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Deus Ex Machina

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Album Review

Although Schütze had already made a name for himself in his native Australia as a member of the group Laughing Hands, and was a successful film composer, this exhibition soundtrack is his first solo release. And all things considered, it's a remarkably mature and sophisticated piece of work, which uses a variety of sampled sounds and voices within musical contexts as a means of exploring psychological expectations and mental space. What Schütze has done, in effect, is to create a film score for an imaginary film, and with his prior soundtrack experience, he's not at a loss for ideas. As Schütze indicates in his thoughtful notes, the musical backgrounds which he creates here are essentially static, and they serve as a foundation of natural and man-made sonic events (rain, dripping water, thunder, sirens, jet engines, squealing brakes, church bells), and mysterious narratives in either French or Italian, which are meant to stimulate the imagination without yielding any concrete meaning. (Schütze's assumption was that most Australians would have no working knowledge of these languages, and the same should hold true for the majority North American audience.) Of course, it's one thing for Schütze to say, modestly, that his musical backgrounds are "static," but they are also rich, dense, haunting and extremely intricate, ranging from riff-oriented funk to brooding orchestral strings. And unlike many other ambient composer/musicians who never get much beyond synthesizer drones, Schütze actually uses contrapuntal lines and multiple instrumental voices with considerable expertise. Instrumentation is not always obvious, but Schütze's main instrument is clearly the synthesizer, augmented by bass and percussion. The static sequences follow one another (in cinematic fashion), as if the director is moving from one scene to another, and if you punch the repeat button on your CD player, you can conjure up various images for the music and have a very entertaining movie playing in your head for hours.


Born: 1958 in Australia

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Australian-born composer and producer Paul Schütze is among the most focused and prolific artists of the contemporary experimental electronic scene. Releasing album after album of sprawling, icy, often difficult ambient and electro-acoustic music, Schütze's work has most often been grouped with post-industrial ambient/isolationist artists such as Lull, Main, and Thomas Köner. While the depth of detail and breadth of sound obtained in Schütze's work already confounds that association, albums such...
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Deus Ex Machina, Paul Schütze
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