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New Maps of Hell

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Album Review

Thematically and psychologically similar to The Annihilating Angel (even to the apocalyptic religious imagery of the titles), this CD occasionally looks ahead to Schütze's later work as leader of Phantom City. The title of the CD's longest track is in fact "Topology of a Phantom City," and on this piece, there are strong echoes of the wild electric funk of Miles Davis circa 1975, with strong, groove-oriented percussion supporting the broad smears of De Haan's trombone, and Schütze doing some remarkably strange things with his keyboards, producing unearthly (hellish?) and tormented electronic squeals, howls and groans over the heavy, sinister percussion. Several subsequent tracks have a rhythmic foundation, but most are languid and dreamlike, with a dissonant, uneasy quality, often tinged with melancholy, that pushes them toward the realm of nightmare. The music is hauntingly beautiful but without resolution; it projects a feeling of claustrophobia and entrapment, as if there is no escape from the reality which it represents. The final track, "A Soul Reports," simply drifts off into a nothingness of murmurs, whispers, cavernous echoes, muted gongs and icy drones. Schütze enhances the disquieting atmosphere with an impressive background collection of skillfully integrated sound samples — guttural and/or demented voices, sounds of thunder or earthquake rumbling, dripping water and jets of steam. Call it what you will — ambient, industrial, gothic funk (it is all of these and more) — New Maps of Hell is music of great subtlety and power.


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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New Maps of Hell, Paul Schütze
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