Paul Galioni | Susanville/Nevada City, California | 03/03/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There IS something that seems strange about someone playing stone sculptures in a German Cathedral - it seems like it should be avant-guard noise. But it is profoundly calming. The stones are stroked and resonate reverberations or are struck and produce muted tones. It took me a moment to realize that the humming on the first track was stone and not some synthesizer. While a sophomoric observation, the liner notes show slow time photos of the stones being played, and, not surprisingly, they are in sharp time focus with the player slow time blurred, suggesting, of course, the permanence of stone and the fleeting temporal qualities of our lives. The stones are accompanied by other instruments that people familiar with Micus know; the reeds and flutes that float the soul."
'Music too, keeps building anew...
Larry L. Looney | Austin, Texas USA | 08/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"...with the insecurest stones her celestial house in unusable space.' That quotation from Rainer Maria Rilke, which leads off the notes in the booklet accompanying this CD, is about as apt as it could be regarding the wonderful work that Stephan Micus has generated over the course of his career. Celestial and at the same time inseparable from every single aspect and attribute of this earth on which we stand, live and breathe, Micus's music dares to attempt to embrace and unite it all. I have every recording he's ever made (how I wish his first LP would be made available on CD!) -- and I have no hesitation in giving every single one of them a 'five'. That might perhaps seem excessive to some -- but those who have been touched deeply by his music will understand.
A reviewer on another website states that THE MUSIC OF STONES 'doesn't work', that it doesn't hold a candle to his other releases -- I repsectfully disagree. As one of the other reviewers here so astutely pointed out, the subtleties, the variety of sounds produced using the stone instruments featured in this recording is astonishing. Someone unfamiliar with Micus might indeed think synthesizers were at play from time to time, but he has never used any electronics in any of his recordings -- everything is completely acoustic.
A world traveller from an early age (I think I read that he first travelled to the Orient at 16), Stephan Micus has thankfully kept his mind, heart and soul open to the spirits and musics of other cultures. And, again, thankfully, he has passed along what he has absorbed, the sounds that have resonated within him, to his listeners, that they might be touched by it as well.
This recording stands out from the rest of his catalogue in a couple of notable ways. First of all, it's the only release on which anyone besides Micus performs. Secondly, there are no overdubs -- which he usually employs seamlessly, with great skill. The music here was recorded as performed by Stephan, his wife Nobuko, the sculptor Elmar Daucher (who created the unique instruments employed here) and Gunther Federer. Aside from the resonating stone sculptures, Micus himself adds some instruments more familiar to his listeners: shakuhachi, tin whistle, stone chimes (also made by Daucher), as well as his unique and beautiful 'not in any known language' vocals.
The overall effect is breathtakingly beautiful. Recorded in the historic Ulm Cathedral, which has a natural echo of 8 seconds, the acoustics of the space itself lend their indelible touch to the performance. Surprisingly (at least to some listeners) the sounds here are not discordant and cold, but rather melodic and full of life -- the life that courses through us as well as the earth and its components. It's a great audio illustration of the interconnectedness of the universe.
I have my favorites among Stephan Micus's catalogue -- TO THE EVENING CHILD, DESERT POEMS, IMPLOSIONS, OCEAN, KOAN, BEHIND ELEVEN DESERTS, TILL THE END OF TIME, TWILIGHT FIELDS, EAST OF THE NIGHT, GARDEN OF MIRRORS, WINGS OVER WATER, LISTEN TO THE RAIN, TOWARDS THE WIND, DARKNESS AND LIGHT, ATHOS, ARCHAIC CONCERTS (the hard-to-find first LP)...and of course THE MUSIC OF STONES. Hey, what do you know? That's everything he's done.
Seriously -- each recording has its own personality and mood, but they're all supremely beautiful and moving. I really don't think you could go wrong with any of them, if you can appreciate what he's doing even a bit. His music holds a special place in my collection -- and in my heart and soul. Every time I see that he's issued a new recording, it's cause for celebration. I can't recommend his music highly enough."
More first-rate Micus
C. H Smith | Bowling Green, Kentucky United States | 08/31/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I just rated this Micus album a '4,' not because I disagree with the other reviewer, but because I feel funny giving all of Micus's albums '5s'. This one is actually probably Micus's best known "early" album, both for the reasons the other reviewer states and because the instrumentation here is so unusual (even considering that Micus is one of most explorative artists alive with respect to the instruments he chooses to perform on). This is a *real* good album to listen to lieing down on a waterbed, with headphones on. It was recorded during the wee hours in a European cathedral, and the effect is hauntingly mesmerizing. Other best Micus albums: "Darkness and Light," "Ocean," and "To the Evening Child.""