One of the drawbacks with recommending Paul Schütze‘s music lately has been a lack of availability, with most of his CDs being out of print. That changes this month with his back catalogue returning via iTunes sporting a range of impressive new artwork (above) created by Mr Schütze himself.
Schütze’s electronic music stood out for me in the mid-Nineties for a number of reasons: firstly, and most obviously, it wasn’t always tied to the rigid metronomic pulse which governed the rest of the dance world. There were 4/4 beats at times—and he even had an album on Belgian dance label Apollo under the anagrammatical pseudonym Uzect Plausch—but his music was equally subject to unusual time-signatures with chiming timbres borrowed from gamelan orchestras.
Those timbres and their attendant tropical atmospheres were a second point of distinction. Like Jon Hassell, to whom he pays homage on Stateless (1997), there’s an acknowledgement of non-Western music without any falling into pastiche. This realises one aspect of Hassell’s Fourth World concept, whereby a meeting of the First World and the Third World creates an exclusive temporary zone that nonetheless can’t exist without the contribution of either party.
A third distinction would require a detailing of Schütze’s notable collaborators—Bill Laswell and Raoul Björkenheim among them—and his inventive track titles, many of which sound like Surrealist paintings. But describing music is always a poor thing compared to experiencing it. If you want a place to start, I’d recommend New Maps of Hell II: The Rapture of Metals (1993; reissued 1996) or Abysmal Evenings (1996), two constant favourites.