Patrick Pulsinger Patrick PulsingerImpassive Skies
Not long ago, good-guy Patrick Pulsinger stuck his nose into the production credits of the magnificent debut of Elektro Guzzi, the amazing Austrian trio that can play minimal techno in real time and with acoustic instruments. That was already a serious warning. “Impassive Skies” is the advent, the winning of the grand prize, the brass ring. As if he were the Paul the Octopus doing Pilates, the techno-master from Wissenfels has stretched out his tentacles in a latest electronic contortion that places him once again among the crème de la crème of the select group of “veteran producers who have known how to stay on the cutting edge in spite of new generations”; few people can boast, as he can, of having spent seventeen years pulling strings in techno without ever being far from the top — we’re talking about a survivor with elegance to spare.
With “Impassive Skies”, Pulsinger revitalises his style book by returning to the days of The Private Lightning Six, the band with techno-jazz inclinations that has already used the combination that returns to the surface here: organic instruments and electronic dance textures divided into multiple disguises, played with intelligence and artificial craftsmanship. I say craftsmanship because the beat boxes and keyboards haven’t been sequenced by computer — they are played by hand, and fit into the instrumental flow without thinking too much about it, live, like real musicians do it. The story is funny: Pulsinger manages to strip his productions of the mathematical coldness of software, and he gives warmth to the brew, a feeling of live performance, that’s a real pleasure for the ears. Starting from this premise, PP makes an impeccable show of electronic versatility: with techno as his fundamental credo, the founder of Cheap Records allows himself trippy experimentation with gothic, electrified ambient accompanied by the morphine addict guitars of Christian Fennesz ( “Impassive Skies”) at the same time that he renders his special homage to minimal in the company of Elektro Guzzi’s instruments. In other words, he makes the genre into a disturbing soundtrack for a film full of spies and evil robots. As is normal, when you have to get out on the floor, our friend also works with exquisite professionalism and puts on his sequined boots for “Rise and Fall,” a techno acid pop after-hours moment, with the voice of G. Rizo, and he fires pitiless bursts of future disco into people’s faces, with the aid of New York legend Abe Duque and a monstrous vocoder that could make even a deaf baby cry.
As has been made clear, collaborations are another weighty ingredient in “Impassive Skies”. Where others would have limited themselves to doing their bit with the inevitable featured artist, Pulsinger manages to get the most out of every collaborator. The winds of Franz Hautzinger, for example, turn out to be absolutely necessary in cuts like “Grey Gardens”, a sort of Detroit marsh with outbursts of emo bossa jazz courtesy of the Martian jazz trumpeter. The best duo moments as far as I am concerned are those with Fennesz. If in the aforementioned “Impassive Skies” they both place their bets on ambient, in “Future Back” the give it more nerve, to create a sound somewhere between Detroit techno, nu-jazz, and Berlin party hypnosis. Certainly the weakest flank among the featured artists is the combination with Teresa Rotschopf, the woman from Bunny Lake. It’s not that the songbird doesn’t have a sensual voice, heaven forbid, but “A to Z” is a predictable, overbearing collaboration: that new-wave Kraftwerk sound forces me to change the song (as much as I hate to). That is the only blemish, in any case, on another lesson in studio elegance, another triumph for a producer in for the long haul, who never runs out of inspiration or curiosity. Patrick Pulsinger? From now on, I’m going to call him Patrick Pulitzer. Óscar Broc