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Marcus Schmickler

Altars of Science

(Editions Mego; US: 23 Oct 2007; UK: 12 Nov 2007)

There’s something inherently aggressive about experimental drone. Forgoing any of the familiar trappings of rhythm and melody courted by contemporary sound-sculptors like Fennesz, composer Marcus Schmickler chooses to work completely in abrasive texture, daring the listener to turn up the stereo and pay attention. The work isn’t exactly atonal, but Schmickler’s contrasting sheets of blaring, algorithmically synthesized noise slip through microtonal harmonies and dissonances without ever seeming to even brush past a traditional chord or melodic phrase. The results resemble an electronic reworking of Penderecki’s screeching orchestrations, complete with apocalyptic evocations of radiation sickness and swarming insects. At best (parts 5 and 7, for instance), the results are cinematic and disconcerting, at worst, monotonously uncomfortable.

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