Selected Reviews and Excerpts 1988 - 2014


The Art of Instrumentation - Homage to Glenn Gould
The most daring is a cross between five of Bach’s Goldberg Variations and two intermezzos from the works of Arnold Schoenberg, set by Steven Kovacs Tickmayer and giving the listener a constant expectation of challenge – just as Gould used to do. Rarely does a recording extend our musical curiosity as much as this one does.

Norman Lebrecht, Open Letters Monthly


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Alias Chamber Ensemble gives the 21st century its due
Stevan Tickmayer's Three Variations on a theme by J.S. Bach (2005) for violin, piano and vibraphone sounded amazingly modern, despite its use of an 18th-century chorale. After the piano stated the basic chord progression, the vibraphone joined in, adding a shimmering luminosity to the texture. The violin then entered into a sensuous dialogue with the other instruments. Gooding, pianist Melissa Rose and percussionist Christopher Norton played with remarkable spontaneity, as if the musicians were discovering the music as they played.

John Pitcher, ArtNow Nashville, March 2012


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On est pris à la gorge lorsque sonnent les accords puissants de Franck, après la dizaine de minutes que durent les Eight Hymns de Tickmayer, dont les sonorités suspendues et cristallines distillent une vraie poésie.

Nicolas Southon, Diapason, November 2010


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Profound Spirit of Gidon Kremer
The CD opens with Hungarian composer Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer's Eight Hymns in memoriam Andrei Tarkovsky, honoring the late Russian filmmaker. Like Kancheli's piece, it was already completed, albeit in a different form, before word of Tarkovsky's death reached the composer, who has recomposed it expressly for the Kremerata.
It's a work of unbroken solemnity and cumulative, aching beauty.

Tim Pfaff
The Bay Area Reporter, October 2010


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Voilà donc la première discographique, de ‘Eight Hymns’ du compositeur, pianiste, contrebassiste et improvisateur hongrois Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer. Fine et méditative, sa partition tisse un entrelacs de cordes entre les trois instrumentistes solos: violon, piano et vibraphone. La sonorité cristalline de ce dernier rehausse le caractère volontiers plaintif de ces Hymnes à la douceur veloutée. Une partition à découvrir, dont la proximité avec Silent Prayer, de Giya Kancheli, est un atout.

Franck Mallet, Classica, October 2010


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Hymns and Prayers combines three works from disparate eras whose moods fit together in a pleasingly astringent manner. Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer’s “Eight Hymns” is a series of quiet miniatures, spare piano forms haunted by high string and vibes tones, forming tranquil, contemplative sound-mobiles redolent of the late filmmaker’s unhurried grace; and Giya Kancheli’s “Silent Prayer” has a similarly meditative cast. The modern pieces are separated by César Franck’s “Piano Quintet in F-Minor”, the lachrymose tone of which works surprisingly well in the context.

Andy Gill, The Independent, September 2010


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And this piece is great. The Eight Hymns are dedicated to the memory of Andrei Tarkovsky, and it would be difficult to think of a more appropriate memorial to the director. The mood is subdued and the dominant sonorities are isolated vibraphone notes and pianissimo violin harmonics. The whole piece takes you into the dreamlike world of The Mirror or Solaris, and as in Tarkovsky's greatest work, the piece, calm as it is, invokes a range of images and sensations, with which the sounds themselves then interact. Everything hovers around the boundary between the real and the imagined, and without the music ever making that distinction emphatic. Needless to say, it's an instant ECM classic.

Gavin Dixon


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Lockenhaus Konzerteindrücke
Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer, ein aus Novisad gebürtiger ungarischstämmiger Serbe war schon vor Lockenhaus vom 25. bis 29. Juni beim 6. Festival der Kremerata Baltica in Sigulda (ca. 50 km östlich von Riga) eingeladen. Er zeigte starke kompositorische Momente in einem Kremer und dem Orchester gewidmeten Werk, „Kanonische Beschwörungen - Monumentum per Joseph Haydn“ für Streichtrio (ohne Kremer, obwohl anwesend) und Streichorchester....

