Ulrich Schnauss uplifting ambient electro - Oh My Rockness

Rockness Recommends

Ulrich Schnauss uplifting ambient electro

December 21, 2005
It might seem strange to recommend a show that simply features a mostly mute dude, standing off to the extreme side of the stage, playing/hiding behind his keyboards and laptops. This set-up hardly lends itself to the engaging and dangerous rock 'n' roll musical experience that the kids write about in their fanzines. There's no emaciated singer with disheveled hair making sex to the microphone. There are no guitarists sauntering and thrusting their six-stringed axes of power towards our shimmering faces. There's no perspiring drummer pummeling his skins and lifting his percussive sticks upwards towards the heavens. Nope, there's just this German guy messing around with his Mac machines. He's not that down with silly stage antics. But what clearly comes across at an Ulrich Schnauss show is that you're watching a man completely absorbed in the notes he creates with a few hundred clicks of his hands. And watching someone so engaged in their work, as his fingers fly over home row, we too surprisingly become engaged. I guess we can have fun at a show without someone commanding us to "get our hands up." Yet, Schnauss does have one arena rock thing going for him. He comes to the States armed with a killer light show that would make even the boys in Poison proud. Now that's somethin' to believe in!

The enigmatic twenty-something Berliner Ulrich Schnauss (it's easy to be perceived as "enigmatic;" just don't make any dumb jokes from the stage) has quietly been releasing some of the prettiest electro-ambient tracks of the last half dozen years. In fact, his recently reissued 2001 album, Far Away Trains Passing By is now widely considered to be a modern day electronic classic. I seriously can't stop listening to it. It's just so damn optimistic.

Lately, Schnauss has been into mixing techno/hip-hop beats over everyone's favorite shoe-gazing songs. There's something strangely satisfying about hearing My Bloody Valentine getting turned into a hybrid of Aphex Twin and the Blade Runner soundtrack. Although he recently toured with M83 (and rocked the crowd with his upbeat knob-twiddling) Schnauss does tend to keep a pretty low pro, so when he plays, it's definitely a "must attend."

Don't expect hijinx at this show, but don't expect electro-boredom either. You may be the type that says, "Why would I pay money to go see a guy twiddling a couple knobs and hitting the Alt+F8 key for sixty minutes?" And, well, you do have a very valid point. In most cases, you would be right in your cynical assessment of electronic music. But in the case of Ulrich Schnauss, you'd be wrong. Sorry.

Ulrich Schanuss plays Knitting Factory, Friday, December 30th (buy tickets).


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