Stephan Micus
Desert Poems
ECM (www.ecmrecords.com)

cd cover One of a kind spiritual troubador Micus enters his 17th recording with Desert Poems, and continues to build an inimitably austere ritual music with increasingly diverse elements. The German traveler has combed the globe for 25 years finding then mastering (sometimes customizing) in his own idiosyncratic way the instruments of it's musical traditions. In addition to his voice, the list of tools employed grows to eleven: sarangi, dondon, dilruba, doussn'gouni, kalimba, sinding, steel drums, shakuhachi, nay, sattar and flowerpots; in short, strings, percussion and flutes. Micus organizes the many sounds with the two most important tools of all, silence and the multi-track studio. Sometimes recording a single instrument up to 22 times, Micus creates a composite performance where he is the choir or orchestra. Plenty of artists are able to do this in our time, but Micus is set apart by his now extensive resume in the area, and, the soulful, affecting, often wordless, end result. In every Micus album a contemplative space is created with recognizable but plangent timbres, unique voicings, and a slow, deliberate, hauntingly familiar air that feels something like religious observance. While he typically sculpts time with layers of overdub, he reserves opportunities to deliver the calm with just one voice or instrument; a shakuhachi on "First Snow", a solo vocal in "Contessa Entellina" and the doussn'gouni on "Night". Micus' refuge is one desperately needed in the industrial countries starved for rituals but struggling to commit to one spiritual path in a world of alternately too many or not enough gods. The strategy seems to be: make your own, the only way to the truth is through the personal. Splendidly special and inspiring toward that end, one cannot imagine a world without a Stephan Micus in it today. A mani-colored memoir of the desert' s fabled power, and gorgeous merciful company on the stereo. - Steve Taylor

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