German electronic musician Ulrich Schnauss talks about religion, space music and a return to electronic sound in the Echoes Podcast.
Ulrich Schnauss – A Long Way to Fall
Five years after his stormy, end-of-the-world electro-shoegaze treatise called Goodbye, German downtempo synth scientist Ulrich Schnauss returns with a new CD. Gone are the layers of distorted sound, aggressive grooves and over-driven guitar timbres that marked Goodbye. His latest album, A Long Way to Fall has a cleaner sound that harkens back to his earlier records like A Strangely Isolated Place. But run through the titles and it seems like the memories of a tormented life. In this weeksEchoes Podcast, I take a leap with Ulrich Schnauss.
Five years after his stormy, end-of-the-world electro-shoegaze treatise called Goodbye, German downtempo synth scientist Ulrich Schnauss returns with a new CD. Gone are the layers of distorted sound, aggressive grooves and over-driven guitar timbres that marked Goodbye. A Long Way to Fallhas a cleaner sound, letting Schnauss’ electronic melodies breathe in clear air instead of an electric haze. But run through the titles and it seems like the memories of a tormented life: “Borrowed Time” “A Forgotten Birthday” “A Long Way To Fall” “I Take Comfort In Your Ignorance” “Like A Ghost In Your Own Life” “A Ritual in Time and Death” “Broken Homes.”
Yet, with a few exceptions, the sound of A Long Way to Fall loops back to Schnauss’ uplifting breakthrough albums, Faraway Trains Passing By and A Strangely Isolated Place;a sound Brian Eno might describe as “brave and resigned” and which I’d call melancholy and heroic. Think Spartacus on the cross. Even with a title that suggests darkness and foreboding, like “The Weight of Darkening Skies,” the song itself sounds like the happier child of “Medusa,” the electro-distortion, 8-bit blowout from Goodbye.
Schnauss is an artist who loves the mystery of sound, creating alien worlds on “Broken Homes,” which mixes 8-bit video game Pong bleeps with thudding electronic drums churning over each other in a slurry of distended groove. The backwards incantations of German priests lends an aura of mystery and a little dread. Schnauss often gently entices you before sending you spinning. “Her and the Sea” opens the album pensively, before launching into a percussive track with churning synthesizer grooves bisected by glitch effects and the kind of euphoric melody that Ulrich Schnauss has perfected.
Ulrich Schnauss is one of the most widely influential electronic artists, but he nods to his own roots on A Long Way to Fall. “A Forgotten Birthday” is a headlong cinematic plunge with a galloping electro-samba groove, pinging space harpsichords and swooping synth pads that updates the 70′s electronic sound. He loves Tangerine Dream so much that in an Echoes blindfold test he identified the Dream’s “Ricochet” just from the opening applause. So in an album that looks back to his early days, it ends with a track that goes even further back with a Berlin School sequencer pattern driving the space journey of “A Ritual in Time and Death.”
Although the themes, like that title, are dark and the music wouldn’t be called happy by most standards, on A Long Way to Fall, Ulrich Schnauss once again orchestrates a deliriously kinetic electronic opus that pushes toward ecstasy.
Chuck Van Zyl from Star’s End & John Diliberto from Echoes.
Friday Arts, a program on Philadelphia PBS station WHYY, did a piece on Philly space music and interviewed EchoesJohn Diliberto & Jeff Towne as well as Chuck Van Zyl from Star’s End and electronic musician Jason Sloan. The feature ran Friday, 1/4/2012, but you can see it online here: http://video.whyy.org/video/2323750666 The Echoes/Star’s End Segment is the first on in the show.
Space psychedelia descended on the Rotunda in Philadelphia last night. In the latest concert in the Event Horizonseries, it was a three band show with PYXL8R, Groupthink and headlined by Tim Motzer & Bernhard Wöstheinrich.
Tim Motzer is sonic experimentalist who you’ll find attending most of the outside music shows in Philadelphia from free jazz to Radiohead. He’s recorded with a host of new music luminaries including David Sylvian, King Britt, Can’s Jaki Leibezeit and his own electro-lounge group, NuCultures.
Bernhard Wöstheinrich has been on the German avant-space music scene since the late 1980s, playing with Centrozoon, Markus Reuter and Ian Boddy. His album as The Redundant Rocker, Escape, is an oblique take on techno-pop.
