Latest Music Reviews

MARCUS MAEDER – CREPUSCULE (cassette by Domizil)

To see Marcus Maeder release music on a cassette is quite a surprise. Much of what he does in the realm of computer-based processing deals with the tiniest details of sound and as such the CD, I would think, is the best medium for his music. But maybe there has been a shift in his music that makes is suited for cassette? (…) ‘Behold’, said she, ‘I am that which must ever surpass itself”, quoted from Nietzche’s ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ is the title of the first piece, followed by ‘movement two’ to ‘movement 13’. As said, Maeder is a man for computer-based musique concrète, normally speaking, but here tries something different. You could call this ambient music, I guess, with long sustaining sounds, no doubt created from some sort of computer process. It seems as if once Maeder gets a piece on the road, it unfolds by itself. On the first side, we find mostly shorter pieces and on the other four longer ones. Even when not playing at the twilight times of the day, but just mid-afternoon, and no cloud in sight, I enjoyed this release quite a bit, perhaps because I am a sucker for all things dark ambient. This reminded me of some current work by Florian Wittenberg or some of the earliest works by Thomas Köner. Shimmering textures, endless delays, a fair bit of reverb, and we cross from day to night, and from night to day again. I have no idea what went into the computer, or if it even was a computer or modular electronics, the result was great. As I was fully emerged by some other task that required very little thought, I had this on repeat for quite a while, which at ninety minutes playing time, took up all of my afternoon and still I was taken by the music. Excellent cassette! (FdW)

Twenty years domizil – 4 CD Edition, August 2017

Twenty years is not that long for a non-mainstream label such as Domizil, especially when no-one complains about the changing times. This is particularly the case when being forerunners and not followers, even if experimenting is not that popular in as difficult an age as the one we are living in. As a matter of fact, in the middle of the Nineties, a lot of musical trends had already developed while others were just starting to peek out, and digital electronic was about to fully develop widely and easily. It is then a valuable choice for this anniversary that the label founded by Marcus Maeder has avoided creating a celebrative anthology. It has preferred to do four individual issues among its most representative and active collaborators. Marcus Maeder’s own issue is the first one to be listened to in the CD player of the newsroom. From the very first sidereal notes it seems clear that the project is fascinating, floating, spaceful and extremely rich in vibrations and astronomic suggestions. In our opinion, Non.Human is pure science fiction, the last Utopic home-delivery developed from a home PC from literally one’s own domicilio. This already knowing that in a vacuum no sound can propagate and be caught by human ears. Also for Thomas Peter – Thornbill is the title of his work – inspiration comes from a rarefied and vibrational universe, with strong and improvised percussive features balancing the enigmatic and dull frequencies mixed to liquid field recordings and essential assonances. As for Bernd Schurer, the climax of Blind Material is immediately more eccentric and striking, packed with electronic hits and weird contractions which seem to be forerunners of the age of home-made computer-based music and are reminders of psychoacoustic seminal and the auditory experiments with synodal waves and analogic winces. Celebrations close up with Martin Neukom, whose sound flutters in “Studien 21.2-21.15” thanks to eight oscillators by Van De Pol (well-known tools in radio production) almost to remind us how labels are not only doomed to aesthetic, artistic and visive approach but also to a scientific one. Aurelio Cianciotta/

Marcus Maeder: Progeny
Domizil CD

This album is the result of label boss Maeder’s several years spent working with data surrounding biological systems and transforming that data into sound. Sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly which biological processes and equations each track is referring to without the sleevenotes to hand, but the themes of growth and replacement are clear. “Existence” coaxes whistling swoops out of a backrground hum that becomes stronger and more curious, like baby birds tweeting their strenght before being pushed from the nest. “The Observer” positions rattling, tapping sounds that grow increasingly insistent against a chorus of shrill noises, like insect communication scaled large. The title track “Progeny” brings some sense of loss to the proceedings, with its rising howls overwhelming a plodding two note phrase that goes back and forth over octave. It’s like something out of Beckett. (The Wire Magazine, August 2015)

