Review Summary: Far Away Trains Passing by adds melody with electronic rhythms spliced with light-hearted idm. Unfortunately, Schnauss’ added second disc for citizens of the U.S. isn’t nearly as superb as the first.
Schnauss’ influences have ranged from tons of genres, spanning from shoegaze all the way towards ambient, but what is truly interesting is the way he approaches these elements in Far Away Trains Passing By
. Ulrich Schnauss’ isn’t nearly as heavily sided in the spectrum of genres. Does Far Away Trains Passing By
suffer from over ambition of just too much in a few minutes or does it actually create a melodic understanding between varied genres?
What is extremely apparent through the first few tracks is his love splicing different genres together. “Between Us and Them” gradually starts out as a carbon copy of any light drum and bass songs, only to eventually garner heavy splicing of electronic warmth. As the first disc chugs through the electronic happenings surround each track become greater, not only to begin each song, but holding its core in place. “…Passing By” has a minimalistic feel that sways around the track as various introductions from varied instruments pass through. Although the track doesn’t really have a sense of identity the various structures that Schnauss introduces is really interesting and entertaining, only leaving you to guess what he’ll bring to the table next.
When discussing the true range of Schnauss’ influence it is easily captured in “Blumenwiese Neben Autobahn”. The slides from on genre to the next, starting as an ambient endeavor, it immediately shifts towards electronic 2 minutes in. Schnauss still holds the electronic feel, but adds ambient splashes and keyboard synth every cycle, seeping through the cracks every now and then. What is truly likeable about “Blumenwiese Neben Autobahn” is the fact it melds genres so skillfully from idm, electronic, and ambient, eventually holding in place as the song ends. Much of the first disc really proceeds like the previous sentence. Schnauss’ attempts at separating genres in his songs are evident, but what isn’t exactly evident is where they actually become one. “Nobody’s Home” starts just as previously stated, but it adds shoegaze elements, sounding (although not nearly as loud) as a lighter My Bloody Valentine or Soulvlaki. Rounding out the end of Schnauss’ first disc is a Boards of Canada-esque “Molfsee”, which is not exactly a great closer. Something seems a bit too palpable in “Molfsee”, unlike the rest of the first disc he doesn’t nearly cut through the track with great enthusiasm of genre mixing (it’s more or less a average ambient track with minimal electronic feel).
It should be noted for the purpose of this review first and foremost that the 2-disc album didn’t start out as such. Since the album was never released in the U.S. (until recently) it has been given a bonus disc (disc two), which are just tracks from his previous side-projects and those that never made the original album. So, is the second disc really worth venturing into? Well, if you want it as a strict companion piece for the original Far Away Trains Passing By
then I’d probably say no. For one the second disc isn’t exactly through and through a re-hash or evolution of the first disc. It isn’t nearly as interesting and consistent because of its focus on one genre in each track. Since the listener had been so accustomed to Schnauss’ inventiveness and melodic sonic soundscapes it becomes a bit of a bore, but there are a few exceptions. “Suddenly The Trees Are Giving In” feels like it was nestled on the first disc reminiscent of the previous tracks more so towards “Between Us and Them” and “If You’ve Never Been Away” is certainly the melody we are waiting for on the second disc to appear. Lively, organic, but not nearly as lush as you would expect “If You’ve Never Been Away” is just what you need if your mood is less than content. Basically, judging solely on the first disc Schnauss has found a knack for melding his favorite influences in his music. The second disc has a lot more to be desired, since it isn’t nearly as consistent and more or less a straight genre affair (varying from track to track). Schnauss’ debut is extremely ear pleasing and lifts moods within minutes.