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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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+ Espers - II
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Michael Schumacher

This work, a slab of ephemeral glitches wed to elliptical melodies, is organized much as the stories in a building: percolating dial tones and shy found sounds, lodged uniformly atop cyclical repetition of minimalist piano motifs, act as a frame to hold the purring drones and coiling metallic scrapes together. And although such micro-sound excursions are rarely shaped into a coherent whole, the architect at the helm, one Michael Schumacher, is a veteran of many past trials — including a medley of sound installations, compositions for chamber orchestra, two symphonies, and collaborations with prepared electric guitar improviser Donald Miller.

Attesting to such experience, the opening moments of "Still," the album's first piece, establish a stable foundation. Airy slices of crackling dust permeate a dusky cloud of high-frequency noise, but in scheduled segments. Each horde of pattering glitches invades in disciplined regiments, branching out like rust eroding a sheet of metal. The effect is most amusing, as each brigade approaches the once formidable generator hum with stealth, only to lay siege to its dense mass, clamorously cutting it up with its steady, controlled clicks and occasional onslaught of perturbed noise. As though giving up, the once enveloping drone drifts away into harmonic tones and, at long last, the ether of binary silence.

With the next composition, "Two, Three and Four Part Inventions," Schumacher exhibits deft compositional abilities, setting queasy percussion and wayward trumpet bleating amidst intermittient digital slashes and a buzzing saw-toothed organ that scuttles in and out with stuttered forward momentum. These squawking staccato runs foster an abstracted lyricism, which, when coupled with the moaning murmurs of a male voice, harkens back to the theater of the absurd. Indeed, though the first piece suggests acutely crafted, if predictable, exercises in glitch electronica, the second half of the album is soused in spontaneity, silence, chance displacements and concepts of modern composition that recalls Morton Feldman, Luc Ferrari or Toshimaru Nakamura.

On the aforementioned "Two, Three and Four Part Inventions," one can hear the Horns' metal, its various resonances and vibrations, the way it meets with one's breath. Schumacher then weaves depth into this fabric, plucking churning motifs from a piano, his hand acting as the waterwheel, drawing power from the river of notes. "Room Pieces New York," meanwhile, is a skirling tapestry of sharp noise shards continuously massaging the throbbing thistles of pulsing sound. A seasick clatter of reverberating percussion and ominous oscillation propel the piece onward, 'til a tidal wave of noise capsizes this ship, sending it into a gurgling wet wreck.

The density of Stories prompts repeated visits; however, its meticulous attention to detail promises a certain pleasure with each return. Schumacher is rare in his ability to merge modern compositional techniques with digital processing. Whether in the form of slow serrated drones or the broken code of tiny machines, notes drop as though from faucets plumbed to Schumacher's brain. With Stories, he crafts a structure as admirable for its design as for the aesthetic pleasure of engagement.

by Max Schaefer

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