MARCUS MAEDER topographie sinusoïdale (domizil 38): Musik klingt sanft, hart, süß, gelb, traurig, hoch und tief. Und es sind das doch alles bloß Metaphern für kurze oder lange Wellen, schnelle oder langsame Oszillationen. In Maeders Fall von Sinuswellen, mit deren Morphen er, sowohl im physikalischen wie im metaphorischen Sinn, die spatiale Dimension von Klang auskostet. Durch dröhnminimalistische Klangmodulationen entsteht ein Soundscaping der allerfeinsten Sorte. Der Klang besteht quasi buchstäblich nur aus den fein schwingenden Sinusfäden, die, Weiß auf Grau, das Booklet durchwellen. So feinstofflich klingt das, dass der ohrenärztliche Aspekt schnell einer zauberhafteren Metaphorik weichen muss. Einem Angerührtwerden der Sinne durch Etwas, für das in Generationen, die noch nicht vom Virtuellen desillusioniert waren, Engelsflügel oder Heiligenscheine imaginiert wurden. Oder ein göttlicher Atem, der noch lange genug ausreichte, Nagellack zu trocknen. In den spiritistischen und paranormal empfänglichen Dekaden hätte man da wenigstens eine unschuldige Seele singen hören. Freilich, wer sagt denn, dass unsere entgeisterten Milieus sich mitsamt der Geistesgegenwart auch noch der Poesie entschlagen müssen? Taucht im ephemeren Schimmern der sinusoïdalen Schwingungen nicht doch noch etwas anderes auf als ein Traumjob als Heuschrecke, Krokodil oder Ameise bei der Credit Suisse, bei E.ON oder Foxconn? (Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy)

Earlier today I was not at home, but in a friends house waiting for something. The weather was hot, and I lay down on his couch. In my bag was ‘Annex’ by Marcus Maeder, and I decided to play it. Around the house there was a lot of activity of people constructing a new house on one side (or perhaps putting an annex to it?) and on the other side motorized objects doing gardening work. Maeder’s music wasn’t very loud on, but it merged wonderful with the sounds coming from outside, even with all the windows closed. I fell asleep. Later on, now, I am at home again, listening again to ‘Annex’ in a more quiet surrounding of early evening (windows open). I am to understand that this work is an extension (for that is what an ‘annex’ is, in an architectural sense) of ‘Subsegmental’ (see Vital Weekly 702). I am not sure if Maeder draws from the same sounds as on ‘Subsegmental’, but he uses ‘very short sound segments reproduced at such low speed as to stretch out and form vast soundscapes’ – I couldn’t have this any better myself. The four pieces (sixteen minutes in total) emerge on the near silence, especially ‘Plateau’ is very quiet, much alike the eleven pieces on ‘Subsegmental’. Perhaps without many differences between this one and that one, but its simply beautiful stuff. Maybe its too early to play this music and I should wait until full darkness has set in, but its tranquility is simply great as it is. (FdW)

Annex reprend le terme utilisé en architecture pour qualifier l’extension d’un bâtiment. Il s’agit en effet ici d’un complément à Subsegmental, le dernier album en date de Marcus Maeder, chroniqué sur ces pages il y a quelques mois. L’annexe étant généralement d’une taille plus modeste que le bâtiment principal, il s’agit cette fois d’un EP d’un gros quart d’heure, reprenant le même minimalisme graphique de la pochette, le noir prenant la place du blanc de l’album.
Annex a été composé selon le même procédé que Subsegmental, à partir de brèves sonorités (segments) qui ont été étirés dans le temps. Le style est donc lui aussi le même, une somptueuse ambient minimale qui gagne en cohérence grâce à la concision du format, puisque le disque est simplement composé de 4 pistes.
Si Subsegmental paraissait parfois expérimental avec des sonorités un peu plus difficiles, Annex reste extrêmement doux, l’artiste jouant sur un subtil mélange de souffles ambiants, sifflements faisant penser à des sonorités captées dans l’espace, ou résonances métalliques, sortant à la rigueur un peu de la tonalité générale sur le final de Diesheit, proche d’une plaque de tôle qui serait secouée. Douceurs donc, mais aussi parfois une certaine inquiétude qui peut naitre à l’écoute de ces sonorités fantomatiques, fragiles, flirtant même avec le silence (Plateau).
Il s’agit là d’un très beau complément d’ambient minimaliste, une annexe en forme de nid douillet dans lequel on pourra se trouver un peu à l’étroit. En effet le format EP se révèle un peu court, mais ce pourra être l’occasion de revenir sur Subsegmental.
Fabrice Allard, Etherreal Webzine

