Marcus Schmickler – Palace Of Marvels [Queered Pitch] (2010, eMEGO)

Posted in music by okkame on January 27, 2011



I’m a huge Marcus Schmickler sucker. And I believe that he’s a genius (don’t snort). So I was almost convinced of  my customary acclaim for his another turn. But this album found its place on the outside of Schmickler’s known vicious circle – “Marcus Schmickler’s work is the best because Marcus Schmickler is the best”, as it turned out. Above all, it’s planar and in some degree, linear, as opposed to the usual stereoscopic grandeur of his. Interesting, bizarre, and at times even jocular but it’s a far cry from lifting the listener up with significant fullness. I am not necessarily saying I am disappointed, though. I just heard a different answer to my intended query, disconcerting and antagonistic one at that but at no time does it ever blow a cathartic punch. This is a fucking conniving bitch with its wickedly evasive game. Oh, Game ! It’s time for pun and fun. Think of the sound of the final stage of Galaga or that of an extraterrestrially wacked-out Pin Ball machine. But the mastermind behind it possesses enough expertise for it to not degenerate into juvenile a Nintendo folly. Some Carlos Giffoni with a brain or  Some Black Dice with another brain could be close. The last and title track contains mystical portions the kind of which I often find and enjoy in Schmickler’s music.  Far better than a lot of ropey early electronic music since it manifests the multihued confusion of the contemporary. The below notes from the label are not much of a help, moreover ungrammatical in places.



Marcus Schmickler’s new release following his acclaimed ‘Altars of Science’ is a must have for those interested in the rising field of contemporary Computer Music. It reconfirms Schmickler’s interest in the liaison of sound, phenomenology and cognitive sciences. Schmickler therefore utilizes a new interpretation of 1960’s discovery, the Shepard-tone, discovered by Roger Shepard, which creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually rises or descends in pitch yet ultimately seems to get no higher or lower. The phenomenon first got imposed to the music world by James Tenney in his piece “For Ann Rising”. Similarly, Schmickler has a musical take on the subject by creating Arpeggios, short sequences of tones creating an akin effect.
Schmickler’s interest in the field got fired by Ernst Gombrich’s essays on “Art and Illusion” questioning the very foundations of our understanding of the history of the image and it’s representation of our world. Adequately Schmickler’s work ever since can be seen as a play within an anthropology of music. Here in terms of it’s very fundamental parameters rhythm, sound and pitch, as well as music practice wit it’s socio-economic implications.
Beyond that, the title Palace of Marvels was found at French intellectual Jacques Attali, who, in his critically acclaimed book, “Noise: The Political Economy of Music”, cites one of Leibniz’s little known but “extraordinary” texts, “Drôle de pensée touchant nouvelle sorte de représentation,” in which the philosopher describes the “Palace of Marvels.” The Palace of Marvels is Leibniz’s idealization of a perfect political organization, which is built in such a way that the master of the house is able to hear and see everything that is being said and done in the premises without himself being perceived by his subjects. Leibniz’s vision of disciplinary society not only predates Foucault’s subsequent versions of surveillance mechanism, the Panopticon, but it also conceptualizes a more effective and absolute form of power through eavesdropping, censorship, and recording, as well as surveillance through visual means. Listening in on, ordering, transmitting, and recording noise are at the heart of the modern State.
The idea for the material was originally conceived for a collaborative Installation-piece together with arts-collective Interpallazo. The technical application was realized with the kind assistance of Prof. Dr. Alberto de Campo.


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