[23 January 2014]
After beginning his career releasing music under the pseudonyms View to the Future and Ethereal 77, Ulrich Schnauss appeared on the scene under his real name with his 2001 release, Far Away Trains Passing By on City Centre Offices. Shortly after, Schnauss gained recognition among fans of ethereal electronica, ambient, and shoegaze genres alike. His 2003 release, A Strangely Isolated Place, has received a ton of critical acclaim, and is still on the list of my all time favorite albums. In 2012, Schnauss joined Mark Peters for a collaboration on the Hamburg based Bureau B imprint, titled Underrated Silence. This was not their first joint venture—the two are members of the Engineers, a British “dreamy shoegaze” band which also includes Simon Phipps and Daniel Land as members.
With Peters’ prominent guitar layered across Schnauss’ hazy ambient palettes and glitchy electronic beats, the duo’s latest collaboration, Tomorrow Is Another Day, feels incredibly organic, full of summer breeze and feel good vibe. This is a bright and optimistic affair, with a nod to soaring soundscapes by Boards of Canada, Tycho and Manual. The melodies appear to float upon the synth lines, enchanting echoes, and rhythmic chords. The major chord progressions are hypnotic, but not in that sleep-inducing way. Instead, the sounds make me flashback to carefree car rides, beach Frisbee, and barbecues with friends. A very elated memory for a cold winter night.
Two thirds into Tomorrow Is Another Day we hit the first and only vocal track on the album, titled “Walking With My Eyes Closed”. The intricate drum machine electro beat and nearly apathetic melody paired with progressive minor chords sounds like an intoxicating cocktail of earlier works from Orbital, Depeche Mode and Helios. Schnauss’ slight accent on the vocals gives the track that edgy German feel—I really don’t know how else to describe it, but it’s a good thing. “Walking With My Eyes Closed” is guaranteed to embed itself in your memory, long after the melody is gone.
Another beautiful track is “Bound By Lies”, with its mesmerizing rhythm, multi-layered progression, and head-nodding vibe. The release concludes with “There’s Always Tomorrow”, a soporific dreamscape of synthesizer arpeggios, space pads, and jamming guitar riffs, before the entire heavily coated buildup slowly recedes and fades out. The positive spin on the melodies throughout the album hints at an overall forward-looking way of life, even if the hardships of the day have brought you down by the end. Tomorrow is another day! Don’t do today what you can leave until tomorrow. Er… is that how it goes?