Patrick Pulsinger seems uniquely primed to solve it, though. He's just as identified with his work as a producer for other acts as he is with his own artist albums. No ego there. He's also pretty good in that producer's role. Bringing together different talents to craft songs that feel similar enough to work as an album? No problem. And yet here we are with Impassive Skies, yet another collaboration-heavy album that justifies download culture, encouraging listeners to take what they like and leave the rest.
It seems funny to say for a "serious artist" like Pulsinger, but when you have tracks with an experimental guitarist, a New York techno legend and an Austrian New Waver, the writing is on the wall. The sound palette, as is almost always the case for Pulsinger, is analogue. But warmth and presence doesn't make for coherence. Impassive Skies is try-before-you-buy the entire way through, whether it be in the electro pop lyrical disaster of "A to Z," G. Rizo's wonderful vocal performance on the suitably restrained "Rise and Fall" or Franz Hautzinger's trumpet cutting through the true-to-title "Grey Gardens" of the promising opener.
Pulsinger seems all too happy to showcase his different sides on Impassive Skies, which is fine. But some of the production choices seem odd, especially the strange castration of Elektro Guzzi's powerful rhythm section on "Thong" and the inclusion of abstract solo venture "Cache Wash," which has little connection to the rest of the album.
The most lasting work on Impassive Skies is with Austrian guitarist Fennesz. "Future Back" has a strong rhythm, but the focus is on the interplay between Martin Knorz's keys and Fennesz's guitar, leaving sequencers behind for what sounds like real improvisation. The title track, meanwhile, sinks deeply into its world of distorted strings and pensive grand piano. It'd be interesting to hear more of this trio together. Just hope they call it Patrick Pulsinger & Fennesz & Martin Knorz, rather than leaving someone to merely feature.
Thu / 15 Jul 2010
01. Grey Gardens feat. Franz Hautzinger
02. Rise and Fall feat. G Rizo
03. Future Back feat. Fennesz
04. Cache Wash
05. A to Z feat. Teresa Rotschopf
06. Thong feat. Elektro Guzzi
07. Blame It feat. Abe Duque
08. Impassive Skies feat. Fennesz