Wolfgang Stern
Drehpunkt Kultur, July 2009


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A resident of France since 1991, Yugoslavian born and classically trained composer/instrumentalist Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer is a prominent artist who engages projects with ex-Henry Cow alumni, guitarist Fred Frith, and drummer Chris Cutler among many cutting-edge stylists. Over the years, he's spread his wares throughout a broad spectrum, covering classical and avant-progressive rock amid numerous genre-scorching proclivities.
Cutler and guitarist/drummer Robert Drake perform on various tracks along with others, yet it's Tickmayer's bizarre fusion of off kilter classical, free-improvisation and Eastern folk melodies with prog-rock grooves that convey his all-encompassing skills. With freaky EFX treatments to complement music that skirts a rather frenetic pace, Tickmayer's arsenals of pianos, electric keyboards, and samplers enable him to generate an armada of unlikely hues and textures. But in certain movements, his acoustic piano performances conjure up imagery of jazz giant, Cecil Taylor. It's partly about controlled chaos, where notions of a social breakdown in a large metropolis occasionally come to mind.
The album is segmented into three multi-part pieces: Concerto grosso, Cold Peace Counterpoints and Five Bagatelles for a Polyhistor. Through it all, he executes an onslaught of metrics. On “E-guitar Ostinato,” he projects a hyper-mode Henry Cow type scenario via his odd-metered phrasings and Drake's complex e-guitar lines. This is followed by the dark, ethereal piece “Troparion,” which sounds like a theme for a mysterious sci-fi thriller. In other areas, Tickmayer projects a high-impact and discombobulated vision of humanity, or so it seems.
He embeds circus music with harmonium-based phrasings to counter mutant folk and pop-rock motifs as well. It's a fiendishly crazed and mesmeric sequence of musical prospects that most will most assuredly probe your psyche. And it's all quite entertaining.

Reviewer: Glenn Astarita
Jazz Review


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Composer, multi-instrumentalist Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer doesn't create what you'd call easy listening or easy on the ears music. His compositions which categorically fall into what you'd call experimental or avant-garde, are both complex and intense in nature. Basically they demand the listeners attention, yet they are not particularly easy to digest.
Cold Peace Counterpoints is made up of three distinctly different suites of music, two of which are dedicated to artistic friends of his who passed away within a short period of each other. Performed almost entirely by him alone, the first and final suites, Concerto Grosso and Five Bagatelles for a Polyhistor are definitely the most out there musically. You get a veritable sonic potpourri on the Concerto suite as Tickmayer blends his frenzied acoustic and prepared piano excursions together with various samples, wildly off kilter drum patterns and funky bass work, which makes for some very strange yet intriguing results. The "Passamezzo Ongaro" and "Polyostinatio" pieces kind of have an early Mothers of Invention feel to them.
The Cold Peace suite contains only three compositions. "E-Guitar Ostinato" features some furious almost Fripp-like runs up and down the fret board before segueing into "Troparian" which is a dark atmospheric track comprised mainly of just piano, harmonium and eerie synth washes. The suite concludes with a short piece of music entitled "Violin Ostinato".
If Concerto Grosso is the more difficult and complex suite, and Cold Peace the one that is easier on the ears, then Five Bagatelles for a Polyhistor finds some middle ground between the two, although there is some pretty adventurous material here as well. "Ott fogsz majd sirni (Crippled Tango No.2)" is a particularly abstract piece of work with a bit of humor thrown in as well. The highlight of this final suite is the six minute "Our Fashion is Our Brain" which morphs into a lightning fast drum 'n bass track as Tickmayer's fires off a flurry of notes on his piano in order to keep up with frantic rhythmic pace.
All in all I'd have to say Cold Peace Counterpoints as a whole is pretty eclectic collection of music that, as I mentioned at the top of this review, won't be easy to digest especially if you're someone who's not usually inclined to go down the experimental route. If however you're looking for some real adventurous music to dig your teeth into and you're willing to invest some time trying to figure out what Tickmayer's all about musically, then I think you'll find this one has plenty to offer. While I definitely didn't 'get' all of it, I did like most of it.

Sea of Tranquility
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks


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Seattle Chamber Players go out on an esoteric limb

Best of all, the world premiere of Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer's "Brettl Trio" for clarinet, violin and piano brought the audience back to a world of understandable music. There was tango, jazz, the feel of Hungarian Gypsy music, and prepared piano effects, all combined in a lively substantive work that was no less sophisticated and imaginative because it was melodic and structured.

Philippa Kiraly
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 4, 2007


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Released: 21st November 2005, BBC

Steven Kovacs Tickmayer
Repetitive Selective Removal of One Protecting Group

Drawing upon an arsenal of sonic devices, Tickmayer has created a kaleidoscopic world of random motifs, fragmented rhythms and bursts of brittle noise. However, the chaos is only on the surface. This is difficult music, but far from impenetrable. In fact, the scores for all twenty-one short pieces on this CD are written out, and Tickmayer imposes a rigorous, cerebral control throughout.

The results can be playful, even to the point of evoking a Carl Stallings/Looney Tunes universe of pratfalls and silly walks. Other compositions combine processed hyper-piano, icy, ethereal strings or cathedral organ for a more austere and sometimes pensive quality.

Tickmayer's cleverness is beyond dispute, but what really elevates this CD is the emotion behind the parlor tricks. The composer is a citizen of the former Yugoslavia, and perhaps not coincidentally, most if not all of the music on this CD has something other than gamesmanship at its core. This is perhaps best illustrated by the truly ominous "Quiet Approaching" or the three-part "Our Framework of Apocalypse," although everything on the disc resonates with heightened awareness.

Reviewer: Bill Tilland


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I have no idea what's going on here, but I kind of like it.

Steven Kovacs Tickmayer is a Hungarian multi-instrumentalist and composer from Yugoslavia who now lives in France, but mostly he appears to be a musical provocateur. This album features 21 short, weird pieces that combine jazz, avant-classical, ambient, rock, and electronic musics, jumbled all up together so that you can't tell what you are hearing. Some of it is old (Tickmayer was a founder of Science Group), most of it is new, all of it is out-as-hell.

One might think this would be a prescription for disaster, but that's not the case. It's actually pretty damned great in its own way. “Differential Motivation” is emblematic: it combines bebop walking bass figures, Eno-like quasi-Afrobeat guitar, shuffling, stuttering percussion explosions, wild battalions of organs that turn into accordions, shattering glass, and violins deployed like saws. It's a mess, to be sure, but a mess with a purpose; it never loses the frenetic beat, it never gets old (the advantage of a 1:59 running time), and it's creative and fun.

See, fun creativity is what can turn boring old assembly-line avant-jazz into great, wonderful, bizarre listening. The track called “Orderliness” makes its title sound like a lie, with continual breakdowns of its crazed flailing beat and impossibly fast multitracked synth pulses, until you realize how much work must have gone into every second of it, and how orderly it all is after all, and how “order” itself is massively important and massively overrated at the same time. It's a brisk two minutes in this universe, and then we're off into the John Zorn / Kronos Quartet / Husker Du / P-Funk mashup that is “Genetic Lottery.” It's impossible, but it's adorable, but it's chaotic and hard to listen to, but you just can't stop listening to it anyway.

The drones are harder to deal with than the pileups, but the best pieces—like the drum-n-bass plus Steve Reich times death metal equals hilarity of “Deprotection—are the ones that go fast and end up in five different blind alleys at once. The most “serious” piece is a doom-und-grind thing called “Our Framework of Apocalypse,” which is made up of two unpleasant screechy movements and one cute sci-fi one. I think Tickmayer is better when he sticks to fragments, though.

It occurs to me that I haven't described the music very precisely. Well, that's on purpose. If this review hasn't set you screaming back to your precious Bix 78s yet, then try to give Tickmayer a shot. You won't believe what you're hearing, and that will be a good thing.

Reviewer: Matt Cibula
All about Jazz


* * *

Half genius, half madness, Repetitive Selective Removal of One Protecting Group is probably THE most difficult avantprog release of 2005. Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer is finally back in his role as the meticulous composer going impossibly berserk in the most orderly fashion. Each one of the 21 selections on this disc is a mindboggling combination of styles, compositional techniques and moods. Instruments? Name your preference: keyboards aplenty, strings, guitars, drums, miscellaneous objects, all represented in various acoustic, electric and electronic forms. Some passages rely on spedup drumming from Chris Cutler, while a beatbox reigns in other sections. At times, the music sounds like Bob Drake recording from within a computer instead of his old haunted barn ("Restriction Fragment Length"). Ragtime piano, menacing B3 and Cageian prepared piano are featured in various places, along with what sounds like scores of uncredited guest musicians sampled or featured only for a few seconds at a time (the press release mentions that Tickmayer has used sessions from the latest Science Group album, featuring Cutler and bassist Bob Drake, but that leaves a lot of almostrecognized contributions unaccounted for). Tickmayer composes in sections, each piece sounding like a clever assemblage of segments that keep changing their minds about their identity or purpose in the grand scheme of things. The listener bounces back and forth between Latin outbursts ("Differential Motivation"), nursery rhymes ("Designative Codes"), alien folklore ("Designative Codes" again) and a mixture of Frank Zappa's orchestral and synclavier works (the threepart suite "Our Framework of Apocalypse"). After a first listen, you will feel that the music contains way too much information. After a second listen, the level of organization of that information becomes palpable but it's still too much information. That feeling of something bigger, insanely well structured looming from above gets stronger every time, yet never diminishes the level of exhaustion and the amazement every listen triggers. Recommended, but only if you know what you are doing

