Marcus Schmickler

Palace of Marvels (Queered Pitch)

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German electronic composer Marcus Schmickler, probably best known for his role as one-half of electronica/post-rock duo Pluramon, has released several albums of squelching, skittering, chirping music under his own name, and Palace of Marvels is his second for the Editions Mego label. In some ways it's an odd throwback to the '90s or the early 2000s; its abstract compositions with their elliptical titles ("Risset Brain Hammer," "Sheps Infinity") recall the work of Autechre, Plug, and other Warp Records signees. And while the swirls of static which fuzz the margins of the sonic field behind the simple, hypnotic keyboard melodies on tracks like the aforementioned "Risset Brain Hammer" or "Discordance Axis" -- which based purely on its 8-bit video-game-ish sound is probably not a tribute to the defunct grindcore band of the same name -- are interesting, there's too little here in the sense of traditional hooks for a casual listener to maintain his or her interest. Only someone deeply obsessed with the incremental shifts in digital sound processing technology will ever be able to really love this record. Its beauty is too cold, its overall level of abstraction too high, for mainstream ears.

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