Although his first instrument was a drum kit, Schmidt became fascinated with the possibilities of analog electronics early on, trading his set for a drum machine and borrowing a four-track and some keyboards from friends. His earliest tracks were dance music-focused -- primarily hardcore techno, acid, and trance -- but by the mid-'90s his sound had departed from the monochromaticism of typical dancefloor fare into dense, complex, multi-layered sound constructions not easily reducible to any one genre. Incorporating elements of techno, acid, ambient, jazz, funk, electro, '60 exotica, and psychedelic rock, Schmidt's current work, though highly rhythmic, is hardly classifiable as dance music at all, lying at the intersection of a sort of future-anterior auteurism and tongue-in-cheek experimentalism unique in contemporary electronica. Along with his own work, he has also, with less frequency, given his hand to remixing, working over tracks from the likes of Prong, Pankow, the Swamp Zombies, Resistance D, and others.
Although prolific since his first singles as I, Atomu Shinzo, Bi-Face, and Mike McCoy, Atom Heart began stepping up his production in the early to mid-'90s in association with the noted trance and ambient label Fax, also based in Frankfurt. Through a number of solo and collaborative outings with Tetsu Inoue and label head Pete Namlook, Schmidt helped to formulate the melodic hard trance and techno sounds associated with the Frankfurt scene, and also had the opportunity to dabble in other forms of electronic experimentation, particularly ambient (to which Fax almost wholly shifted its focus). He released a handful of Fax titles during this period -- including Orange, Datacide, Softcore, and Coeur Atomique -- before Namlook established the Rather Interesting label as a subsidiary of Fax dedicated to Atom Heart-related projects. Although he continues to release material under other names as well (most notably as Lassigue Bendthaus and the Lisa Carbon Trio), his focus remained on Rather Interesting, releasing a somewhat bewildering (given the consistent quality) CD every month and forging a sophisticated, singular aesthetic. Although each title was limited to a 1,000-copy pressing, many of them are among the most accomplished, original examples of post-techno experimental electronic music available, utilizing complex split-channel effects and integrated melodic and rhythmic shifts with an iterative, almost mathematical (though never simply derived) eclecticism.
During 1999 and 2000, Schmidt earned a higher profile among American listeners with the release of several projects, beginning with Flanger's Templates (recorded with Bernd Friedman of Nonplace Urban Field) on the Ninja Tune sublabel Ntone. In 2000, two covers albums -- Pop Artificielle as lb and El Baile Aleman as Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto -- gained a comparatively wide release. The former, distributed through Shadow, featured synth pop covers of pop hits including Donovan's "Sunshine Superman" and David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes"; the latter, an Emperor Norton release, focused on Kraftwerk songs performed by Heart's Latin alias, Señor Coconut. He then released his first album under his Dos Tracks moniker the following year, but it wasn't available outside of his website until 2002.
Two years later, he delivered his own Los Negritos/Speed-Merengue Mega-Mix, 2005, after which he toured with Señor Coconut, promoting the project's 2006 album, Yellow Fever! He returned to his work as Atom™ for a bevy of albums including 2009's Liedgut, 2011's Winterreise, and 2012's Grand Blue. Away from his own efforts, he remixed tracks for such stylistically diverse artists as Air, Depeche Mode, Cesária Évora, Towa Tei, Moreno Veloso, Merzbow, and others. He also joined Vicente Sanfuentes in the Surtek Collective, and collaborated on works with Japanese composer Masaki Sakamoto. A long-gestating album, HD, appeared on Raster-Noton in 2013. He then paired with Marc Behrens for 2014's Bauteile. The extended works Texturen I and Texturen II appeared on Forced Exposure in 2015 and 2016. A year later, he collaborated with singer Lisokot on the album Walzerzyklus. ~ Sean Cooper, Rovi
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