German-born musician Irmin Schmidt began his musical career studying under modern composers Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti, and John Cage before ditching classical concepts to help begin the revolutionary experimental rock act Can in 1968.
Schmidt served as keyboardist, organist, and synth player for the band and remained with them until their dissolution in 1979. To make a living after Can, he composed and recorded music for film and television, often aided by other ex-Can players and usually releasing his own music on the Spoon label (in association with Mute Records). Several volumes of the Filmmusik series were released throughout the '80s, as well as 1981's playful Toy Planet (in collaboration with Bruno Spoerri) and 1987's loungey Musk at Dusk.
In 1986 Schmidt reunited with the other members of his former band for the album Rite Time (which was released in 1989), as well as participating in a second reunion in 1991 to record a track for the Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World. Impossible Holidays, Schmidt's second non-soundtrack solo album, was also released in 1991. Throughout the '90s and 2000s, Schmidt focused on scoring for television and film and was commissioned to compose a three-act opera based on Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy. He released Masters of Confusion, a drum'n'bass-leaning album with producer Kumo (Jono Podmore), in 2001; the two collaborated for a further album, Axolotl Eyes, in 2008. In 2013, Villa Wunderbar, a lengthy compilation of Schmidt's music, was released on Spoon. Two years later, the label released Electro Violet, a comprehensive 12-CD box set of Schmidt's solo and collaborative albums, including six volumes of Filmmusik Anthology. In 2018, he released 5 Klavierstücke, an album of five spontaneously recorded solo piano pieces. Recorded and produced by Gareth Jones in France on Schmidt's two grand pianos. He partly prepared his Pleyel piano, in the manner Cage taught him, while the other piano – a 100-year-old Steinway -- remained unprepared. Several pieces were recorded in one session on the prepared piano, while others contain recordings from both. All ambient sounds were recorded onsite around the studio. There are corrections or overdubs. Schmidt claimed his M.O. for the recording -- a precursor to several live retrospectives in the coming year -- as "formed from an emotional memory in which Schubert, Cage, Japan's gagaku music, and Can are equally present." ~ Fred Thomas