Ulrich Schnauss is a somewhat mysterious producer from Berlin, Germany.
Ulrich Schnauss debuted under his own name in 2001 with Far Away Trains Passing By. Released by City Centre Offices, the album seemingly came from nowhere and wound up on several journalists’ year-end favourites lists, impressing many with a beguiling level of charm that referenced the shimmer of the Cocteau Twins and the beat mining of the Black Dog.
Released in 2003, A Strangely Isolated Place, which was much closer to shoe-gaze than U.K. techno, was followed in 2007 by the multi layered texturally rich indie electronica of third album Goodbye. The following years would be filled with multiple smaller projects, including multiple EP releases and re-mixes, as well as collaborations with A Shoreline Dream and All in the Golden Afternoon.
In late 2009, Schnauss’ labels Independiente and Domino sued Guns N’ Roses, claiming the band had used portions of Schnauss’ compositions in the track “Riad ‘n the Bedouins” without permission on the album Chinese Democracy.
His tendency toward collaboration continued into the 2010’s with full-length works Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk in 2011 and Underrated Silence, a collaborative effort with Mark Peters released in 2012. Schnauss has also had his hands in a number of other projects, including Hexaquart (minimal techno-house) and Ethereal 77 (drum’n’bass), in addition to engineering work for a number of other artists.
The title track ‘A Long Way To Fall’ is available on Soundcloud from Ulrich Schnauss’ forthcoming album out February 12, 2013 on Domino in North America and January 18, 2013 on his own Scripted Realities imprint in the rest of the world .
This track has delicate pitter-pattering pancakes of rhythm that gently reverberate around the strong bass lines. Smooth, elongated and sensuous, the synths snake around this totem beat. Gradually, a misty horizon blossoms. Some strange and disconcerting sounds rear their heads – like disturbed antelope taken unawares on the edge of scrub-land. But the listener moves on.
The sensation is like gradually getting closer to a fault-line – some way off in the misty distance. You are aware that there is something wondrous, mystical and perilous going on – as you journey towards the chasm in the distance – but the trip is so full of enchantment and wonder – you never really fear the end. Even when it comes.
We chatted to Ulrich about making ‘A Long Way To Fall’ :
RAW RAMP: Tell us about working on your new release – ‘A Long Way To Fall’…
Ulrich Schnauss: After the release of ‘Goodbye’ (The final part in his trilogy starting with Far Away Trains Passing By followd by A Strangely Isolated Place – Jun 2007) I had the impression that I needed a change… as I couldn’t think of any other further [way] to work with the ‘shoegazer’ aesthetic – without just repeating myself. At around the same time I rediscovered my love for [more straightforward], direct synthesizer sounds – and therefore I decided to record an album that reflects that change.
How do you think your new 2013 tracks compare to your most recent EP tracks?
‘A Long Way to Fall’ is a solo work and therefore is just about my ideas or ‘vision’. I find the full length album a good format to explore the possibilities of a certain approach – just about enough [length] to work out details, not too much to prevent things from getting boring.
Are you looking forward to playing live at the ‘A Long Way To Fall’ Album Launch ?
I very much look forward to playing these upcoming shows… as Nat Urazmetova (visual communicator) will be involved and will provide live visuals.
My Ableton -based live set up is quite flexible -I have taken a whole range of elements – from every section of every song that I can use – to build a live re-arrangement of a piece. Depending on what the nature of the environment is that I am performing in (i.e. seated venue, club etc.) This guarantees [me] enough freedom to reflect the atmosphere that already exists in the room.
Do you think there is still space for vinyl in the modern world? (A Long Way to Fall is being released on that format.)
Yes, I would definitely say so – vinyl seems to have a small but committed and reliable fan base… The CD actually seems to struggle a lot more.
What was it like (recently) working with the PET SHOP BOYS material on ‘Memory of the Future’ for ‘Elysium’ (re-mix) ?
I very much enjoyed working on this project – It is always great to have the opportunity to work on material created by people whose music you admire.
Do you still feel nostalgia for LONGVIEW ( The UK indie band you played keyboards for in 2005–2010) ?
I wouldn’t use the word ‘nostalgia’… but I look back very positively at my time with/in Longview.
It has been very educational and helped me to become a better musician.
I don’t want to go into discussing the troubles we’ve had in connection with the second album – I still hope that it will see the light of day at some point.
I certainly enjoyed re-mixing their songs back then (that’s how we got in touch after all): They were my favourite band at that point.
Would you tell us about your association with the BEAUTIFUL NOISE – MUSIC DOCUMENTARY project?
Not too much to tell really – I have been interviewed for it … and feel humbled and privileged to appear alongside a number of great musicians that are featured in it.
What was it like playing at the X-Land Festival (Sagamihara, Japan) last year?
X-Land was great and quite unusual in many ways – it’s a stunning location in the hills and it’s happening during the daytime.
The best festival I’ve ever played has probably been Glade [The Electronic Dance Music Experience] – held near Oxford – it has an amazing line up and a very friendly audience that’s clearly committed to good music.
Thank you, Ulrich Schnauss
Ulrich Schnauss was talking to © Neil_Mach February 2013
Watch the video directed by Nat Urazmetova of Hidden Shine here: youtu.be/sXB7V58wRLU