Subsegemental is “used in psychology and perception within the context of linguisitics and phonetics” – its about how the smallest units make the meaning. In music ‘the acoustic information is perceived in a segmentary manner, i.e. through very small or short parts of a sound signal’. There is a lot more to it, which are in the liner notes, but essentially Maeder composes using the concept of subsegmental with the help of Mathias S. Oechslin, a neuroscientist. He wrote the liner notes and described ‘the gestalts appearing in his imagination while he listened to the individual pieces and expressed the associations that they conjured up in his mind’. Not easy to relate of this scientific information to the actual music, and perhaps its OK to do what I did: listen to the music, while occasionally glancing at the liner notes. Eleven pieces of highly minimal music: each piece seems to consist of only a few sounds, that arrive with long intervals of silence. This all sounds very much like serious composed computer music, rather than say musique concrete or microsound. Quiet music and while I must admit it didn’t relate for me personally on any sort of psycho level, I actually quite enjoyed the music. Because of its silenceness and apparently nothing going on level, the real beauty is revealed in hearing the material when listened to it close. Avoid dark rooms I’d suggest, as things can be haunting at times. Refined and delicate. (Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly)

Marcus Maeder – Subsegmental
CD – Domizil
Although the term and concept of “subsegmental” are used primarily in psychology and in perception within the context of linguistics and phonetics, nothing stops Marcus Maeder from translating this meme into the field of music. Feeding the cognitive characteristics of tones, organizing acoustic information into subsets fragmenting the sequences and putting at risk our usual ability to grasp whole shapes (be they melodies or – in other areas – written texts and moving images) through this isomorphic method, the author is precise but subtle in shifting our attention towards micro areas of experience. Samples and segments eventually give rise to a minimalist and intricate sound design, coherent yet quite diverse at the same time. No stranger to the reductionist views that have long considered how “less is more” and imagining a whole as the sum of its parts, Marcus Maeder hieratically insists on the punctiform and surreal power of single isolated aural emergencies, between the intervals of silence and the almost ancestral stimulation of the listener.
(Aurelio Cianciotta,, March 2010)


There is a common link to be noted in these three new releases on Domizil and that is their historical roots. It seems to me that all three artists derive their music and concepts from the past – the post World War II electronic avant-garde. Perhaps this is least present in the mini CD by Marcus Maeder. His music has the smallest ties to the historical avant-garde and lies more in the field of microsound. Six tracks which hoover more or less on the fringes of hearing, until at one point things burst out. Most likely these are processed field recordings (which is another difference with the old world) which aren’t easy to trace back into something we could have heard in the real world, but composition wise this still has faint traces of the serious avant-garde. Blocks of sounds gliding and passing in a gentle way, with that odd burst at ‘Andrea Virla’. Maybe there is some aquatic theme to is, but it’s a bit hard to see. However this is short (twenty minute) release, but its very gentle and nice. (…) Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, 2009

this land is your land
winter 2002/2003 review
marcus maeder: quiconque

Techniques are important only so far as they are invisible. Intention is often disguised as meaning. Wicked licks and brainy myopic chalkboard circuits make wonderful new world. Sometimes even some music comes along and speaks.

But then there are glowing signs of life at the bottom of the sea: or were they found in the crust of a comet? Sometimes we dont know as much as we say we do. Music works like this: it connects us with things that we sort of vaguely know are there, but have no way of proving otherwise.

