Friday, February 01, 2013

Album Review - 2013/1

Ulrich Schnauss
A Long Way To Fall

Or maybe he should have called this 'Going Back to My Roots' because however Teutonic Mr Schnauss seems to be at times, he kind of had his own Germanic sound rather than one that could be traced back to Kraftwerk, Neu or Tangerine Dream, plus he was a huge fan of New Wave through to shoegaze, probably dropped loads of E, got into ambient nonsense and you can probably tell him now by the size of his cult ... following. There is more Chapterhouse in Schnauss's music than Kometenmelodie 2 or Phaedra and that's why I like him. He combines two of my favourite genres and if he doesn't hit the spot all the time, when he does the results are, in my humble opinion, pretty much some of the best tunes I've heard in the 21st century. Every Schnuass album to date has at least two sublimely brilliant songs/pieces of music, a few good ones and a couple of yawn, meh, buh things that you happily skip when time is short and you want a US fix.

A Long Way to Fall can't even produce one track that is a patch on the most average of Schnauss's portfolio and guess what, it seems heavily influenced by Kraftwerk, Propaganda, Neu, Tangerine Dream and a little bit of prog/krautrock fusion wrapped up in 10 tracks of bland mediocrity. It says something when one of the best tracks sounds like a pale imitation of an old track from an earlier album that is so memorable I can't remember what it's called... Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the album is shit, but I am saying it isn't what you'd expect from an Ulrich Schnauss album and a lot of it isn't pretty. Perhaps it's his acid album?

After really enjoyable team ups with Jonas Munk and Mark Peters in the last two years, I expected something that didn't deliver, which could be the root of my slight disillusionment with this new album and surely I should be applauding his switch to a more progressive sound; I do, after all, challenge and champion new kinds of prog and progressive music all the time, but... At the moment it just doesn't feel like anything but reheated leftovers with a harder edge - less dreamy production and more bippy boppy bleeps and bleebs.

Like a Ghost in Your Own Life has a title that sounds like a bad translation and is a real dichotomy because it is the most immediate song on the album but the most derivative of earlier albums; it is the pale imitation mentioned above and isn't likely to change the way you feel about German instrumentalists. Borrowed Time on the other hand is the closest to what I was hoping for and could easily become the best track on the album by default - it's a cracking tune, but I'm not sure it quite redeems the album.

Rating: 6½ out of 10

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