The respected German composer and multi-instrumentalist Stephan Micus made his first journey to Asia at the age of 16. He has since traveled around the world. He spent extensive periods of time studying ancient musical techniques in India and Japan and collected a number of ethnic instruments previously unknown in the West. His recordings for the ECM label are essentially solo efforts in which the illusion of an ensemble is created by the composer's extensive overdubs. Micus' intention is not to play these instruments according to tradition, but to combine modes of expression from around the world in exciting new ways. Though he sometimes creates sounds you'd swear were the result of electronic keyboards, Micus is an acoustic purist who often develops unconventional performance techniques on ethnic instruments. He released Garden of Mirrors in mid-2000, with Desert Poems and Koan both following a year later. Micus continued to stay busy, releasing Towards the Wind in 2002, Life in 2004, and On the Wing in 2006, all of which kept his multicultural and multi-instrumental style intact. Micus offered the concept recording Snow in 2008. On 2010's Bold as Light, he employed customized versions of the raj nplaim, a free-reed bamboo pipe from Laos, and the Japanese nohkan flute, also made of bamboo. As always, he not only studied the music of the instrument's native regions, but expanded the tonal reaches with his customization. For his 20th album, Micus collaborated with Greek historian and scholar Vassilis Chatzivassiliou, who selected Byzantine-era (seventh century) texts that were ancient prayers to "Holy Mary" (the Panagia of the title). The artists gave modern voice to these texts by utilizing bells from several traditions, gongs, stringed instruments, and up to 20 voices. Panagia was issued in March of 2013.
Biography by Linda Kohanov - Source: allmusic
Stephan Micus (born 19 January 1953 in Stuttgart, Germany) is a German musician. Micus made his first journey to the Orient at the age of sixteen. Fascinated by the variety of musical cultures around the world Micus has travelled in virtually every Asian and European country as well as in Africa and the Americas. Studying with local master musicians he learned to play numerous traditional instruments, many of them unknown in the Western world. However, Micus’s intention is not to play these instruments in a traditional manner, but rather to develop the fresh musical possibilities which he feels are inherent in them. In many of his compositions, which he performs himself, he combines instruments that have never before been played together. The resulting dialogues further reflect his vision of a transcultural music.
In addition to his exclusively acoustic instruments Micus also uses his voice, at times – with multitrack recording techniques – creating whole choral pieces by himself. The words he sings usually do not carry any known meaning. However, on Athos he set to music ancient Greek prayers to the Virgin Mary, on Desert Poems he performed two original poems in English and on Life he has set to music an ancient Japanese Koan.
He has studied a variety of instruments including guitar, concert-flute, sitar in Benares (India), flamenco guitar in Granada (Spain), shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and sho (Japanese mouth organ) in Kyoto (Japan), suling (Balinese flute) in Ubud (Bali), Uillean pipes in Carna (Ireland), sinding (African harp) in Gambia, dondon (talking drum) in Accra (Ghana), doussn’ gouni (African harp) in Bamako (Mali), duduki (Georgian oboe) and Georgian polyphonic choral singing in Tbilisi (Georgia), hné (Burmese oboe) in Yangon and Mandalay (Myanmar), duduk (Armenian oboe) in Yerevan (Armenia), bagana (Ethiopian lyre) in Addis Abeba, nohkan (flute of the noh theatre) in Kyoto (Japan), Bulgarian polyphonic choral singing in Plovdiv (Bulgaria), genbri (bass lute of the gnaoua) in Essaouira (Morocco) and ryuteki (flute of the gagaku orchestra) in Kyoto (Japan).
In search of musical culture and context Micus has travelled extensively, in particular in India, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Afghanistan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Thailand, Egypt, Burma, Sri Lanka, Turkey, USA, Canada, Israel, China, Gambia, Senegal, Nepal, Ladakh, Sinkiang, Venezuela, Tanzania, Argentina, Peru, Ghana, Mali, Jordan, Georgia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Yemen, Cuba, Lebanon, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Cabo Verde, Mauretania, Armenia, Karabagh, Siberia, Mongolia, Namibia. Source: last.fm
Watch and listen the videos: Behind Eleven Deserts,
Darkness and Light part 1, part 3, As I Crossed a
The Horses of Nizami, For Nobuko, Desert Poems,
All Tracks (90 videos), Eastern Princess, The Music
of Stones part 1, part 2, part 4, part 5, 6, ATHOS
1 On the Way, 2 The First Night, 3 The First Day,
4 The Second Night, 5 The Second Day, 6 The Third Night, 7 The Third Day, 8 On the Way Back, Nomad
Song, Salinas Dance, Dancing with the Morning,
Adela, Sara and As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams.