STEPHAN MICUS PROFILED (2013): Music of the spheres and beyond

 |   |  1 min read

STEPHAN MICUS PROFILED (2013): Music of the spheres and beyond

Take a deep breath because here’s a partial list of the instruments German multi-tasker Stephan Micus has played on recent albums: Bavarian zither, tin whistle, sattar, steel guitar, Japanese flute (shakuhachi), tuned flowerpots, Egyptian flute (nay), steel drums, Indian sarangi, dulcimer -- and lots I can’t even pretend to know about like bolombatto, sinding, dilruba, doussn’ gouni, duduk, maung . . .

He also sings.

Micus is one of the most musically peripatetic artists of our time -- yet his albums on the ECM label aren’t as esoteric as they might seem. Sometimes he even veers dangerously close to New Age music, but he’s far too spiritually and culturally conscious to end up with brown-rice munchers. Although I suspect he’s of the tofu persuasion himself.

But he does make alluring music which is gently seductive. Even when he’s tickling tuned flowerpots or banging his maung (Burmese gong, I have learned).

His 2008 album Snow might have come with a title which suggested gentle wafts and drifts, but he has an astringent quality which meant it will never darken the door of a massage parlour or be invited around for a vegan hotpot.

Through overdubs he created his own choir for the quasi-Buddhist chants, layered instruments from different continents to effortless effect, and conjured up a restful yet probing emotional space where your pulses never race but your brain remains engaged.

Now about twentysomething albums into his career, Micus long ago staked out unique territory. And a very appealing place it is too, as evidenced on Snow which might be considered a useful entry-level.

But his earlier albums (notably Koan from '77 and Wings Over Water of '81 where he played tuned flower pots) are also well worth discovering.

Micus' musical path has also been a spirtual one so it is no surprise many speak of mystical references or experiences when writing about him.

Be that as it may, his music exists on a plane of its own making and its quasi-choral, world music and, yes, hints of New Age/ambient, certainly make him a musician in a sphere -- or spheres -- of his own.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

TOMASZ STANKO INTERVIEWED (2009): A blow for freedom

TOMASZ STANKO INTERVIEWED (2009): A blow for freedom

To hear trumpeter Tomasz StaƄko tell it, life in Poland in the 1960s might not have been quite as grim and mono-chromatic as we believe. -Certainly there was the irony of playing free jazz in... > Read more

HUGH MASEKELA INTERVIEWED (2013): Out of Africa

HUGH MASEKELA INTERVIEWED (2013): Out of Africa

With a husky chuckle Hugh Masekela recalls himself as a curious child, some 70 years ago, who would wake, wind up the gramophone and sing along with every song. “I was obsessed by... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Augustus Pablo: This is Augustus Pablo (Southbound)

Augustus Pablo: This is Augustus Pablo (Southbound)

In the mid-Seventies the hypnotic sound of Augustus Pablo pulled 95bFM listeners close to their radio, because host Duncan Campbell used a Pablo piece (the leisurely Up Wareika Hill) as the... > Read more

MOPHEAD by SELINA TUSITALA MARSH

MOPHEAD by SELINA TUSITALA MARSH

Auckland academic, former New Zealand Poet Laureate, award-magnet Selina Tusitala March – the first person of Pacific Island descent to get a PhD in English at the University of Auckland... > Read more