Australian composer Paul Schutze
was inspired by Brian Eno's ambient music, Miles Davis' jazz-rock and Pierre Henry's musique concrete for the one-hour collage of Deus Ex Machina (1989) and for the claustrophobic Topology Of A Phantom City, off New Maps Of Hell (1992),
perhaps the best formulation of his "chaotic minimalism",
a psychological puzzle of dissonance, trance, jazz, psychedelia, tribal frenzy, raga and ambient melodrama,
The Rapture Of Metals (1993), which bridged musique concrete and ambient music and exuded the same subterranean tension reverberating with urban neurosis,
the colossal collages of The Surgery Of Touch (1994),
and Apart (1995), an imposing summary of his techniques.
Paul Schütze (Melbourne, 1958), who began his career playing percussion in
the Fourth Stream Percussion Ensemble and with the experimental quartet of the
Laughing Hands, is an Australian electronic composer.
His early works
Ledge (Adhesive, 1980) and Dog Photos (Adhesive, 1981),
reissued as Ledge/Dog Photos (Extreme, 1991),
were devoted to cacophonous collages.
The one-hour suite Deus Ex Machina (Extreme, 1989) for
floating electronics, samples (of both voices and instruments) and percussions,
originally a soundtrack for a multimedia performance,
fully introduced the high-brow and sophisticated persona of Schutze.
Haunted by a sinister and obscure vision of the technological era,
the album was his philosophical as well as artistic manifesto.
and melodic fragments,
After an eerie overture, it indulges in gothic overtones (bells, ghostly electronic winds, distorted voices, desolate trumpet notes) until it explodes into a
Morton Subotnick-ian dissonant bacchanal.
A duet for pipe organ and jet planes leads to relaxed jazz-rock jamming.
The mood keeps changing rapidly, via an exotic ballet and a joyful trumpet fanfare and countless other events (more voices, more planes).
It ends on a note that is both magniloquent and desolate.
This collage did for ambient music what Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells
had done for progressive-rock.
The neo-ambient strategy of this piece straddled the border between
Brian Eno's ambient music,
Miles Davis's jazz-rock and
Pierre Henry's musique concrete.
That program continued with the subtle futuristic jazz of
The Annihilating Angel (Extreme, 1990),
Jon Hassell's pan-ethnic and urban spirit
into a graver, emphatic and even apocalyptic context.
Cities Of The Plain collects ethnic references to evoke the vision
of imaginary lands. Schütze
is not particularly original in mixing ethnic
instruments and electronic sounds, but a more intense and dramatic take on
the same idea, The Falls, yields far more rewarding results: the ethnic
sources are wild and chaotic, the electronic sounds are ominous.
The Torture Garden further dilutes the ethnic sounds, selecting
the timbres that best resonate with the collective primitive, and then spreads
a layer of drones over the landscape.
Reign Of Ashes ups the ante by mixing natural sounds and by introducing
a funky rhythm. A thick orchestral texture and undulating dissonances add
a tragic tone to the dance.
The theme of the "futuristic cafe`" continues with Dead Roads,
a nocturnal trumpet exhaling lazy jazzy melodies.
The idea gets completely abstracted in Cities Of The Red Night, an
elegant and lugubrious fanfare in which exoticism, funk, jazz and electronics
coexist without either prevailing, as if Weather Report, Herbie Hancock,
Soft Machine and Klaus Schulze jammed together.
Unfortunately, too many of these vignettes are short and predictable.
is still in his formative stage.
The Laughing Hands later released Nights (Rash, 1991) and
The Welders Bible (Adhesive, 1991).
The Luxury Of Horns (Rash, 1991) was credited to Invisible College.
(Melbourne, 1958) è un compositore elettronico dell'Australia che
iniziò la sua carriera
suonando percussioni nel Fourth Stream Percussion Ensemble e nel quartetto sperimentale dei Laughing Hands, i cui
Ledge (Adhesive, 1980) e Dog Photos (Adhesive, 1981),
ristampati come Ledge/Dog Photos (Extreme, 1991),
contengono qualli che sono fondamentalmente dei collage cacofonici.
