Stefan Schmidt – “237 Days Without Sleep” Album Review (noise/experimental)

237 Days Without Sleep

Stefan Schmidt is a guitarist, composer, improviser and teacher.  His earlier history includes experience with punk bands as well as studying classical guitar.  Since 2000, he has created music for films, plays, exhibitions and dance performances.

More recently, Stefan has focused on evolving structures, sound design and free improvisation pieces.

He came to us with what we offer to you today; his 2017 digital release, 237 Days Without Sleep.  Herein Stefan mixes abstraction and minimalism to create a diverse experimental offering.  It’s a Name Your Own Price release so you have no excuse not to listen to it.  Those of you interested in noise, experimental sound art and the like should find this release very unique as we did.

Experimenting with harsh noise walls and such definitely have their place and ideas behind them.  But it’s an entirely different skill altogether to create a balance between noise and minimalist experimentation thus creating a sense of “comfort within discomfort,” or a sense of not being sure but not wanting to look away.

Track 1 is an uneasy soundscape with ambient and slightly noisy backgrounds and some periodic reverberated string plucking.  Some slight experimentation with static noise weaved in closes out the track with the background.  Very uncomfortable and haunting track to start the release off.

Stefan Schmidt

Track 3 experiments with some extreme low bass with light static covering and a few deep string picks.  The noise develops in such a away that reminds us of a fly increasing and decreasing in volume and distance.  Progressively through the track, Stefan fills the piece with improvisational noises, static, drone-like sounds and what seems like something different every time you listen to it.  It’s one of those pieces that is interesting each time you listen.

In track 4, Stefan experiments heavily with noise (and lack thereof) on a number of levels; in heavy walls, in solitary static tracks and merging with reverb-laden sharp background elements.  This one basically shows how the artist’s dynamics in terns of delicacy and harshness, from simplicity to complex.

Track 5 partially sounds like a mix between 70s B-movie sound effects with some improvisational treated guitar.  The distinctive aspect of this mix is that it shows the artist’s skill with mixing.  As opposed to simple layering, we hear depth in this track.  Sporadic experimental treated guitar plucking, predominantly discordant fades into the backdrop of the track leaving an unearthly and uneasy feel.

Stefan Schmidt is an extraordinarily diverse artist who experiments with ambiance, noise, effects and organic elements.  I’m not sure what’s been going on in Germany as of late but it is definitely something interesting.  Go give him a listen.

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