Which is why most religions have music as a number one priority. Which is also why films can get under our skin, and we feel so alone sometimes at night when a happy song is playing inappropriately.

When I listen to this disc, I try not to pay any attention to how it was made: it defeats the purpose. Also, I dislike the idea that it may have precedent (like there is anything without).

So, the best way to hear it is unexpectedly. This is difficult because in order to hear it, you need to take it out of its package and put it into your disc player. So then, I will just imagine I heard this at the beach when I swam too deep last summer, lost track of which way was up, and panicked for a second.

A. Bergman/Luckykitchen

Transient Travels – a compilation

“Transient Travels” was initially conceived in 2004 as “a temporary travel agency” presenting different takes on digital music in the Sound Train during the Swiss World New Music Days; this cd now luckily documents the event, presenting six fairly long tracks by the involved artists. Mostpieces seem to be obviously focused on the concepts of travel and time, and though it’s frankly hard to find a red thread between, say, COH’s sinewaves electronica and Ilios’ brooding sub-drones, or AGF’s contemporary composition and Hecker’s diginoise, all of them offer very strong and convincing works. The generous length of the tracks allows the pieces to develop and build their own peculiar soundscapes, as in the case of the two Transient Travels curators’ (Jasch and Marcus Maeder) pieces, both creating harsh and fascinating performances out of digitally fragmented instruments. An extensive booklet features writings from the respective artists, which are always interesting to read when the music is that good. Surely one of the best compilations I’ve heard in a while.

Eugenio Magg


Quiconque follows a small handful of releases by Marcus Maeder for the Zurich based Domizil label, which he co-runs with Bernd Schurer. He presents eight tracks of stunning electronics, employing the staples of glitch (snap-crackle-pop) in a series of compelling arrangements. The music resides mostly on an abstract level, presenting a range of textures and tones in open, non-rhythmic arrangements. The mood is often sparse, cool and distanced; the sounds appear with immaculate clarity and immediacy. Occasionally, as in the track “prigorod,” a slippery rhythm kicks in, but all the while remaining very subtle, clean and mellow. The most striking thing about Maeder’s music is the dynamics, the way these sounds flirt with one another and move in the sonic space, from left to right, back and forth, above and below. The textures, static, ambience, crackles and tones are arranged in such a way that draws the listener in deeper and deeper with repeated listening. It’s an excellent new work, and recommended.

Richard di Santo


Can avant-garde electronica be emotional? Full of feelings? In a genre that is almost completely filled with cold, robotic sounds and sinister scifi atmospheres, Marcus Maeder succeeds in letting some emotions come through the surface of frozen atmospheres and non-lineair abstraction. It doesn’t help to get the temperature any warmer, because whatever the emotions represent, they are the opposite of happiness. This makes Quiconque, which means “anyone”, a cold and sombre album. Desolate is the right word. Distorted soundscapes get disturbed by sudden explosions of electronic noise, while underneath lays a foundation of a deep, dark drone. Sounds appear, dissappear and reappear on an irregular basis. Nothing is certain, except the known fact that there isn’t any room for happiness. Sometimes a steady rhythm drops by, as if it wants to take us to an other place. At moments like this, hope tries to get through, but without any chance of succes. But is Quiconque such a bad place to live then? I think not. Marcus Maeder arrives at places which Biosphere never dared to explore, while Richard D. James was too busy being light and funny. Welcome to another undiscovered country.

by Bas Ickenroth


Of course I have no clue who this Marcus Maeder is, other then being a swiss guy releasing music on a new swiss label Domizil (who will soon release a CD by the guy from Das Erdwerk). It turns out to be a most curious record: sounds from daily life (which are hard to trace back to their origin) are sampled and distorted, keyboards are playing almost childish melodies (as in ‘Kleinigkeiten’) and rhythms are built from mistakes. In all, a modern record, which excentely displays the qualities of modern technology and still maintains, important for us, an experimental character. Maeder is definetly redefining both popmusic and electro-acoustic music. Strange easyness or easy weirdness…

Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly