Boomkat Product Review:
Percussionist Michael Ranta turns biblical ideas into steeply enigmatic cues for non-verbal communication in a captivating, atavistic way upon his return to Timos van Lujik and co’s Metaphon label. Composed, performed and recorded in Cologne between 1988-89, ’Die Mauer’ primarily serves its function as soundtrack for a ballet choreographed by Philippe Talard. Applying his keenly-studied technique to a rare knowledge of Asian instruments and modern production techniques, the suite renders 11 parts of subtly wide-ranging percussive tones coupled with rustically dissonant string and wind instrumentation, plus barely perceptible electronics, in a way that evokes deeply meditative, ritualistic states of mind and, in turn, opens vast spaces of inquiry for that mind to wander and become enchanted.
In addition to its ostensible purpose, Ranta’s music also works as an extension of his wider practice in exploring the potential of sound to transcend limits of language and evoke a deep-rooted sense of human nature. Since the ’60s he has worked intently at the crossroads between Eastern and Western traditions. firstly as a notable student of Harry Partch, and later with everyone from Josef Anton Riedel to Karlheinz Stockhausen and Conny Plank, all of which imparted a rich knowledge of what was, by then, possible within the framework of modern composition, and perhaps best underlines how his music so naturally resonates with everything from Japanese ambient/4th world/environmental musics to gamelan proper and avant-garde improvisation.
Given his deeply planted roots on both sides of tarditinbak and avant-garde, and taken in context of 1989, when the fall of the Berlin Wall (or Berlin Mauer) triggered a whole new era of cultural relations between East/West, ‘Die Mauer’ comes into its own as a strong example of what happens when you build personal walls, but also make them porous to influence, allowing light to stream thru his singular compositions in a sort of transubstantiation of vibe into affect with an uncanny effect that possibly picks up on or highlights an innate, ancient human abilities for telepathy, or non-verbal communication, for those listeners open-minded enough to see it as such.