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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

ULRICH SCHNAUSS: No Further Ahead Than Today (2016)

“In my comprehension of things, the music of this album is what Edgar Froese was looking for after the departures of Schmoelling and Franke”

1 Melts into Air 6:11 2 Love Grows out of Thin Air 5:27 3 The Magic in You 5:44 4 Thoughtless Motion 5:26 5 No Further Ahead than Today 7:42 6 Wait for Me 5:10 7 New Day Starts at Dawn 5:27 8 Negative Sunrise 4:31 9 Illusory Sun 5:12 Ulrich Schnauss Music

(CD 50:49) (V.F.) (Melodious E-Rock)

That's what I call a contagious album! An album that sticks quietly to the bottom of our eardrums with this constant desire to listen again and again. An album that one listens to it everywhere, no matter the hour and the moods. And nevertheless! And nevertheless, the music of NO FURTHER AHEAD THAN TODAY isn't inevitably the one that seduces me rather easily. She's amplified by a swarm of synth's multilayers to which are grafted an avalanche of effects, sequences and electronic percussions. But there are these melodies! Finely polished up, they crush this impression of the massive immersion of electronic rock between our ears. There are also these nuances! Ulrich Schnauss is not born yesterday, and he masters to perfection this art of enhance the strength by adding elements of harmonies and/or changing beats which always fascinate the listening. Between Jean-Michel Jarre and the music of Jerome Froese, this album breathes of this Tangerine Dream post-Franke approach but with more passion in it and with a vision redefined for the rhythms, the sequencing is absolutely fascinating on some tracks, and the melodies which have so more souls without forgetting the superb arrangements. It isn’t thus by chance that Ulrich Schnauss was invited to join the mythical German group in 2014. Dedicated to the memory of Edgar Froese, NO FURTHER AHEAD THAN TODAY is soaked with this cachet of the Dream and possesses all the attributes of the old Silver Fox's last visions.

A glimmer coming from the horizons spreads its multiple layers of colors before springing with all its magnificence. It's with the basic idea of Melts into Air that begins the music, like a sonic sunrise. Early, the electronic percussions fall to structure a good rock, slightly animated, with tints of Jazz when the synth blows its harmonious colors. It’s a start which reminds me of Jerome Froese (A Mellow Morning) but in a structure which is closer of the Easy Listening rock. The kind of TD in the Turn of the Tides/Tyranny of Beauty adventure with a synth full of saxophone fragrances. Easy Listening!? Not so fast! Let's drop the easy prejudices because the music is knotted intensely around multi-layers of synth enhanced of thoughtful contrasts, of riffs and chords of a guitar lost in this sonic wild world, of harmonies and their shadows as well as percussions which drink around an addictive bass line. And the more the title moves forward and the more it becomes heavy and intense. This is one the many peculiarities here; the way Ulrich Schnauss intensifies his structures, so much in the rhythms, the effects and the harmonies, that makes our arms' hairs trolling for air. Love Grows out of Thin Air is a very interesting title. On a structure slow and filled of sound steroids, the rhythm is surrounded of shining spirals of arpeggios, foggy voices and of a scenic decoration as ethereal as unreal. The percussions and the modulations of the sequences add a small psychedelic color to the title. The Magic in You is a good mixture of synth-pop, and its glitter of the 90's, and of electronic rock as fiery as these sessions of Jerome Froese's Guitartronica. A voice sings a tune on a very rock structure which shows good disguises and good effects. Our ears don’t have sufficient capacity of assimilation. And it's the kind of thing that feeds them of sound novelties at every new listening. Easy Listening? Nah…

Rainy cracklings, an ascending sound wave, effects, and technoïd beat which feeds on the curvatures of a bass line; the intro of Thoughtless Motion is an excellent indicator of the sound wealth here. Percussive chirpings, which gives an organic effect, gurglings and ethereal voices are inviting each other in this collection of tones, while the rhythm goes in transit between sloppy mood, rock and waltzes of ether. It's in the similar decoration that the title-track floods our ears of a delicious and too timid ballad to stay as it is. The approach of ballad is transformed for a kind of electronic Grunge where crystal clear arpeggios reminds to us the point of origin of No Further Ahead than Today which turns out to be a good mixture between Melts into Air and The Magic in You. Rich in its multilayers of synth which clear a good cloud of sound effects, Wait for Me is a pure heavy and inviting electronic rock. New Day Starts at Dawn is the most electronic title of this album. Undefinable, the structure dreams up between ambient livened up of a harmonious heaviness while the sequences and the percussions swirl in spiral without ever taking off towards the top. There is a delicate flavor of the medieval years here with a good effect of harpsichord which is very subdued behind this wall of effects and of static rhythm. It's a little the same pattern for Negative Sunrise which reveals the cinematographic standards of a dramatic movie. The effects of percussions add a tint of surrealism with rustles of rattlers. This is very attractive to the ears! And Illusory Sun is even more. Knowing how to structure his abilities in studio, Ulrich Schnauss ends NO FURTHER AHEAD THAN TODAY with a title a little less dark than the last ones and which reinvents itself in the electronic approaches of rock that we found in Thoughtless Motion and Melts into Air. Yes! A very good album which deserves to bring down the barriers of the snobbery between this kind of Synth Hard-Pop and the Berlin School style … Although Ulrich Schnauss is not really too much far from these roots. I always thought that this was the kind of music that Edgar Froese looked for after the departures of Schmoelling and Franke. And I say to myself that Edgar and Jerome Froese with Ulrich Schnauss would have been quite a bombastic hit!

Sylvain Lupari (March 27th, 2017) ****¼* Available at Ulrich Schnauss Web Shop

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