Reviewer: François Couture, All Music Guide


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Spoors related reviews:

To most of us, the term progressive rock means concept albums, triple necked guitars and cape-wearing keyboard wizards, most of whom who retired hurt in the punk rock wars of 1976. But while punk grew into a movement as reactionary and commercialised as the status quo (no pun intended) it set out to destroy, a strain of exploratory, politically radical and complex music was being made that did (and still does) merit the term 'progressive'. Chris Cutler's ReR label has been a key outlet for such efforts since the late 70s, and despite sometimes perilous financial straits seems to go from strength to strength with each release.
The Science Group are led by composer and keyboardist Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer. Spoors is their second album, and in a slightly altered lineup features guitarist Mike Johnson in place of Fred Frith, along with the wonderful Bob Drake on bass and Cutler's octopoidal drums. While their debut featured Amy Denio singing Cutler's quantum physics inspired texts, this is a purely instrumental record.
Even without musings on Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Schrodinger's Cat, it's difficult to escape thoughts of bewildering subatomic phenomena when dealing with the intricacies of this fantastically rich music. This really doesn't sound much like anything else; bursts of free improv, C20 classical, cheesy organ melodies, sampladelic cut 'n' paste, advanced mathrock pulses, drum 'n' bass, cheerful dissonances, echoes of Eastern European folk, all assembled with a watchmaker's precision and cut with Drake's singular engineering skills.
It may be virtuosic stuff, but it's the collective virtuosity of a string quartet rather than the mere ego boosting showmanship that usually happens when advanced instrumental technique ends up in the hands of rock musicians. But neither are the Science Group a bunch of automata obeying the composer's wishes.
Drake's slightly warped imagination infects his spiralling, crunchy basslines, while Cutler sounds like Keith Moon playing Varese's Ionisation as he rides Tickmayer's fiendish time signatures. Johnson switches from angular distortions to amiable twanging to full on avant metal thrash. Tickmayer's samples and keyboards glue proceedings together with slabs of sour chords, hyperspeed arpeggios and bursts of digital noise.
Exhausting, obtuse and beautiful all at once, the Science Group prove that in the right hands, rock (or whatever you want to call it) is an infinitely malleable form, capable of expressing pretty much anything. Here comes the Science bit...
Reviewer: Peter Marsh
Released: 3rd January 2004 on the BBC website


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Keyboardist Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer’s compositions are weirdly embellished within a potpourri of contemporary classical undertones, progressive rock stylizations, and extreme avant-garde tendencies. On the group's second release, guitarist Mike Johnson (Thinking Plague) replaces Fred Frith.
Once again, drumming hero Chris Cutler (Henry Cow) graces his associates’ unorthodox manifesto via his signature style mode of exactness and ability to navigate thru impossibly complex time signatures. With Tickmayer’s fluid compositions, this quartet operates with a cyclonic like intensity. Here, an indirect sense of spookiness sometimes coalesces with the musicians’ odd tunings, multihued electronics, layered acoustic-electric guitar parts, and a sardonic modus operandi. It’s a Science Project for sure. As the band switches gears within a nanosecond’s timeframe. Consequently, the overriding sense of adventure witnessed here, cannot be undermined. Think of Frank Zappa’s zaniness combined with impressionistic art, liquefying EFX and it all might seem as though you were caught up in a downright, preposterous dream. It’s a snaking path of ultramodern musical statements. (Highlyrecommended…)

Reviewed by: Glenn Astarita


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Being part of a real-life science group myself, I can appreciate where this band is coming from. My day job as a molecular biologist consists of picking up questions and trying to find answers, with a certain amount of head-bashing and plenty of unpredictable stabs in the dark. This particular collection of musical experimenters returns with its second record, Spoors, after many changes in orientation and personnel (most notably the loss of a vocal element). The current Science Group includes composer/keyboard player Steven Kovacs Tickmayer, bassist Bob Drake, drummer Chris Cutler, and guitarist Mike Johnson. It's a solid, intuitively connected quartet.
It's hard to discern exactly how these pieces are put together, but they are clearly assembled according to some (relatively predetermined) master plan. That would be the so-called “modern classical” element of the record. The details are Tickmayer's business, but the sheer and unrelenting recklessness of the music works for exactly that reason. It's a postmodern love-fest, full of weird harpsichord-like themes, bells, samples, and outer space noises—blown up repeatedly by rock-hard grooves, intense drill-n-bass patterns, detours into swing and calypso, and so on. (Most often it resembles prog-rockers like King Crimson, but that's a vast simplification.) Regular beats often, but dark atmospheres just as well.
Such an approach is, like molecular biology, usually a recipe for failure. Science is, after all, all about the unknown. But in all honesty this particular attempt is an utter and complete success. You have to be willing to follow jump cuts through ten genres in one piece, accept brief periods of unabashed noise, and see what weird sounds these players can make out of their gear. The four suites here (representing 15 individual tracks) don't have a great deal of obvious coherence, but much of the message lies between the lines. The changes are not at all random, and the connections between them are often surprisingly enlightening.
It's hard to recommend such a frantic, open-ended record to just anyone. The music begs constant attention, continually surprises, and insists on regular irony. But take the plunge, check out the unknown, and you might just float. This is really cool stuff.

