Ulrich Schnauss is not the most productive of
musicians, preferring the mantra of quality over quantity.
This EP is only his third release in the past six years. However,
it is a sampler for his upcoming album, so i guess that he
sort of has 4 releases in 6 years…
At any rate, this EP is a fascinating taste of what is to
come. Nowadays Schnauss has, apparently, teamed up with Judith
Beck full-time, since she is listed on the MySpace page as
a "band member". I thought she was a guest musician when she
sang with him on Blue
Skied an Clear. Well, their collaboration really
works for me. Adding vocals to Schnauss's otherworldly synths
is a good thing, i think. At any rate, there are four tracks
here, so let's look at each
The EP starts off with the Rob McVey Version of Look at the Sky. This is a straight up shoegazer tune. No, really. Guitars whirl in feedbacking layers, drums and bass thunder along, and Ms. Beck sings disenchantedly. It's gloriously loud and thick, and hearkens back to those swirling, shoegazing days of the mid 90s.
The second track, Medusa [Edit] sounds like what would have happened had Casino
vs. Japan chosen to work with a female vocalist. The keyboards that Schnauss uses here are dense and thick, with a high-pitched tingling over layer that reminds me a lot of the
final (?) Casino vs. Japan disc. Ms. Becks' vocals are buried in the general haze of the song, to great effect. If this is the edit, i wonder what more the full version will add.
And then come two songs that i have been waiting over a year for: Gone Forever and On My Own, both tunes here in "versions" featuring none other than Robin
Guthrie. No shit. When Guthrie posted about this on the Cocteau
Twins Fan Forum, i was dying to hear them, but i had to wait until the EP was released. Well, it was worth the wait. These two tracks are everything that i would have thought a Guthrie/Schnauss collaboration would be.
Gone Forever starts with Guthrie strumming lightly on his guitar through layers of echo, while Schnauss builds a keyboard drone in the background. Eventually a drum machine kicks in, and Ms. Beck starts singing over Guthrie's guitar and Schnauss's keys. It builds to a real Blue Bell Knoll-esque frenzy. Wow.
On My Own follows pretty much the same structure: slow, quiet droning guitar and synths intro, addition of drums and voice. General loudness and really thick sounds. But the pattern is different, with this being a slower and yet noisier song. More Cico Buff i guess. Still, wonderful.
All i can say is, wow.
Anyone who enjoys shoegaze needs to hear those last two songs. And the rest of the EP is really good too, and bodes well for Schnauss's upcoming full-length. He might make us wait a long time between releases, but Schnauss does make it worth the while.