Ulrich Schnauss - Goodbye
My first encounter with Ulrich Schnauss was hearing Crazy For You on brilliant, now defunct BBC Radio 1 show The Blue Room. Not uncoincidentally, given that programme's 5 - 7 a.m. time slot, it is perfect transitional music to see the day in or out, ambient textures evocative perhaps of a low sun shimmering on water.
And so, due to these associations, I want to like Schnauss' third album, Goodbye, more than I do. The main problem is it's too obviously from the same palette, while nothing here is quite able to capture the spellbound majesty of before. At least half of these tracks work to the Crazy For You formula, matching chiming ambience (it barely matters whether this is electronic or comes from a guitar) to deliberately hazy vocals. If Schnauss was inspired by a mixture of dance circa 1990 (The Orb, 808 State) and shoegazing (My Bloody Valentine, Ride), it's a shame that the rather bland, lifeless Shine might at best hope to unite fans of trance and Coldplay.
Occasionally the record shifts up a gear and things get noisy. Pummelling beats, like a train rolling, are to the fore of Stars, eventually crashing into a wall of sound. Even the harmonica is present and correct. (According to the press release, sometimes over 100 different audio tracks are playing simultaneously.) Elsewhere, Medusa begins with bleeps before sliding into guitar effects learned from MBV. Yet, loud as these compositions are, they're paradoxically easy to ignore.
There are moments of beauty scattered throughout, most notably on the title track (think Air with more guitar) and For Good (achieving a spiritual feel reminiscent of the mellower work on Moby's Play), but not enough to hold this listener captive. The cumulative effect of Goodbye is murky rather than magical, monochrome rather than sparkling.