MICHAEL J. SCHUMACHER: four stills
sedcd032 | Released in 2002 | 1000 copies | $10
Sedimental’s first release for 2002, Four Stills, is from new york composer/guitarist Michael J. Schumacher. Schumacher has a strong presence on the experimental scene with his refined guitar “drone” compositions but parallel to this activity he has been working with number system applications of sampled material through electronics, a direct extension of his audio installations. Schumacher is also internationally recognized along with his wife and artist Ursula Scherrer, who designed the artwork for this release, for the outstanding Studio 5 Beekman space (now Diapason on 6th Ave.) that provides a sympathetic environment for audio artists to execute installations. The participants in this project read like a who’s who of leading-edge composers and experimental musicians.
Our reaction to material originally considered for Four Stills was nothing short of breathtaking. Where as much digitally generated material succumbs to a hermetically closed world of glitches and electronic landscape Schumacher’s work opens up this environment, despite the density of the material, into a breathing, organic spaciousness while still maintaining the intimacy inherent in the form.
”The Four Stills are expressions of the number system that I have used since 1989 in my electronic compositions. These numbers form the basis for dozens of rhythmic processes executed by the computer, from playing a midi grand piano, to deciding a range within a sample buffer to play, to determining larger structural aspects such as the alternation of sound and silence within a particular part. The fact that they are prime numbers prevents predictable patterns from emerging. The limit of six maintains structural coherence. The Four Stills were recorded direct to stereo in real time. Though the sounds used in a given piece are predetermined, their interaction with each other over time is left to chance.
These pieces are extensions of my installation pieces, which evolve over long time periods, and are also created in real time by generative algorithms. However, in contrast to the installations, which utilize distance as an important perceptual feature and employ as many as 16 independent channels of sound, allowing for meaningful variations in texture, these recordings, being limited to two channels, are more compact in their presentation of the sonic material. They therefore remind me of certain styles of painting, which present the spectator with a static field of color that is experienced in no particular order. Though the music obviously unfolds over time, the analogy seems appropriate to me, since the dense textures (sometimes as many as 27 simultaneous parts) invite a contemplation of the many layers of sound and their relation, not in time, but in space.”
Sedimental is honored to make available the rarely heard digital works of Schumacher to a wider international audience-a dynamic composer who has provided a unique aesthetic forum for some many like-minded composers as well.
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