May 14, 2012
While most of Flemish-Belgian composer WIM MERTENS’ (born 1953) work features piano or classical guitar, some of his compositions utilize pinball machines, a group of thirteen clarinets, or Mertens’ own distinctive countertenor voice. It’s that voice that haunts many of his best works, singing in a lyrical language that Mertens devised. His minimal compositions have found their way into the 1987 Peter Greenaway film The Belly of an Architect and the 1988 film Shadow Man; he’s also the author of American Minimal Music, an examination of composers like Philip Glass, Terry Riley, and LaMonte Young; and he’s got over 50 albums under his belt. One of his most iconic tracks is “Struggle for Pleasure,” a stirring blend of strings and piano that makes you feel that your mind is blossoming open like a heavy flower. The song also inspired the influential electronica track “Café Del Mar”, voted number one in Pete Tong’s Top 20 Dance Tracks of the last 20 years. Mertens even gets a shout out in a recent James Bond novel, though we imagine the movie studios won’t be calling on him to develop an opening theme any time soon. More’s the pity: Mertens is one of the best composers you’ve never heard.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Ed Ricketts and George Lucas.
READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Blank Generation (1944-53) and the Original Generation X (1954-63).