Nils Jacobson (


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Tout l'univers de Tickmayer

Voici un compositeur doué. Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer a administré la preuve de son talent hors normes, vendredi soir, au sein de l'Astrolabe...un superbe concert, fort applaudi.
Leur a succédé Stevan Tick­mayer, seul sur scène, dans son paysage de claviers, samplers et autres ordinateurs.
Ce musicien, à n'en pas dou­ter, compose en liberté. Ce qui n'empêche pas une étonnante maîtrise technique et formelle, de tous les instants. Il a enchaîné dix morceaux, une suite intitulée « La Paix froide », kaléidoscope vertigineux de couleurs, de sons, de rythmes. Tout l'art du compositeur est d'amalgamer des éléments hétérogènes — en apparence — et de leur donner une densité et une logique musi­cales et esthétiques. Un travail puissant qui montre que Tick­mayer a assimilé différents cou­rants de ce siècle : musique con­temporaine, concrète, jazz, rock, world music, harmonies traditionnelles et autres.
Face à ses touches, à ses manettes, à ses instruments variés (du synthétiseur au vio­lon), le compositeur a donné un vrai spectacle au spectre des plus larges, utilisant à bon escient un écran vidéo. Le tout emportant le public dans un uni­vers foisonnant mais structuré, à la fois éclaté et concis, lyrique et minimaliste. Un espace-temps original, singulier, sans conces­sion artistique, et toujours por­teur d'émotions.

Thierry GUÈRIN
La république du centre, 10 juin 2002


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...a mere coinicidence... related reviews:

An instant classic from an avant-prog nerd's dream band
Slippery, elusive and prone to flying off at odd angles and obscure tangents at a moments notice, the Science Group's arcane musical theorems function as a virtual object lesson in leaving the listener in the lurch. A quick perusal of the participants résumés (Henry Cow, Art Bears, Massacre and Tone Dogs to name but a few) should clue you in to the magnitude of talent involved here. Together, Chris Cutler, Fred Frith, Bob Drake, Steven Tickmayer and Amy Denio form an avant-prog nerd's dream band. Next to the structural chicanery and time-signature torture on display here though, the participants' other ensembles sound like Menudo. Now oppressive, now expansive, Drake's patented paradoxical production values (previously put to such fine use in his mind-erasing ensembles 5uu's and Thinking Plague) have been taken to their end-game conclusion here as successive vistas of surrealist audio architecture unfold, implode and reconfigure, signaling your synapses to follow suit. All of the above functions as a sublime counterpoint to Cutler's exploratory texts about chaos theory, quantum physics, black holes and the formation of galaxies. Like subatomic particles whose appearance changes relative to the instruments used in their detection, A Mere Coincidence will register as many things to many people. To me, it means bearing witness to artistic godhead. It also means I need to lie down.

Eric Lumbleau


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Fascinating album taking in free-jazz, powerpop and prog (often in one song).
So here it is, Quantum Mechanics: The Musical (subtitled Schrodinger's CATS! perhaps). Actually this album is a coherent and important piece of work, and not without a sense of humour itself. Cutler has written lyrics which grapple with some fairly intractable scientific and philosophical ideas: genetic engineering, chaos theory, love. Modern classical composer Stevan Tickmayer has set them to music. If that sounds a bit dry, think again. The settings refelct the complexities and simplicities of the subject matter perfectly. On Mnemonic futuristic Thelonius Monk bursts forth from a sub-atomic electronic strom and then is subsumed again. Lost In Translation describes the Big Bang thus: "An explosion with no centre / An expansion with no edge". And then acts it out. Other tracks are even 'listenable', nay melodic, vocalist Amy Denio coming on like a boffin choir-girl. As school textbooks used to say - Physics Is Fun.