Dehja Ti, Tim Motzer & Bernhard Wöstheinrich at Event Horizon
On the stage of the Rotunda, Motzer and Wöstheinrich created one long, circuitous performance. Wöstheinrich sat on the right hand side of the stage behind a computer and some controllers while Motzer sat on a stool, stage center, playing his guitar with a video camera mounted on the headstock. The camera is important because it was part of the elaborate set of projections performed by Dejha Ti who sat stage left with her partner, mixing live camera feeds with an array of designs from trees to abstract patterns. Projected on six irregular screens set at different depths, it seemed to embrace the music of Motzer and Wöstheinrich in an immersive shifting cocoon.
Forthcoming NuCultures album
As Motzer’s music goes, this was on the more accessible, chilled side as Wöstheinrich set up a palette of electronic rhythms, sometimes evoking Terry Riley’s “A Rainbow in Curved Air,” Tangerine Dream circa Phaedra and electro beat bongo bands all put together like the blocks of Tetris. Across this abstracted electronic field, Motzer sometime played his guitar in tandem, dropping blips and bleeps from his effects laden instrument, once playing it with a bow to set up drones. Like the visual patterns of Dejha Ti, the Motzer’s guitar wove into Wöstheinrich sound design, moving from foreground to background depths and a few times emerging with scintillating solos where everything seemed to coalesce around his guitar like a magnet drawing the electronic fragments together.
Motzer and Wöstheinrich are incorrigible experimentalists not afraid to go to the edge of sound without a safety net. But, as evidenced by Motzer’s NuCultures and Wöstheinrich’s The Redundant Rocker, they are also connected to rock streams past and present. At the Rotunda, experimentalism won out as they sculpted exotic Kandinsky-like sound worlds that sometimes eschewed any center, but it was the rock and melodic side that allowed it to occasionally coalesce around a locus of control in the psychedelic storm.
There is a nice review of Tangerine Dream’s show in NYC by Jon Pareles in the New York Times. Nice to see a balanced POV in the mainstream media. Apparently, while they had a bigger venue in New York than Philadelphia, they did not have a bigger audience. Only a few hundred according to reports.
I’m seeing that we really got gypped in Philly regarding playing time and set-list. I think they played about half of this at their Philadelphia show at the Underground Arts Theater. .
TANGERINE DREAM – The Electric Mandarine Tour2012
NEW YORK – BEST BUY THEATRE – SAT 7 JULY 2012
1. The Sensational Fall Of The Master Builder
2. Dolphin Dance
3. Cliffs Of Sydney
4. Song Of The Whale (to Dusk)
5. Ayumi’s Loom
7. Marmontel Riding On A Clef
8. Oriental Haze
9. Love On A Real Train
10. Underwater Sunlight
12. Going West
13. One Night In Space
14. The Silver Boots Of Bartlett Green
1. Ricochet Piano + Ricochet Song
2. Hoël Dhat The Alchemist
3. Lady Monk
4. Long Island
5. Blue Bridge
6. Alchemy Of The Heart
7. Warsaw In The Sun
9. Teetering Scale
11. Girl On The Stairs
12. Loved By The Sun
“Stratosfear!” “Phaedra!” “Horizon!” We wuz robbed.
If you like Tangerine Dream then you want to check out the latest album from Marconi Union calledDifferent Colours. Click on the link for review and several complete tracks. You get great CDs like this by becoming a member of the Echoes CD of the Month Club. Follow the link and see what you’ve been missing.
Join us on Facebookwhere you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind the next time Tangerine Dream comes around.
GET YOUR TICKETS
SIGUR ROS Coming July 29 & 30
*******DEAD CAN DANCE is Coming August 26. ********
Friday, 6/22/12 – Sunday, 6/24/12 NEARFEST APOCALYPSE
The last NEARfest. Sold out, but you might be able to scalp tickets. UK has replaced co-Headliner Eloy joining Van Der Graaf Generator and Renaissance.
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR
Fresh off their Nearfest show the night before, VDGG will bring the classics and new tracks to town. They did an amazing set at Nearfest 2009. (read review) Sellersville will be a great venue to hear this band. This is an Echoes Presents show, but I’ll be at Nearfest seeing Renaissance. I’ll have seen VDGG the night before. Watch for my blog review next morning.
The English progressive rock band with a bent towards the ecclesiastical. Beautiful singer in Joanne Hogg and a great guitarist in David Bainbridge. Read review of their 2010 Nearfest set http://wp.me/pgATL-Rb) This is an Echoes Presents show and I’ll be hosting.
