Australian electronic composer Paul Schütze inhabits the very nether realms of sound. It's too easy to slap the words "dark ambient" on his music, yet the label fits so well. Schütze's dim foundations serve as a framework within which the faintest illumination can serve as brilliant contrast. In much of his recorded work, he achieves texture by combining multiple layers of drones, exotic percussion, thick overtones, and surreal animal noises or human vocals. His particular interest in soundtracks has often reflected itself in a dramatic visual impact.
On Nine Songs, Schütze steps away from the carefully produced multi-layered textures that characterize most of his recorded work. These nine improvisations make use of simple overdubs to combine church organ with various resonant percussion instruments. Reflecting Schütze's background in improvised music, this set has an unusually organic appeal. (Ironically, much of his studio work also has an improvisational bent, but he only rarely steps out of the forest to give us a glimpse of the trees.) Overall, the pace on Nine Songs is glacial: the organ playing is legato, and the percussion emphasizes ringing metallic objects. While simple thematic structure binds together much of the melodic work, it's Schütze's careful and infrequent use of dissonance that reinforces his signature sound. On Nine Songs, thick, full-bodied organ resonance combines with floating, ethereal bells, gongs, and other percussion instruments to create an atmospheric glow. Again, it's the sheer darkness of the work that allows scattered appearances of dim refracted light to make such a dramatic statement.
Just don't expect this music to swing, and be aware that it's anything but bluesy. The primary aspect that defines Nine Songs is the common element of improvisation. This record offers a welcome glimpse into a visionary musical mind at work, plumbing the depths of sound in order to create ephemeral sonic sculptures that melt away just as soon as they form.