Joe Cushley


* * *

Chris Cutler (HENRY COW, ART BEARS, PERE UBU) & Bob Drake (HAIL) team up to play the works of composer Steven Tickmayer. Fasten your seatbelts…this is probably the most intense experimental rock album ever made, hurtling at light speed through as many riffs, off beat chord changes and impossible vocal lines as can be crammed onto a CD. Occasional points of rest from the onslaught are provided! Interspersed are beautiful and quiet passages, reminiscent of Avro Part, with vocals provided by Amy Denio (CURLEW and the NUDES)…

Sunday Times review 21/11/1999


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While this ad hoc group of new music marvels may not match the powerhouse amplification of Fear Factory or Type O Negative decibel for decibel, the intensity and density from this one-off collaboration may be just as extraordinary. And not because the music is doomy and experimental, although this isn't some free jazz folks squawking their brains out in tribute to H.P. Lovecraft. Using the figurative texts of Henry Cow/Pere Ubu drummer Chris Cutler, composer/keyboardist Stevan Tickmayer forges a harsh blend subterranean electronics and noxious classical themes, eliciting an exotic chamber of horrors from the dark side of the avant-garde. Tickmayer slowly amasses his work by layering an assortment of musical tidbits (a Dixieland clarinet here, a prepared piano there) into a thick, concentrated, gothic-sounding maze. Forwarding the elements to remixer Bob Drake, the music is run through some startling sonic treatments, while a few guest contributors (vocalist Amy Denio and guitarist Fred Frith, among others) add some conclusive touches. The resulting sounds are as diverse as their ingredients. For instance, segments of "Lost In Translation" are poppy and funky enough to be a lost Eurythmics track, while parts of "Engineering" sound like Bauhaus mixed with Philip Glass. Likewise, the thick Hammond organ chords of "Open or Closed?" sound like Jimmy Smith trying his nimble fingers at some Sun Ra. Of course, the music has its own logic and seamless flow of changes, all of which sounds much more cohesive and strung together than this review's laundry list of contents. And especially given the peculiar, dark quality of the whole project. Fans intrigued by these sorts of Kronos/Balanescu/Soldier String semi-classical musings or Zornish downtown travels will enjoy this immensely.

Richard Proplesch


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Sogar in einem so duster grundierten Werk wie Tickmeyers „Out of Settle World", das Tismas „Kapo"-Lesung folgte. Gleich das titel­gebende erste von zehn Teilstücken bietet das Grundmuster: über Tapes eingespielte, ostinat anbrandende vi­braphone Klangflächen. Neben und gegen diese spielt die Oboe an, wie später gegen Techno-Druck oder sin­fonisches Chaos Oboe, Cello, Trom­pete, Posaune oder die Stimme des verfolgten Performers. Musikalisch ist das ungemein dicht und hoch kom­plex, mit Anklängen, die etwa mit ei­nem Menuett ebenso tief aus der Mu­sikhistorie schöpfen wie Elemente von Minimal music oder New Jazz einver­leibt sind: ein ordentlicher Brocken!

Georg Linsemann
Schwäbische Zeitung, 10.07.1998


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Kurtàg -Tickmayer: émotions d'ajourd'hui

Ils viennent d'une région du monde qui a connu bien des bouleversements et des soufrances. Ces blessures restent ouvertes chez des compositeurs comme Kurtag et Tickmayer. Vendredi soir, au Carré Saint-Vincent, leurs belles musiques s'en sont fait les messagers, avec force et humilité. En première partie, cinq courtes pièces, pierres précieuses aux nombreuses facettes. Ecrites par Kurtag, elles s'apparentent à des miniatures concentrées, tant dans la forme que l'expression. "Bruit-souvenir" offre un alliage réussi entre une soprano et un violon. "Games" se fragmente en jeux malicieux et énigmatiques pour piano. Quant à "Signs, games et messages", il se fond dans le silence tout en le révélant. Moins convaincant: le duo pour trombone et piano. A noter, une parfaite interprétation de tous les instrumentistes, éclairant avec talent cette musique de l'intérieur. On les a tous retrouvés pour la seconde partie du concert. Au programme: une oeuvre de Tickmayer, compositeur attiré du chorégraphe Josef Nadj. "En dehors du monde habité" parle de la guerre, de la souffrance, de la séparation, de l'exil. Une composition riche et dense, qui déploie à bon escient un large éventail de moyens musicaux et de couleurs, le tout dans un langage moderne, éloquent, porteur d'émotion. Elle prouve clairement combien la musique dite "contemporaine" - qui effraie et déroute tant de gens - est bien l'expression naturelle de notre époque, de ses interrogations et de ses espérances. "En dehors du monde habité" renferme des sons et des notes mais également des mots signés du poète Tisma et des mouvements orchestrés par Josef Nadj, auxquels les musiciens et un comédien donnent vie. Le tout formant un spectacle musical de grande qualité, qui stimule le coeur et l'esprit. Disons pour paraphraser son titre, qu'il est habité.

Thierry GUÈRIN
La République du Centre, 1 décembre 1997


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Tickmayer Formatio : Wilhelm Dances

C'est surtout lorsque l'on apprend que Wilhelm Dances 1992 est en fait la musique d'une chrorégraphie que le déclic se fait. Les compositions de Tickmayer servent la pièce de Josef Nadj Les échelles d'Orphée. Au premier coup d'oreille, on pense inévitablement à Stravinsky. A la seconde écoute,on y ajoute Auric, Poulenc, Satie, Milhaud. Mais, de temps en temps, la musique dérape et l'on reconnais Michael Nyman et Michael Mantler, agrémentés de quelque marche ou quadrille très début de siècle. Pour l'ouïe encore plus fine, on découvrira, vers la fin de Nervous rehearsal, quelques mesures du StabatMater de Pergolèse. Tout ce petit fatras musical baigne dans une ambiance très surréaliste, évoquant Entr'acte de René Clair ou les grandes réunions nocturnes au Boeuf sur le toit Références, références ... ! Le seul reproche que le puisse faire à cette oeuvre (reproche qui n'en est, en fait, pas un), c'est l'absence du côté visuel qui ne peut exister sur un simple CD. Le côté figuratif, suggestif de la musique donne l'inévitable envie de voir le ballet de Nadj. Alors que le style môme dans lequel s'est bien installé Tickmayer pourrait sembler quelque peu anachronique à certains, on ne peut pas ne pas reconnaître le grand talent qui se dégage de la composition, de la perfection d'interprétation des Wilhem dances. L'originalité su septet (ou du septuor, devrait-on dire dans ce cas) réside aussi dans l'instrumentation tout à fait classique (fl-clar-tp-basson-tb-violoncelle-p/harmo/perc), d'où. assez paradoxalement, est exclu le violon. Une très belle oeuvre non dénuée d'humour (ce qui ne gàte rien), mais qui risquerait de passer trop inaperçue. Trop peu de jazz, si ce n'est à la manière Gershwin, pour le public jazz. Trop de clins d'oeil (un tango par ci, par là.... etc) Pour le public classique qui la trouvera anachronique. Mais c'est en cela que la Tickmayer Formatio peut faire changerles choses. Et mérite donc plus que le détour.

Jazz In Time (Belgium)


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Images de gags

...Le spectacle se situe aussi dans la postérité de l'Histoire du Soldat de Ramuz et Stravinski, bien qu'il n'y ait ici ni texte ni scénario à proprement parler; mais il y a une musique, jouée sur scéne par une petit formation, musique absolument ravissante, pimpante, savante sous sa fausse "naïveté" et ses couleurs populaires, comme celle de Stravinski. Elle est signée Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer...

S. de N
Le Monde, 17 juillet 1992


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The Battle With The Tradition

...after the fruitless endeavors of the Armenians to present us some contemporary music reactivation, the performance of the outstanding Vojvodinian composer Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer and his ensemble was a real "relaxation". Although Tickmayer says that he definitely casts away the Adornian theory of cognitive character of art & music, that does not mean that the main intention of the ensemble "Tickmayer Formatio" is to entertain. A one and half hour, & something more Tickmayer led us in the huge hall of disfigured mirrors with his magnificent collages of the musical past & present, without any prejudicements of the official categorizations of serious or non-serious music. Certainly, till creates it's future, Biennale should stop in front of Tickmayer's mirrors as well.

Branimir Pofuk,
Vjesnik (Zagreb), April 11 1991


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Stevan Kovac Tickmayer: piano, voice.
Het Apollohuis, Friday, April 20th, 1990.