Tuesday, 06/26/12 EXITMUSIC
JACOB FRED JAZZ ODYSSEY w/Mark Southerland
|World Cafe Live (Up)
NORAH JONES / Sasha Dobson
|The Mann Center
|The PSALM Salon
California Guitar Trio
CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO
Always a great show whether playing inventive originals or covers of tunes like Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” or Beethoven’s “5th.” This is an Echoes Presents show.
One of the second generation icons of acoustic guitar. This is an Echoes Presents show.
It’s been a long time and I think TD may have gotten better. They played Moogfest last year and I have a commentary on that performance and a link to a live recording of it. http://wp.me/pgATL-1qP
|Wells Fargo Center
Thursday, July 12
There just wasn’t enough Adrian Legg during this year’s International Guitar Night VI show. That’s remedied with this solo concert from one of the true originals of the guitar. And he’s a riotous raconteur of the first order. This is an Echoes Presents show.
Saturday, 07/14/12 ROGER WATERS: THE WALL LIVE
|Citizens Bank Park
Friday, 07/20/12 – Sun, 7/22/12
XPONENTIAL MUSIC FESTIVAL
Wilco / Avett Brothers – Dr. Dog -*Counting Crows – The Hold Steady / The War On Drugs / The Lumineers / Ozomatli / JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound / City Rain/ . Kathleen Edwards / Patterson Hood / Mike Doughty / Good Old War / Lee Ranaldo Band / Delta Rae / Matt Santry Band/ Diego Garcia / John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet of Wonders / JD Souther / JD McPherson / Work Drugs / Dana Alexandra Wiggin’s Park & Susquehanna Bank Center
Blew me away at Moogfest two years ago.
Sunday, 07/29/12 & Monday, 07/30/12
|Mann Skyline Stage
The Archangels of Atmosphere come to Philly and demand was so high that they added a second show. Are you sure this is Philadelphia? They were amazing a couple of years ago and Jonsi’s solo show 2 years ago was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.
Thursday, 08/09/12 PAT METHENY UNITY BAND
|Longwood Gardens, Kennet Square, PA
THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE / Magic Castles
|Union Transfer $20
DEAD CAN DANCE
Monday, 09/17/12 AMON TOBIN
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
Saturday, 09/15/12 LOTUS / Ghostland Observatory / MiMosa / Michael Menert / Sonic Spank
Thursday, 09/20/12 GLEN HANSARD
Friday, 09/21/12 PETER GABRIEL
(performing So in its entirety)
|Wells Fargo Center
Thursday, 09/27/12 DAVID BYRNE & ST. VINCENT
Thursday, 09/27/12 GRIMES / Elite Gymnastics / Myths
Saturday, 09/29/12 GOTYE / Missy Higgins / Jonti
|Susquehanna Bank Center
Tuesday, 10/02/12 GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
|Keswick Theatre $29-$39
For those who don’t know, Bob Lefsetz is a music crank who has gotten a voluminous amount of attention lately for his blogged rants on music and the music industry. He’s even a speaker at the NON-Commvention this year in Philadelphia. I subscribe to his newsletter and got this one today with the subject line: Electronic
That caught my eye. What came after seemed like something of a manifesto for electronic music, which Mr. Lefsetz thinks is being ignored by the industry. The thing is, he doesn’t mention what electronic music, what style, what artists or pretty much what anything except for Kanye West who he singles out for some drive-by criticism, and Deadmau5,
But I really want to know. Is he talking about dance floor mavens like Orbital, Paul Van Dyk, or Tiësto? Does he mean pop music like Lady Gaga, K$sha or Madonna, which is all electronic? Does he mean rap music? Is he referring to downtempo dreamers like Ulrich Schnauss, Moby and Sigur Ros, or are we finally going to see the acknowledgement of electronic pioneers like Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Vangelis? I’m sure he’s not talking about avant-garde electronics.
I’m sure he’s referring to the first batch of post rave party music, and electro-dance megastars like Kaskade and Skrillex, and the aforementioned Deadmau5.
But couldn’t it be more?
During the week of Kraftwerk‘s live album performances in NYC, it seemed like interesting timing.
You can read his complete Electronic blog here. But here’s a few snippets.
That’s not music!
You were wrong on rap, are you gonna be left out of the loop one more time?.
