Larry L. Looney | Austin, Texas USA | 04/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On this recording, from 1985, multi-instrumentalist Stephan Micus takes his listeners on a journey guided mainly by his incredible playing on a guitar that he disgned, custom-built by master luthier Manuel Diaz of Granada, Spain. It is a unique instrument that allows the player to customize the string array to suit his mood and the piece to be performed. On this outing, Micus fits it with 10 single-course strings for the first half of the album, the title track 'East of the night'. He accompanies his guitar on this piece with two groups of shakuhaci (the Japanese bamboo flute used by Zen monks in meditation), a pair and a group of four. The effect is simply beautiful -- the guitar is used as a base for the gentle, soaring melodies carried by the shakuhachi, making the piece a transporting tribute to the dawn (as another reviewer astutely related the title).The second piece, 'For Nobuko' (Stephan's wife), is a solo work for the guitar, this time utilizing fourteen strings -- 6 double-courses and two individual bass strings. He takes the piece -- and the listener -- through several meditative sections, expertly laying both a rhythmical and melodic foundation on which he builds the main voice of the piece. The unique guitar design allows his artistic vision to flow into his execution with a freedom that six strings would not allow. Listening to this piece, it's sometimes hard to imagine that he's playing it alone -- but he never resorts to pyrotechnics, allowing the deceptively simple beauty of the music to present itself uncluttered.Micus may employ fewer instruments on this album than on his other recordings, but the effect is equally stunning. It's a shame most outlets file his music away in the 'new age' bin -- it's an injustice that, unfortunately, might keep many potential listeners from discovering his work."
Sublime, as usual
C. H Smith | Bowling Green, Kentucky United States | 06/25/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I would have to guess that "East of the Night" is Micus's ode to dawn, both in the literal and contemplative senses of the word. First, there's the title: What comes, after all, 'east of the night'?--well, sunrise, of course (think about it for a moment...). Then there's the music itself. The two twenty minute plus works that make up the album are primarily guitar pieces, but they are played on 10- and 14-string guitars, respectively, and after an initial eruption (just like sunrise) drift dreamily along with lots of notes played in the lowest register (a reflection of hypnogogic imagery?). The second piece is a solo work, but in the first the guitar is accompanied by a flute that provides just the perfect airy, and sometimes dancing, meditative complement. I'm not sure this is one of Micus's best efforts overall, but if you like any of his others you will surely like this one too. Score this one a '4 plus.'"