Michael J. Schumacher

Fidicin Drones

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Solo electric guitar recording from this acclaimed new minimalist from New York. Having worked with Charles Curtis, La Monte Young, Phill Niblock, and Donald Miller, Schumacher is part of a wave of composers working with extended drones. These pieces recorded in Berlin document a pioneering use of the E-Bow, a magnetic generator with which the electric guitar's strings are excited and drone with continuous sustain. This little tool has been a favorite of guitarists Fred Frith, Keith Rowe, and others for many years. The influence of La Monte Young is evident in the deploying of micro-tonal note clusters, that in these hypnotic drones create spatial beating effects like those explored extensively by Young and Terry Riley. Schumacher studied classical composition and performance at the Juliard School, and together with Charles Curtis performed during the '80s and '90s in N.Y. alongside the likes of Borbetomagus. An international drone phenomenon soon took over, and the revived interest in '60s minimalism at the beginning of the new millennium sparked much critical interest in the Eastern-inspired string drones and tunings. Schumacher's electric guitar at times recalls the beating effects of an airplane taking off, and you find that sensation exiting, a better headphone accompaniment unthinkable, while at the same time the tones can be rather tranquil and soothing, like his Morton Feldman-influenced solo CD Room Piece. Not to be confused with ambient music however, this work comes with the critical rigor of 20th century classical music and is challenging and intricate despite the simple means of solo electric guitar. The instrument is transformed to such a degree that the six-string techniques can sound at times like a symphony orchestra tuning up or a church organ drone. For those who enjoy the hypnotic effects of Charlemagne Palestine, Tony Conrad, or the free improvisations of Amm, this CD is a new addition to the encyclopedia of the avant-garde.

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