Bernhard Guenter

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... read moreBernhard Günter is a leading example of post-Cagian composers whose materials cover the entire sonic range and expand the boundaries of musical exploration. His first album, Un Peu de Neige Salie, was cited by Wire Magazine as one of the top 100 records that shook the world and was at the forefront...

Biography

Active: 1990s-2000s
Country Of origin: Germany

Bernhard Günter is a leading example of post-Cagian composers whose materials cover the entire sonic range and expand the boundaries of musical exploration. His first album, Un Peu de Neige Salie, was cited by Wire Magazine as one of the top 100 records that shook the world and was at the forefront of the minimal, post-techno music known as microwave or lowercase. He became interested in Japanese esthetics and haiku and this interest is reflected in the economy of his compositional materials and the use of silence in his work. Although some of his earliest compositions used only computer-generated sound, he has more satisfactory results with sampled sounds because of the more complex overtone structures. His approach to sound is non-referential and contemplative, without calling attention to the original source of the sample (in this, his approach is dramatically different from other sample-based composers such as John Oswald, John Wall, or David Shea, all of whom play with the recognizability of the original sound sources). Günter's music has evolved over the last decade from the very quiet microwave clicks and pops to a more expansive, but equally quiet and tranquil, music which owes more to Morton Feldman than to anyone from the popular music world.

Born in 1957, Günter started his musical life playing drums and electric guitar in rock and jazz bands before moving to Paris in 1980 and studying at IRCAM, the sound institute and research center founded by Pierre Boulez. He returned to Germany in 1986 and started work on computer compositions. After his first two albums, originally released on the German label Selektion and now reissued on the domestic Table of the Elements, he entered a period of collaboration and remixes with several leading sound artists, including John Duncan, Ralf Wehowsky, Asmus Tietchens, Alan Lamb, and Merzbow. In 1995, he created his own label, Trente Oiseaux, to release quality electro-acoustic works that share his interest in new approaches to sound art.

In the late '90s, he developed a new concept of time for his compositions, which he calls DIM (an acronym for the French phrase Duree, Ici, Maintenant -- Duration, Here, Now) and which is based on our subjective perceptions of the present moment and how different they appear based on the activity in which we are engaged. According to neurological research, our perception of the present lasts only about three seconds; everything else is memory or anticipation. Since 1998, he has measured the duration of all of his work in these three-second units. The decade's closing years saw a resurgence in solo compositions, with three new works released on CD in 1999/2000, all of which reflect his growing interest in harmony and the influence of Feldman and Luigi Nono. ~ Caleb Deupree~ Rovi

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