La suite di un'ora Deus Ex Machina (Extreme, 1989), composta di
electronica, campionamenti e frammenti melodici,
originariamente a corredo di una performance multimediale, mise in
luce l'individualità colta e forbita di Schütze
, che a quel punto iniziò a disegnare una
strategia al confine fra Miles Davis, Brian Eno e Jon Hassell.
Il disco e` anche offuscato da una torbida e sinistra visione dell'evo
tecnologico. E` il suo manifesto sia artistico sia filosofico.
Un risultato temporaneo di questo programma fu il subdolo jazz futurista di
The Annihilating Angel (Extreme, 1990),
che lascia intravedere lo spirito panetnico e urbano del tardo
Jon Hassell in un contesto
più enfatico, e talvolta addirittura apocalittico.
I Laughing Hands hanno poi pubblicato Nights (Rash, 1991) e
The Welders Bible (Adhesive, 1991).
A nome Invisible College e` uscito The Luxury Of Horns (Rash, 1991).
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Schütze perviene a una formulazione matura del suo "minimalismo
caotico" con New Maps Of Hell (Extreme, 1992 - Big Cat, 1996), ispirato
al senso di claustrofobia generato dal caos urbano.
La suite Topology Of A Phantom City, in particolare, si
trascina all'insegna di frasi jazz d'organo, di chitarra e di trombone distese con nonchalanche su un
violento e sincopato incalzare delle percussioni. Doubts About Waking, è scossa da
turbolenze tribali, con gli interventi degli strumenti che si fanno sempre più dissonanti fino
all'infernale baraonda finale. Su un versante più sereno si snoda invece la trance leggera e
dinoccolata di Velvet Horizon, più raga-psichedelica che ambientale. Vertice drammatico
dell'opera è A Soul Reports, la cui pasta timbrica, priva di ritmo, sembra aver raffinato
tutte le tragedie dell'umanità, attraverso foschi sibili e rimbombi, pause tracolme di suspance e
battiti irregolari di un vicino oltretomba.
The Rapture Of Metals (SDV, 1993), also known as
New Maps Of Hell II (Big Cat, 1997), was the natural continuation of
the chaotic-minimalist program of New Maps Of Hell. It exudes
the same subterranean tension, that reverberates with urban neurosis,
athough this time it originates from structures that are much colder and
sinister, almost gothic.
The Rapture Of Concealment is all about subliminal beats and noises,
like a blurred version of industrial music. The percussions test a vast
primitive soundscape scoured by agonizing winds.
Rapture Of The Drowning is even more lugubrious: the beats have
liquefied into anemic and colorless reverbs, that can't find enough strength
to become full-fledged drones. This "rapture" resembles a paralysis due to
fear. The calmer and warmer ambience of The Rapture Of Ornament lulls
the listener into the rarified jungle of The Rapture Of Metals, a
tinkling gamelan-like piece. The quiet, hypnotic loop of
Rapture Of The Skin, reminiscent of both ragas and psychedelic music.
The longest track, Sites Of Rapture On The Lungs Of God (21 minutes),
is a solemn stasis of cosmic breaths, a sequence of muted drones that evoke
tiny signs of life within eternal silence.
This new map of hell is
one of the most subtle works of musique concrete of all times.
Regard (Multimood, 1991) collects film music.
The Surgery Of Touch (Extreme, 1994) contains three colossal tracks
that deliver some of the most violent music of his career.
The 24-minute electronic nightmare of Tears is cosmic music filled
with angst and terror. Klaus Schulze's was
cosmic music of the psychedelic age, when humans looked to the skies,
whereas Tears is cosmic music in the age of information science,
when computers dialogue with the skies. Towards the end, percussions and
vocal samples bring back the vision to Earth in an emotional way, linking
the universe and the human condition, a link which finally gives meaning
to the unbearable tension.
Distorted electronics and deformed voices seem tear apart the fabric of
the universe in Sweat, but the "concrete" collage slowly fades away
in a long looping coda.
The 26-minute Blood brings the nightmare to its emotional apex, as
chaotic waves of music and noise follow each other, feeding on each other
and continuously rearranging themselves. After about ten minutes, they
begin a disintegration process that feels like a descent into a black hole.