In Het Apollohuis performances on the piano never take place in the exhibition-room, but on the second floor of this former factory-building, in manager Paul Panhuysen's studio. It gives those concerts a special feeling of intimacy and warmth. Last Friday Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer played there, a young Yugoslavian composer of Hungarian descent. Before the concert he had prepared the grand by putting cellotape on part of the strings and scattering sheets of paper over them, giving the instrument a peculiar rattling timbre.
Tickmayer started with establishing a theme. He condensed it, stretched it, after which he made excursions in the high registers at the breakneck speed, always returning to the theme. The impression of speed was enhanced by the clattering of the prepared strings. He accompanied his playing with throat-singing, in which he sometimes followed the melody, and sometimes took a totally different track, or seemed to muse over the acrobatic feats of his fingers on the keys.
Essentially he repeated this pattern after removing the preparations, changing the theme throughout the concert. One time it was based on the use of the sustain-pedal, through which he could play the piano in a standing position like a harp. He played chords by pushing the keys with his left hand, and pressing down the pedal and letting it go. It made the instrument sound surprisingly like a reed-organ.
After that he put down a pentatonic line that might have been derived from Bartók, while the variations were based on Hungarian folk-melodies. Tickmayer transformed it into a martial piece that sounded at once restless and heavy. While his right hand was playing a capricious melody, his other started to boogie. Themes were alternately ominous, solemn and exciting; the excursions were raving deviations played with intense physical input. What this concert lacked, however, were quiet moments to put the eruptions in the right perspective

Eindhoven Dagblad
April 23, 1990
René van Peer


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Newcomer und alter Hase

Er beginnt seinen musikalischen Monolog mit präpariertem Flügel. Auch wenn es wahrlich kein Novum ist, den Klang dieses Instruments durch Manipulation der Saiten zu verfremden, klingt dieses Experiment, als hätte KovàcsTickmayer es erfunden. SeinTrick ist ganz einfach: Auf den Saiten liegen Papierblätter,teilweise durch eine Rolle Klebeband beschwert. Ein ganzes Gamelan-Orchester wird hörbar oder auch knisternde Hochspannungsleitungen. Stellt sich die Frage, wie man diese Art von Musik aufnehmen soll. Sie akribisch nach Einfüssen, Übernahmen und neuen Ideen zu analysieren, würde ihren Charakter zerstren. Der assoziative Weg scheint der geeigne tere zu sein; will sagen: Man sollte sich als Zuhörer den Klangfluten öffnen und eine eigene Interpretation leisten. Der Pianist gibt bei diesem Prozeß zwischen Produzent und Rezipient reichlich Vorgaben auf dem Flügel. Er sprüht nur so vor Ideen, die alle zusammengenommen ein heterogenes Ganzes ergeben, das in der neuerlichen Deutung durch das Publikum jeweils anderen Charakter erhält.Mit 26 Jahren hat Setvan Kovacs-Tickmayer einen erstaunlich hohen Grad an technischer Perfektion erreicht. Seine hervorragende Technik, sein Mut zu harten Kontrasten, die erstaunliche Transparenz einer Komposition fordern die vollkommene Konzentration des Zuhörers. Deshalb hätte sein Auftritt eigentlich gereicht, diesen Abend mit anspruchsvollem Jazz zu füllen...

Volker Schäffer


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The Sublime Barbarian Music

The music of the Piano Duo grew from little melodic fragments into the musical drama. Szabados György found a reasonable collaborator in personality of a composer & pianist Stevan K. Tickmayer. The interplay of this duo suggested a kind of "fate turning point" as when two wayfarers meet each other in a crossroad of the dusky past & uncertain future; to tell each other stories, to realize their experiences in present.

Horvàth Tamàs
"Ritmus" magazine, Budapest, March 1989


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SPES of Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer

... in a solo piano pieces we are confronted with the organic concord between the composed & improvised material which are based on a wide range using of piano by the author. This is a sounding world which is not limited on a common dimensions of a piano rhapsodizing; Tickmayer adds new possibilities to this instrument: the possibilities of preparations, the possibilities of liberating the piano from a single "keyboard reduction", the possibilities of using all the percussive & string potential of this instrument... "Spes" shows us an instrumental knowledge as well as an extraordinary richness of a sounding material ... Without any doubt Tickmayer is at the moment one of the most interesting Yugoslavian music innovator in the field of post radical improvisation...

Zoran Pistotnik
Delo (Ljubljana), 1988


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New Sounds Of Novi Sad

It seems that in the creativity of Tickmayer gained all the forgotten experiences of the Novi Sad avant guard of the '60-es. As a represent of the post modern generation he hasn't a maniacally order to create a "new music" ; he finds his tones everywhere around him : in the past as in the present, in folklore or in electronics, in acoustic instruments or in a self-made percussions, in different stylistic periods or genres. He finds a concord of the different regions of music. The music is for him always in the foreground, eruptive & narrative but strictly organized. Tickmayers's compositions have the spontaneity & immediacy of improvisation, while his improvisations structured along the lines of compositional architecture....

Dushan Mihalek
Dnevnik (Novi Sad), 1988