Thomas Ankersmit (Netherlands, 1979) is a musician and composer based in Berlin and Amsterdam. With highly acclaimed releases on Touch and PAN, and performances everywhere from contemporary art museums to major electronic music festivals, Ankersmit’s work is said by The Wire to be “densely striated and mercilessly dominating” and “raised above that of so many of his contemporaries”.
Since 2006 his main instrument, both live and in the studio, has been the Serge Modular synthesizer. Ankersmit has long-term collaborations with New York minimalist Phill Niblock and Italian composer Valerio Tricoli.
Acoustic phenomena such as sound reflections, infrasonic vibration, otoacoustic emissions, and highly directional projections of sound play a central role in his work. His music is also characterized by a deliberate misuse of the equipment, using feedback and disruptions to the signal, and the extremes of frequency and dynamics, to create visceral but finely detailed swarms of sound.
Ankersmit’s 2018 album for Shelter Press, Homage to Dick Raaijmakers, is an all-analogue electronic music composition inspired by the namesake legendary composer / electronic and tape music pioneer / multimedia artist’s music from the 1960s, and his texts on sound composition and his own music. Ankersmit, re-contextualizes Raaijmakers’ ideas about electric sound, composition, and spatial experience. Like Raaijmakers himself Ankersmit exclusively uses analogue devices, such as sine/pulse/random generators, modulators, filters, and especially feedback processes between them. Mastered and cut by Rashad Becker and pressed on 140g vinyl housed in reverse-board outer and inner sleeve.
Ankersmit has performed throughout Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, and Asia. His work has been presented at venues such as Hamburger Bahnhof and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Kunsthalle, Basel; Serralves Museum, Porto; MoMA PS1, New York; and at festivals for experimental and contemporary music all over the world. He has been a guest lecturer at universities such as Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, CalArts, and the Universität der Künste in Berlin.
Recent projects include commissioned works for CTM and Berghain (Berlin) based on infrasound and architectural resonance, and for GRM (Paris) based on the research of Pierre Schaeffer, as well as new live electronic music with Phill Niblock.
"Ankersmit constructs a musical world that feels alive and capable of going anywhere, and yet also manages to give the music a strong sense of structured purpose, a degree of compositional control unusual in this area of live performance. It is the fine balance between the sense of chaos that threatens to pull everything apart and the controlled formation of the music into clearly defined sections of differing intensities that raises the work above that of so many of Ankersmit’s contemporaries."
→ Richard Pinnell, The Wire
"Sound has never felt so granular and tangible and all around you. A hair-raising and overwhelming experience."
→ Antoine Richard, Tokafi
“Nobody sets standards like Thomas Ankersmit. With his analogue synth he plays the space as well the ears of the people occupying that space. Phantom sounds penetrate the skull in disturbing ways, perform dances once inside, and disappear or transform with a slight movement of the head. Practically everything else that evening paled in comparison to the intensity and focus of his performance.”
→ René van Peer, Gonzo Circus
"Thomas Ankersmit casts inner-ear illusions reminiscent of Maryanne Amacher's otoacoustic emissions. Densely striated and mercilessly dominating, Ankersmit's set is one of the weekend's highlights."
→ Matt Evans, The Wire
“Razor-sharp and incredibly detailed sounds appear in high-definition … Ankersmit constructs a seductive and highly unpredictable sound-poem in which space, non-space, or the illusion of one or the other, play a key role. Uncompromising and revolutionary, with the equipment on the torturing rack … Outright genius.”
→ Sven Schlijper, KindaMuzik