Mertens studied social and political science at the University of Leuven (graduating in 1975) and musicology at Ghent University; he also studied music theory and piano at the Royal Conservatories of Gent and Brussels.
In 1978, he became a producer at the then BRT (Belgian Radio and Television). For Radio 2 (Radio Brabant) he produced concerts by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Meredith Monk, Urban Sax, and others, and hosted a program called Funky Town together with Gust De Meyer (with whom he recorded the experimental CD For Amusement Only).
Known primarily as a composer since the late 1970s, Mertens is best known for his opus "Struggle for Pleasure". He is also well known for his piece "Maximizing the Audience", which was composed for Jan Fabre's play The Power of Theatrical Madness, which premiered in 1984 in Venice, Italy.
Mertens' style, while continually evolving during the course of his prolific output, touches veins of minimalist, ambient and avant-garde, usually, however, preserving a melodic fundament to the forays that he makes into the worlds that he is exploring.
Mertens' music was used in the 1987 Peter Greenaway film The Belly of an Architect, along with that of Glenn Branca.
Mertens also recorded under the name "Soft Verdict", and is the author of American Minimal Music, which looks at the school of American repetitive music.
In March 1998 Mertens became the Cultural Ambassador of Flanders.
Wim Mertens Discography
- 29 Vocals
- 59 Instruments & Performance
- 136 Writing & Arrangement
- 84 Production
- 5 Visual
- 1 Acting, Literary & Spoken