Cyclic Selects: Paul Schütze


London based Australian experimental / industrial / ambient artist Paul Schütze has worked for over forty years as a musician, photographer, visual artist and perfumer. He has exhibited at institutions such as the Hayward Gallery, the V&A and Madrid’s Arco, held residencies at the Cité des Arts in Paris and has works in collections worldwide. He has collaborated with musicians from Jah Wobble to Toshinori Kondo, from Bill Laswell to David Toop, and worked both as a film score composer and music critic. At the age of 21, he co-formed the Australian experimental industrial band Laughing Hands, and in 1987 he won an AFI award for best score for his first feature The Tale Of Ruby Rose. He literally does it all. In 2012 he even began releasing perfume. He has released upwards of 30 albums and his latest release The Second Law is a remastered career retrospective released by UK label Phantom Limb, which features tracks from his 1990 album The Annihilating Angel, 1991’s Regard: Music by Film and 1993’s The Rapture of Metals amongst others. With such a wide range of interests and a restless artistic spirit we were fascinated to hear about the music that moves him.

Robert Ashley – Automatic Writing (Lovely Music, Ltd.)
Robert Ashley has been a huge influence on my work. It was his operas that prompted me to use spoken vocals on Second and Third Site respectively. This early work rustles and whispers at the edges of coherence in a way that I still find mesmerising nearly thirty years after I first heard it.

Weather Report – Nubian Sundance from Mysterious Traveller (Columbia)
I don’t think there is a single rhythmic piece I’ve ever made into which the ghost of this playing hasn’t slipped. Playing so exuberant and precise that individual timbres transmute in their unison producing sounds none of the instruments could make alone. If I had to pick a piece of music that quintessentially expresses irrepressible joy this would be it.

Jon Hassell – Aka Dabari Java (Editions EG)
Jon was, I think, one of the most important solo instrumental voices of the last century. Despite being atypical of his output in its minimalism and largely beat-free structures, this has always felt like the most distilled expression of his musical language. He made what were, at the time, cutting edge digital tools sound organic and almost supernatural. He always bent the tools to his will, never falling into the trap of so many musicians: of allowing the technology to play them. Jon built a sonic universe so distinct and personal that it will continue to unpack itself decades after his death.

Can – Ege Bamyasi (United Artists Records)
The first Can album I bought. I was fourteen and found it inexplicably in the small record section of Brashes in Springvale. It’s a masterclass in rhythmic brilliance owing as much to Jazz and Middle Eastern music as it does to Stockhausen. Still sounds like it was recorded yesterday.

Wendy Carlos/ Sonic Seasonings from Nicolás López Pérez on Vimeo.

Wendy Carlos – Summer from Sonic Seasonings (Columbia)
For me, if Wendy Carlos had produced nothing else this cements her reputation as one of the greats. A sonic evocation of intense sensory specificity, it is Summer when this is playing. Transcendent.

Holger Czukay and Rolf Dammers – Canaxis (Spoon Records)
Released twelve years before Eno and Burne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and ten years before Czukay’s own album Movies this work really can claim to have pioneered the sampling of ethnographic recordings and done it in a way I don’t think has ever been equalled. Rather than glib juxtaposition or PoMo pastiche Canaxis melded the artist’s original material and the found-sound recordings into something far more than the sum of its parts. Acute sensitivity to and understanding of the musicality of the purloined materials makes this a perfect micro genre all its own.

Meshuggah – Nothing (Nuclear Blast)
Every Meshuggah album is notable but this one I play perhaps more than any other. Sonic architecture of the Brutalist or even Metabolist school, the unique gestalt this band have built translates from these astonishing compositions to live performances of unrivalled brilliance. Many electronic composers throw the word phenomenological around, but Meshuggah own it.

Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love Love (ECM Records)
I’ve probably offered this example hundreds of times in interviews over the years, but it still remains one of the most potent influences on my own work. The unsettled lyricism of the writing and the vivid world-building of the arrangements is timeless. It also has one of the three best bass lines of all time.

Miles Davis – In a Silent Way (Columbia)
I’d love to say you could hear the influence of this in my work but it’s far beyond anything I could aspire to, I’ll just say it’s an indispensable companion.

Rolf Julius – Music For An Almost Empty Space (Edition VIII) from Small Music (Self-Released)
Julius created sonic ecosystems of astonishing elegance and detail. While they work as stereo recordings, the performance/installation of each work usually involved multiple home-made sound sources scattered about the space. This produced myriad reflected sonic images and some very trippy illusions. I once encountered one of his pieces installed in a very old church in Berlin. The ceiling was a perfect hemispherical dome flanked at the compass points by four smaller quarter spheres. Julius had suspended small, naked speakers from fine wires, facing up into the domes. The shimmering geometry of sound that rained down into the space, given from and proportion by the architecture reflecting it was achingly beautiful.

The Second Law is released via Phantom Limb. You can find it here.


About Author

Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.