Stephan Micus

The Music of Stones

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Continuing his musical quest across countries and cultures, Stephan Micus visits the Cathedral of Ulm, where Elmar Daucher has been sculpting and carving rocks of granite, marble, and basalt specifically for their acoustic potential. Such a curiosity, where Micus is involved, usually results in an album. The Music of Stones is indeed a curious and deep meditation -- a spotlight on the instruments as much as the music. It follows a formula similar to his album Twilight Fields, where tuned clay pots were the centerpiece. "Part 1" ebbs to life with a duet between one of these mythical stones that lays a rich harmonic drone for Micus to solo over with his staple instrument, the shakuhachi. "Part 2" shows off more percussive qualities by having two players with mallets on a single stone, though the novelty of it wears thin and becomes the one passage that breaks the spell. A tin whistle flutters around three stone chimes for "Part 3," and the harmonics attained in this and in "Part 4" sound like a Gamelan of gongs, bowls, kalimbas, mbiras...anything but the Swedish black granite actually responsible. There were no overdubs on the album, so the occasional church bells are heard far off in the background to provide an additional element of unscripted ambience. "Part 6" is enchanting in this regard, along with being the only track to feature vocals (from fellow "rocker" Gunther Federer). It makes a fitting lullaby of prayer to close out the album. Like most Stephan Micus albums, this is not world music, but certainly music from some foreign place within this world. You still can't get blood from a stone, but Daucher and Micus can certainly get life out of one.

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