Stephan Micus’ folk soundworld investigations have taken him all over the globe. He is a disciplined student of every musical instrument he encounters, and understands how to get what he needs out of them without comprising either the instrument’s original purpose or history, or his own vision, and he lets the instruments (sometimes in strange combinations) speak for themselves from his inner well of inspiration and nearly egoless expression. For those interested in poetry, Micus does in his world of music what poet and translator Jerome Rothenberg (who has compiled countless important anthologies of poetic traditions from all over the modern and ancient world) does for the written and oral tradition in poetry: represents it for what it is and allows the reader/listener to experience it for themselves. The stark beauty of On the Wing is expressed by Micus using Middle Eastern and Asian instruments, from the Iraqi mudbedsh (a single reed instrument made from cane) to the long-necked and bowed Turkish sattar and the Egyptian nay. In addition, he uses the reed flute of the Balinese gamelan orchestras called the suling, the Japanese harmonica known as the sho, the double-reeded hné from Burma, the shakuhachi, sitar, the hang from the Caribbean (a new percussion instrument) and his own 14-string guitar that is able, in its various stringing formations, to create the tonalities of a sitar or other overtone instrument. The beautiful thing about On the Wing is the way Micus combines instruments, or uses them solo: his investigations never come off as academic. They are full of quiet soul and deep mysterious power. His pieces are in their own ways, songs more than improvisations, capable of being remembered after hearing them only once. His traditional excellence is everywhere here, but his lyrical sense is perhaps more defined and important than ever. – Thom Jurekmore »
On the Wing
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