Fällt, Christopher Murphy
A heightened collaboration in which the (often) freeform world of improvisation meets the (often) precision world of the studio and post-production, 'Bart' occupies a niche all it's own and easily surpasses the sum of its parts. Would it be sacrilege to draw a parallel to the working methodologies that gave us 'Bitches Brew'?
Yet, it is precisely in the contrast between tight control and raw, unfocussed energy that Thomas Lehn and Marcus Schmickler's collaboration lies.
Packaged in the appropriately lo-tech, glitch-graphics of Cologne designer Heike Sperling lies an hour-long release of stuttering free-form glitch funk. What differentiates 'Bart' however, from the myriad of recent glitch-improvisation releases is its ruthless attention to detail. Both Schmickler and Lehn are well known within their respective circles and the results of this, their first collaboration, are stunning to say the least.
'Du Funktion' sees a return to a thick molasses of digital smears welded to an ever-present system drone that unfolds over a staggering 30 minutes which, despite its sheer length, never rests. Left/Right tones cascade in waves over bitmapped crackles as Lehn and Schmickler add layer after layer of events into a seductive audio landscape.
Closing with a gently unfolding five minute coda 'Temp Close', one can only hope it represents just that: a temporary close.
All Music Guide, François Couture
Analog synthesizer wizard Thomas Lehn meets studio producer/digital synth improviser Marcus Schmickler. Both played together within MIMEO, a 12-piece electronic orchestra, but this was their first recording session as a duo. The two musicians first improvised freely, than the material wastransformed in postproduction. The resulting music, full of chirps, beeps and tweeps, is a strange mixture of free improvisation (see Lehn's CD Tom & Gerry with drummer Gerry Hemingway or his trio Konk Pack with Tim Hodgkinson and Roger Turner) and electroacoustics. Actually, it sounds like a piece of musique concrete that would have lost its chart -- electroacoustics without the "cinema for the ear", the plan (except maybe for the half-hour long "De Funktion" which feels more organized). Quite exciting and destabilizing, Bart will surprise even the most hardcore Lehn fan: intertwined with Schmickler's, his art never sounded this rich. On the other hand, it lacks part of its organic quality (usually reflected or enhanced by the presence of more acoustic instruments). If anything, Bart takes electronic improvisation one step further.
Incursion Music Review, Richard di Santo
At first this seems like an unlikely collaboration. Thomas Lehn, an improviser immersed in the "Cologne movement" of improvisational electronics, never seemed to me to be quite in the same musical realm as fellow Cologne resident Marcus Schmickler, probably best known for his work as Pluramon (progressive-postrock-krautrock released on Mille Plateaux). The two had met while working in the improvisational ensemble MIMEO. For their collaborations, Schmickler sheds his Pluramon-Wabi Sabi-Kontakta hats, trading them in for something a little more like-minded with Lehn's improvisational methods. Clusters of clicks, pops and whirrs flutter in and out of these tracks at amazing frequency. There's a lot of energy to these recordings, a lot of movement and detail. And yet still the sounds are not all that diverse; the five tracks that comprise this CD never quite leave the microcosm of analogue versus digital clicks, noise and sound fragments (Thomas Lehn uses an analogue synth while Schmickler uses a digital synth with computer). Which came first, I wonder? Are they mixing each other's output, or are they creating independently? The arrangements range in tone from softer clusters of sound to more harsh and abrasive movements.This music is really quite dense and difficult, heavy on detailing and spontaneity, which means that listening to these tracks takes some effort to get through (for me, at least). Nonetheless a very fine CD of improvised electronics.