More Beautiful Human Life (Apollo, 1994), released under the moniker
Uzect Plaush, was Schütze
's foray into ambient techno.
Apart (Virgin, 1995) is a double album that provides a temporary
summary of his career.
Its centerpiece, the three-movement suite Sleep, is a much darker, sinister, cryptic work. It sounds like the soundtrack for a descent into hell, not just a survey of the urban landscape.
The kinematics of Vertical Memory (Beyond, 1995), credited to Seed,
attempts to replace images with sounds.
Fell (7 Degree, 1995) is a collaboration with Andrew Hulme (O Yuki Conjugate).
The Ulm Concert (7 Degrees, 1997) is a collaboration with Simon Hopkins.
Narratives (Manifold, 1996) is a collaboration with Voice Of Eye and Robert Rich, each of which
pens a piece inspired by a literary work.
Driftworks (Big Cat, 1997) is a four-CD collaboration with Pauline Oliveros and others: Stateless is Schütze
's disc and sounds indulgent at best.
Site Anubis (Big Cat, 1996) inaugurated a new trilogy, dedicated to architectural wonders. The suite was composed by Schutze but played by a "virtual"
ensemble, named Phantom City: Bill Laswell on bass, Lol Coxhill on saxophone,
Julian Priester on trumpet and Alex Blues on clarinet,
Dirk Wachtelaer on percussion, Raoul Bjorkenheim on guitar. They never met,
but simply improvised over Schutze's electronic score. The result was a solemn
form of cosmic jazz.
Raoul Bjorkenheim's guitar and Dirk Wachtelaer's drums
steal the show in the twelve-minute jazz-rock workout Future Nights,
molding a form of dreamy jazz reminiscent of
Peter Green's instrumental album.
The rhythmic foundation is disproportionate for the duel of deformed horns in
The Big God Blows In, but the aim is similar.
There is no instrument that stands out in Blue Like Petrol, just
a convoluted sense of restlessness.
The standout is probably the feverish twelve-minute orgy Eight Legs Out Of Limbo, with Lol Coxhill's saxophone and Julian Priester's trombone submerged
by a volley of dissonant sounds.
But mostly this is a disappointing "supergroup" that is not cohesive enough
to deliver a unified aesthetics, or any aesthetics at all.
Eventually, Phantom City became a real band, as documented by the
live Shiva Recoil (Virgin, 1997), with Toshinori Kondo's trumpet
Following solo albums refined his avantgarde music by introducing subtle destabilizing elements, such as ethnic instruments, jazz and spoken texts.
Abysmal Evenings (Virgin, 1996) concocted a mixture of ambient world-music
a` la Jon Hassell, cosmic jazz a` la Site Anubis and his own old
urban ambience (Bob Neil on trumpet, Robert Hampson (Main) on guitar, and Andrew Hulme),
Nine Songs From The Garden Of Welcome Lies (Tone Casualties, 1997) employed organs instead of synthesizers to improvise soundscapes halfway between Monet's abstract impressionism and Tibetan mantras.
Green Evil (Tone Casualties, 1998) collects rarities and unreleased
material of the last 14 years.
Second Site (Virgin, 1997) is a colossal undertaking for electronics,
spoken-word and percussion, that stands as a
most daring testament to his sonic research.
With Third Site (Rykodisc, 1999) Schütze
achieved a form of very quiet
chamber world-music, with narrating voice, dedicated to architectural works.
He started scoring film soundtracks with The Sealer and continued on
Isabelle Eberhardt - The Oblivion Seeker (SDV, 1994),
Assault on Firebase Gloria, Driving Force,
Earth Bound, The Valley.
The Gazing Engine (1999)
Plasma Falls (2002)
Partial Site (2002)
Writing On Water (Gasometer Oberhausen, 2002)
The six-CD box-set Sound Paintings (Tone Casualties, 1998) includes Deus Ex Machina, Regard, Isabelle Eberhardt, The Annihilating Angel, The Surgery Of Touch and Green Evil.
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