The Sky Torn Apart by Paul Schütze

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Has it really been sixteen long years since we’ve had a solo record from the prolific Australian maestro Paul Schütze? It seems implausible, though understandable as he’s an in-demand multidisciplinary artist who also works within the scope of sensory/olfaction topics, visual and other fine art media. The Sky Torn Apart is on pre-order now (due in April) in CD format as well as digital download through Bandcamp, all through the well-curated Italian label, Glacial Movements.

The sky tore apart and the sun curdled like a diseased eye.
Below, where once a continent of ice spanned the horizon,
there lay nothing but a vast expanding mirror, implacable and silent.
For days, clouds of flying creatures scoured it’s surface for purchase
before falling exhausted into their own reflections. – Paul Schütze

At just under an hour the single track opens with a hint of low gong, distant drone and fidgety micro-electronics. It’s a bit like walking into a Japanese garden after visiting hours, there’s a path, it’s dark and mysterious, and it seems endless. This record harkens back to the glory days of post-ambient (circa the early 90’s) while maintaining a fine-line contemporary score-like feel. It’s watery and wide, thick like fog, with an elusive windy backdrop. The disc sounds as if he put a contact mic on the wings of an airplane and used a sound scrim to grate away bits, and then smoothed everything in the studio. In other words, The Sky Torn Apart has a live, in-situ sensibility. With Clive Bell on mutant shakuhachi, which is a Japanese wind instrument and not a mushroom, the breath is omni-present throughout. The recording subtly shifts from center to right and then to left and back again in time, as the oceanic sounds overlap in robust yet restrained ambiance.

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The mood is a poker-faced stare into a starless night with a certain seaworthiness, much an extension to previous elongated sonic tales by Schütze. Dark mist emanates, a flat-line drone changes shape and structure, a distant boom trails closer to the foreground. When put into another light, after about a half hour an undulating wave manifests like a giant sea-monster rearing its head over the inky surface. In the end the tiny percussive sounds are like tropical tweets and calls, echoing into the sunrise. Otherwise this is quite dark, but never dreary, totally enigmatic. A welcome return

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