Part full new solo release, part collaboration, Impassive Skies finds Patrick Pulsinger working with his not-sequenced-but-performed drum patterns and synths to create an enjoyable and at times remarkable collection of songs. The appearance of Fennesz might cause the most excitement among many circles; the Austrian performer appears not once but twice on the album's two longest tracks, "Future Back" and the title track. On the former his musical presence is almost ghostly, appearing to be only distant hums and whirls amid an understated but not downtempo arrangement from Pulsinger and keyboardist Martin Knorz, though hearing his guitar fully appear six minutes in is a pleasant, sudden shock. In contrast, "Impassive Skies" seems more clearly a Fennesz song, scrapes of feedback and distant echoes playing out over Knorz's piano part with increasingly detailed (and less ominous) beats appearing halfway through its length. But hearing where Pulsinger and others go track for track is not so easily summarized -- thus the opening "Grey Gardens," done with trumpeter Franz Hautzinger, starts with what sounds like a clipped horn loop from the distant 1950s before pausing and launching into a sleek, shimmering composition fully aimed at the dancefloor. It's a familiar enough approach given Pulsinger's music, but there's a special quality in its rough, relentless beats set against the distant but always present horn performance wafting through the mix. The vocal collaborations like "A to Z" with Teresa Rotschopf are all the more Pulsinger's sonically, but hearing her clipped, coolly passionate singing on the track (even if it might be its own familiar turn as well) creates an enjoyable tension between her reserve and the sparkling overload of the main arrangement. As for the one fully solo piece, "Cache Wash," it's a pleasant little shuffle of a track, almost an electronic jazz jam of sorts.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett