Paul Haslinger is an Austrian musician and composer based in LA. He was a member of Tangerine Dream through the last 1980s and has contributed to both the programming of and scoring for video games as well as making film and TV soundtracks and working with a range of musicians from the dark ambient master Lustmord through singers like Nona Hendryx and the conceptualist Jon Hassell.
Now, with recent solo releases, he occupies a space somewhere between modern classical and ambient music, piano is the main melodic instrument in his compositions but he builds an interesting set of textures around that to make instrumental pieces that fuse human and tech elements; an intersection we’ve all arrived at, some knowingly, some less so perhaps.
Austerlitz is his latest EP, a gorgeous set of moody evocations. Opener, The Waiting Room, sets a soft piano cadence against strings in a stirring piece that instantly takes me to the worlds of Nyman and Glass via Jóhann Gunnar Jóhannsson and Hildur IGuðnadóttir. That’s a world where I want to rest. Add in a bit of Cliff Martinez’ film score feel.
The title track is almost Pink Floyd-ian with its opening repeated guitar and piano motif; an ostinato that reminds us, too, of Haslinger’s connection to Tangerine Dream.
The gossamer shimmer of Mirror is almost sound installation over actual musical composition, you could expect it to change subtly each time you hear it, belying its recorded source.
And then the fragility of Low Setting Sun is almost unbearable. Heart-breaking in that way of Jóhannsson’s final works. Closing piece, Winter’s Fall is the most dramatic, the longest too (just five minutes by the way). The piano almost strident in the opening, before a lovely soft melody falls into place, with exquisite use of space – a silence you can feel.
Haslinger’s latest EP is only 17 minutes in total but it feels like it contains whole worlds. Utterly beautiful, mesmerising.
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