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CD Review & Interview: Ulrich Schnauss "Goodbye"

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Artist: Ulrich Schnauss
Album: Goodbye
Label: Domino
Release Date: Summer 2007

I had first heard tracks from Ulrich Schnauss' Far Away Trains Passing By on a bizarre compilation someone handed me back in 2002. Again I heard a couple songs from Schnauss' second release, A Strangely Isolated Place (2004), on yet another compilation. The songs were epic and transformative meanderings through ambient yet driving spaces. Schnauss' current release, Goodbye, takes us down these paths again, yet even more so - Schnauss has learned a lot, his sound is more refined, truely original, and even more inspiring.

Ambient is too vague and wussy a word to use to describe Schnauss' music. Think about My Bloody Valentine doing electronica - except this is a bit misleading since My Bloody Valentine's wall of sound is more like a wall of noise out of which we can barely perceive melody. Schnauss' Goodbye, in contrast, has a wall of sound that is built up layer by perceptible layer and each of these layers move independently and each layer has it's "moment" in each song. This album also has some great vocals and are much more song-like than the more abstract tracks of previous albums. In short, if you are at all receptive to ambient, trance, or even shoegazer rock, try this record out and go check out Schnauss live when he comes to play in LA, Friday, October 5th, at the Troubador in West Hollywood.

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Ulrich Schnauss - "Stars":





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[Fan video + Interview with Ulrich Schnauss after the jump]

LAist Interview with Ulrich Schnauss:

LAist had the chance to talk call Ulrich Schnauss in London as he prepared for his US tour and he spoke to us with a charmingly accented English that was British English and just a hint of German inflection.

LAist: So tell us about your early influences.

Ulrich Schnauss: Oh definitely shoegazer rock of the early 1990s, the music I listened to when I was a kid and teenager. People like Mahogany, Area and those types of bands.

LAist: That's remarkable considering how cinematic and complicated your music is. You have these complex songs that build and take 6 minutes to peak before languorously fading at 9 minutes. That's a lot different experience than a 3.5 minute shoegazer ramble.

Ulrich Schnauss: I like it when boundaries between rock and electronica are blurred. I'm a non-purist. Certainly I made the discovery of groups like Tangerine Dream and Eno and Magnetic Fields.

LAist: How did you get started playing music?

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Ulrich Schnauss: It was difficult. I grew up in a small German countryside town where there were very few other musicians and they certainly weren't listening to shoegaze rock much less electronica music like I liked. I started doing music just by myself which is what I'm still doing. There are good things about that because I can focus and concentrate on something until I'm finished but there are bad things as well, you know, missing out "being in a band" as well as not getting exposure to what influences other people you would work with.

LAist: On this tour what are we going to see?

Ulrich Schnauss: Well it's going to be me playing all the music myself. The last US tour I did, I had Judith Beck with me, who does the vocals, but it's very expensive and we're trying to be a bit more budget conscious this time around. It's going to be a great show though [Friday October 5th at the Troubador, West Hollywood] I'll be having Manuel from Denmark opening, along with this great LA band called Fleeting Joys.

LAist: You're coming to LA, what're you going to do?

Ulrich Schnauss: I loves Amoeba so I will be going there again. Last time I was in LA I was very sick so this time I'm determined to do some tourist stuff and see Hollywood and do all those kinds of things.
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Here's a fan video for the track "A Letter Home" from the A Strangely Isolated Place album: