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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ULRICH SCHNAUSS: A Long Way To Fall (2012)

“Puzzling but brilliant, A Long Way To Fall is a damn good sonic pancake of iconoclastic sounds sat on wild beats and effective melodies”

1 Her and the Sea 5:07 2 Broken Homes 7:35 3 Like a Ghost in your Own Life 5:49 4 A Long Way to Fall 6:07 5 I Take Comfort in your Ignorance 5:58 6 A Forgotten Birthday 7:02 7 The Weight of Darkening Skies 5:25 8 Borrowed Time 4:51 9 Ten Years 6:06 10 A Ritual in Time and Death 7:20 Ulrich Schnauss Music

(CD 61:21) (V.F.) (Electronica, E-Rock & Shoegaze)

Before joining the edition of Tangerine Dream's Quantum Years, Ulrich Schnauss had (and still has) a very prosperous career. Besides being a member of the English electronic rock band Engineers, with Mark Peters, or still of the German duet Beroshima, with Frank Müller, the last member of the Tangerine Dream adventure is a well-known character in the industry of the electronic music due to his numerous collaborations with artists as much prestigious as Johannes Schmoelling, Lunz (Roedelius) or still M83 to name but a few. In a parallel to all these bands and collaborations, Ulrich Schnauss has also developed an interesting solo career which started with the album Far Away Trains Passing By. Between this album, released in 2001, and this album, that I recently reviewed, Ulrich Schnauss proposed 3 other solo albums which have charmed a generation of fans of the down-tempo, the Dark Ambient and the Electronica styles as well as a rather unusual genre; Shoegaze. A noisy ethereal form of rock that usually focuses on self-deprecating lyrics and melody-driven distortion guitars. Usually the vocals are slurred and unintelligible. A kind which is very different from Ulrich Schnauss' first albums and a genre which has divided his fans in the album A LONG WAY TO FALL which feeds on it, but not at the point of being indigestible. Quite the contrary! The music is very good and breathes of a very particular boldness while the effects of the voices, except for Broken Homes, are not really disturbing.

Her and the Sea begins with an approach shaded by a dense sound fog. We well hear voices there, except that the spectral cachet is very attractive. When the music sets in motion, it reveals a beautiful stroboscopic strand where is hatching a superb percussive fauna. The voices become a misunderstood choir which intervenes with a more melodious attraction this time. Without precise rhythmic lead, the music of Her and the Sea surprises constantly the ear with unexpected directions where always roam the very harmonious side of Ulrich Schnauss. It's the kind of title, especially for the percussions, that we like rather easily. These percussions crinkle the rather ethereal structure of Broken Homes which deliberates between its phases of ambiences and its rhythmic skids as so misty as muddled. Here, the choir inhales that of a monastery in decline and I have to admit that the voices at the very end break a little the charm. Like a Ghost in your Own Life is a small jewel. A good ballad in the style of Jerome Froese with nice variances in a melodious structure hyper catchy. We stick to it, like in the more techno A Forgotten Birthday, very easily. For the rest, I compare A LONG WAY TO FALL to David Bowie's Heroes so much the musical envelope and the moods which encircle the so lively rhythms amaze as much as seduce. And at the end we become addicted to this music. Even if some is very difficult to approach. Let's take the title-track and its rhythmic opening which is hatched by a series of riffs without strings which invent a metronomic beating. The effects of guitar converge with a meshing of voices and the synth layers are filled of Tangerine Dream perfumes. Quiet but buried under an avalanche of effects, the title-track gets out from the influences of these ambiences to offer a more inspired pace which shows its primary skeleton as so tenuous as a tick-tock. The voices are more harmonious towards the finale.

I Take Comfort in your Ignorance is a well loaded gun! Its rhythm beats on soberer percussions this time while this bass line shakes our inside tremor. The effects of synth are divine, as well as this delicate melody which lives of it. This heavy and very lively rock hits a phase of quiet zone before regurgitating a very radioactive fury. The more I listen to and the more I find that brilliant. The Weight of Darkening Skies is built on the same principles, but in a different universe. Here the structure of rhythm is undulating before being harpooned by percussions, a bass and a keyboard as so voracious than the one in the last minutes of I Take Comfort in your Ignorance. According to my guts, it's a kind of an interlude in the chronological fury of A LONG WAY TO FALL, because Borrowed Time explodes in our ears with its structure as convoluted than a culture of earth worms which looks for mud! Brilliant in its distortion of sounds and beats! The same goes for Ten Years and its insane heaviness which let filter thin lines of harmonies worn out by so much ferocity. A title very difficult to ingest but which is worth it. And I would say the same thing for A Ritual in Time and Death, especially for its finale which shatters the samplings of voices a la Jean-Michel Jarre in The Magnetic Fields. But just before its odyssey towards the oblivion, this title offers an astonishing lively and jerky structure of rhythm in a pace where Electronica is short of breath.

Inhomogeneous and complex, of A LONG WAY TO FALL is a dawn good sonic pancake of iconoclastic sounds where the disorder of the rhythms belongs to a handful of irresistible ones who feed on the incomprehension of others. But I guarantee you that once well assimilated, this fascinating album of Ulrich Schnauss will fill your conversations and you will congratulate yourself of your stubbornness to tame it. Puzzling but brilliant!

Sylvain Lupari (August 20th, 2017) *****

Available at Ulrich Schnauss Web Shop

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