Review Summary: Ulrich Schnauss has a new style of sound and it sounds better than ever
Ulrich Schnauss has always been an interesting electronic producer. His 2001 debut album Far Away Trains Passing By
was his downtempo release and was by far his most productive and exciting, having us entranced in a dreamy melodic electronic reality. Almost as if you were given the ability to fly. His sophomore album A Strangely Isolated Place
, released in 2003, was more reminiscent of early 90's shoegaze artists like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive with their extremely echoed and reverberated soundscapes. He still managed to incorporate a lot of tangy and extremely colorful electronic soundscapes around these influences, though. These two albums were extremely influential to the progression of electronic music and although they were a bit different in sound and mood, they both showcased his strongest ability: beautiful
synth melodies. Songs like Knuddelmaus, Nobody’s Home and Gone Forever are perfect examples of this blissful sunny day experience featuring angelic synth melodies and catchy, chillout and down to earth beats. His 2007 album Goodbye
was more reminiscent of psybient artists like Carbon Based Lifeforms and H.U.V.A Network with its more calming approach – even though it still had a large shoegaze approach. Although it was a good effort, it wasn’t nearly as powerful as his first two albums.
In 2012, Ulrich Schnauss paired up with Mark Peters to make Underrated Silence
and while that was a fairly solid album, it didn’t compare to the godly mini near-masterpiece that was 77
- which was a collaboration with ASC. His collaboration with ASC changed the way he approached his music after that and it would all be revealed how he approached his sound on his 2013 album A Long Way to Fall
With the shoegaze approach falling shortly behind on this album, A Long Way to Fall
still keeps its chill out melodic dreamy soundscapes, but also maintains a sound almost identical to what he worked on with ASC. By saying this, he seems to go into the realm of IDM. I Take Comfort in Your Ignorance has more of a harsh IDM sound with melodies becoming more distorted and surrounding hypnotic beats becoming more and more intense by the minute. A Forgotten Birthday and Her and the Sea are songs that feature quick and “skippy” IDM beats that were not present on his early earlier material. Borrowed Time is a strange track as it has really robotic beats and quirky melodies that sounds like an underwater video game level on a Super Nintendo. Broken Homes is a somewhat convoluted track that seems to sprawl all over the place with beats that sound as if they’re falling down a staircase; this song is also one of the most confusing to grasp as it changes a few times and takes a while to really absorb. The two last tracks Ten Years and A Ritual In Time and Death both feature a mixture of dreamy lucid melodies and weird scatterbrained beats. A Ritual In Time and Death is probably the strongest track on the album and it features glitchy IDM beats and melodies that sound like they should be in a Super Smash Bros game.
Some might say that this new direction is simiar to IDM/ambient artists Proem or even Tapage and the organic feeling of it may even be similar to BT’s This Binary Universe
. However, Ulrich Schnauss hasn’t completely changed in style. We still have him portraying a sound pretty much identical to what was on Far Away Trains Passing By
with songs like A Long Way to Fall, Like A Ghost In your Own Life and The Weight of the Darkening Skies. To be honest, though, these songs are probably the weakest on the album as they show little enthusiasm compared to the rest of the album. Like A Ghost In your Own Life would probably have been better if it had built up to something instead of starting abruptly, but that is only a small gripe.
To be fair, the whole album seems to have just changed in the percussions. The melodies and song designs are still relatively the same, but the percussions are a lot more scatterbrained and vivid than his early 2000’s work and some people will like it more and some people will like it less.
However much he may have changed, though, – in this case, only slightly from his previous LP’s – Ulrich Schnauss still stays vibrant and lively as ever with this release featuring exquisite dreamy melodies and viscose scatterbrain beats that soar like an eagle in the sunny sky. One day this may become as strong as his two first albums, but for now, one can safely say that he is going in the right direction with this new leaf. With it, one can hope how much better he gets on the next album or EP.