Arjen Schat has a great deal in common with astronomers; neither are really sure about what they are looking for. The Extragalactic Sessions Part 2 (59'17") and The Extragalactic Sessions Part 3 (59'58") are searches through The Universe, as well as the imagination, in the honest and true spirit of exploration. This series of three (thus far) volumes stands as a complete statement of a single subject. Each album offers its own grouping of prolonged meditations on the mystery of forms. Mining minimalism for its beauty and decorative potential, Schat does a great job of demonstrating the inexhaustible ingenuity of a musician using his imagination to survive reality. Each of the nine realizations build toward a destination not imagined at the outset. Beginning with no material other than the spark of thought, electricity powers his instruments in a logic of minimalism, a force of emotion, and the materiality of sound. A freewheeling affair, The Extragalactic Sessions wind out in scattered snatches of melodic ideas. The lines of sequencer patterns skip and echo in an unfailing energy - in a sense of restoration pulsing through space. Thoughtful and as tightly coiled as ever, notes fly in and out of the mix, rising and receding in deft operation. Whenever an impending precipice of sound arises, an ethereal form hovers and holds fast with it in the air. An eclipse-like tone pervades most of these two volumes - for an audience transfixed by voids before and within them. The mood outside may be of a world on the brink, yet inside our electronic, sonic realm the music is delimiting - offering deeper continuities, and enriching actual lives. While the invention of the clock has given the human enterprise the regular collective beat and rhythm of the machine, the motor motion of synthesizers drives an insuppressible energy of the mind. Capturing the way the inevitable chaos of the present unrolls into the future, with The Extragalactic Sessions Arjen Schat sets new standards of ambition. To listen to this music is to luxuriate in its sound - and possibly to connect to it, and so to one's own self.
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 27 January 2022