Eleh * Marcus Schmickler

ELEH – LIVING SPACE  Also on Spotify

Eleh‘s discography boasts no less than 32 albums since 2006 – solo works as well as collaborations with artists like Pauline Oliveros, Ellen Fullman, Christina Kubisch, Caterina Barbieri and Richard Chartier. And until now he managed to remain completely anonymous: no one (well almost no one) knows who he is.

Living Space is the third Eleh release for the Touch label. It’s a perfect title: the sound of these tracks seems to come from everywhere but the speakers. It moves inside your head and moves around in the room it is played in, thus making the space come alive.
It is released on CD, which is the format ‘how the artist wants it to sound’, but nevertheless Touch promises a vinyl edition”for fetishists” to follow in the new year. Let’s hope ‘the artist’ is OK with that, because I’m afraid the extreme low frequencies in this music probably won’t behave very well on vinyl. This music is, indeed, created for optimal reproduction via digital media.

Apart from one shorter track, all tracks are from 10 to 15 minutes in length. Eleh uses modular and analogue synthesizers, piano, organ, bass, and symphonic chimes to create his compositions.
Music that “seeks to express the beauty of slow change, not only through the microtonal shifts in sound that Eleh navigates but moving with the atmospheric and shape-shifting conditions that the music creates as it interacts with the listening space, whether bedroom or concert hall, each one of them unique.”

I would call this ‘minimalist drone music’, but that ‘minimalist’ only refers to the musical aspect, not the sound itself. With all those different frequencies bouncing around before they reach you, we might as well call it ‘maximalist’. Trying to describe music can be só confusing…

The CD-release comes in a 6-panel digifile with beautiful photography by Jon Wozencroft.



It is my intention to write only short ‘recommendations’ here, not extensive analysis. But that is somewhat of a challenge for this Marcus Schmickler album on Kompakt. Schmickler wrote an extensive thesis on the Particle/Matter – Wave/Energy album: about the open-source algorithm he participated in ‘used to model gravity as a tool for sonification’, and the ‘difficulties of dealing with large systems such as a model of the collision of galaxies’ in the auditory domain.

“How does it sound when (galaxy-) clusters of 30 objects reciprocally influence each other by means of a simulation of gravitation?”

The 37-minute track (divided into two parts for the vinyl version) gains extra depth from the scientific approach. Interesting enough for those that want to try to understand the complex concepts underneath, but in the end “all our intuitive perception is an immediate depiction of reality generated by our brain and its experience of the world, formed during a process of evolution. We mostly see just what we expect to see …”

But in the end, you don’t need to have studied physics, astronomy, sonification or any other complex process involved to enjoy the sounds of this work. It is an incredibly immersive piece of electronic “explorative, uncompromising music that is sensually attractive at the same time”.
Play it at a sufficiently loud level and it will transport you to the outer realms of space and/or the limits of your imagination.


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