By saying you don’t get it, you’re labeling yourself ignorant. Not only do you have to open your mind, you’ve got to understand, like living organisms, electronic music evolves. If you think what you’re hearing today is going to be the same tomorrow, then you tar all rap with that Puffy/Diddy remake of “Every Breath You Take”. Sure, some electronic is lowest common denominator, but it’s not all!
Electronic music burgeoned without the participation of any of these cynical bottom-feeders. It was all about the music, because at first there was no money. And when the money arrived, it came from none of the usual suspects. Not from recordings, not from radio, not from behemoth promoters but live shows promoted by newbies, lifers in the game. Isn’t it interesting that electronic went live long before the rest of the industry? Isn’t that today’s mantra, that it’s all about the gig? It’s been about the gig in electronic for decades!And electronic musicians know it’s all about the show. You can’t be boring, you’ve got to get the people in the palm of your hand and take them on a trip. Passivity is for pussies.
In a world with few rules, you’ve got to create your own paradigm. And that’s what these electronic musicians have done.
And the public is flocking to them in droves. Not because there was a big publicity campaign, not because the stuff was jammed down their throats, but because it’s infectious, the music makes you move, it’s fun to go to the show, you don’t want to be left out!
Swing into the Echoes CD of the Month Club. By becoming a member you can get great music like Thierry David’sStellar Connection, our April selection. That’s one of the albums that Bob Lefsetz probably wasn’t talking about. Follow the link and see what you’ve been missing. You can hear tracks, read the review and check out previous picks.
Join us on Facebookwhere you’ll get all the Echoes news including updates about blogs like this.
RMI’s Steve Dinsdale & Duncan Godard in Live Echoes performance in Duncan’s London flat.
I got a notice from Chuck Van Zyl, the producer and host of WXPN‘s Star’s End and one half of The Ministry of Inside Things about a live solo performance this Sunday, April 15 at 7:00 PM at the AxD Gallery, 265 S. 10th Street in Philadelphia. (It’s a static site and there’s no info about the performance on there) It’s a free gig. Chuck posted this video of a live performance with stills from various gigs. It’s a very cool live excursion of vintage mid-70s’ Tangerine Dream style electronics.
While I was checking out that video, I saw another one for Radio Massacre International, another retro-space band. Their video is a nicely produced live
Chuck Van Zyl in Echoes Living Room with MOIT
performance. I’ve seen RMI many times and they’ve been live on Echoesa few times as well. One of their performances is on our CD, Resonance. This is one of the best live segments from them that I’ve ever heard.
There are times when I hear music like this and think, “Guys, it’s the 21st century already.” Then there are times when I listen to performances like these and think it’s the most amazing sound of the last century, period. Those analog synths and sequencers still take you places that no other music can reach.
I hope you enjoyed this celestial trip from your humble space travel agent.
Swing into the Echoes CD of the Month Club. By becoming a member you can get great music like Thierry David’sStellar Connection, our April selection. Follow the link and see what you’ve been missing. You can hear tracks, read the review and check out previous picks.
Join us on Facebookwhere you’ll get all the Echoes news including updates about blogs like this.
This might come a bit late but I’ve come across very little coverage about it since Moogfest 2011 at the end of October. Tangerine Dream headlined the festival and did a 2 hour show. Like many fans, I’ve become a bit inurred to the band. You can understand why with albums like Under Cover – Chapter One, on which they do covers of pop hits that are often faithful (The Eagles‘ “Hotel California”) and sometimes excruciating reinventions (Kraftwerk’s “The Model”). Either way: This is Tangerine Dream?
But I just found out that they are in the processing of booking a US tour and that made me look online again. And I discovered this great performance from Moogfest. NPR put up their entire 2 hour show, and while it’s not classic-era 70′s TD, it is an extension of that sound with a full band. The sound, probably a board feed, isn’t spectacular, but the performance is actually worth sitting through. I can’t remember the last time I said that about Tangerine Dream, and I really want too.
Conrad Schnitzler, a founding member of both Tangerine Dream and Cluster has passed at the age of 74. Schnitzler was one of the true conceptualists of electronic music . He was a member of Tangerine Dream on on their debut album, Electronic Meditation and founded Kluster with Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius. They switched their name to Cluster shortly after Schnitzler’s departure in 1971. Since then, Schnitzler has been extremely prolific. While his contemporaries took paths that made their music more accessible, Schnitzler remained an experimenter till the end, He died on August 4, 2011 after a bout with stomach cancer. You can read more in Rock Edition.