Ulrich Schnauss delights the Rough Trade crowd
German musician and producer Ulrich Schnauss played at Rough Trade East to celebrate the release of his latest LP. A Long Way to Fall is the German’s long-awaited fourth album since the release of his last solo project in 2007. His latest outing promises a change in direction from his previous attempts, Far Away Passing Trains, A Strangely Isolated Place and Goodbye.
Arriving 15 minutes late, the ever-so-humble Schnauss looked flustered and exhausted, quickly apologising to the crowd: “Sorry I’m late I didn’t realise they [RTE] had no visuals,” he explained. “I had to run home and grab a DVD.” The crowd reacted favourably to such an honest and comical admission, at which he sipped a beverage and proclaimed a toast in his native tongue.
The recorded album itself is a well-produced adventure into the ambience of electronic music, whereas live, the soundscape is a harsher, more dangerous proposition. However, Schnauss began in typical fashion, showcasing his brand of chilled out melodic electronica that has gained him many admirers over the years. As the set unravelled the synths became more brutal, encompassing distorted melodies and disturbingly chaotic drum beats.
The former Longview keyboardist incorporated elements of house, techno and hip hop, thrown together to create a hotbed of noise that was not easy on the ear but worked well when blended together, and displayed real artistry and know-how. Schnauss made consistent use of the arpeggiator, which sounded erratic at times, with the drumbeat seemingly ascending and descending on an escalator.
Schnauss’ first three albums were an attempt to transform the sounds of the early 90s alternative rock scene into more of an electronic expression. This performance revealed a more claustrophobic attempt, with intruding bass lines, heavy distortion, some vocals buried within static and noisy street level sampling, but with an 80s electronica aesthetic.
There were tracks with quicker drumbeats and multiple changes in direction making it all harder to absorb, and yet this display delivered some impressive edgy results. Those fans of Schnauss’ more ambient side will find the album title track, A Long Way to Fall, truly exquisite. He is undoubtedly still a genius at work.
Photo: Florian Wizorek (xflo.net)
A Long Way to Fall by Ulrich Schnauss is available in all good record shops now.
Watch the video for A Long Way to Fall here: