Based on the disappointing Goodbye album, I had little hope that German laptop/shoegaze practitioner Ulrich Schnauss' live show would impress me. So I'm happy to report that Uli far exceeded my expectations.
Performing solo in front of scintillating nature footage and vividly piquant abstract and figurative imagery, Schnauss generated a much punchier and dynamic sound than that found on Goodbye. The droning shoegaze textures seemed grittier and more turbulent than on disc and the beats skittered more dynamically and robustly. Gone were Goodbye's saccharine and pastel tones; present were deeper and more psychedelic hues. Instead of taking an Enya-fied Slowdive, we got a wild Ride on the Lush side (please indulge me my shoegazer-rock punsmithery, just this once). Schnauss seemed to be going out of his way to create harsh emissions on a few of the tracks, as if to combat the accusations of New Age tendencies he'd been receiving in some reviews. (Who knew I'd need earplugs at an Ulrich Schnauss gig?)
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Live, Schnauss regained his backbone and erected some transcendental trance-outs, and the large crowd responded with restrained enthusiasm (it was a Sunday night, after all). The personable producer isn't revolutionizing the subgenre, but he is administering subtle enhancements to a form that could use some adventurous tweaks. We can't wait forever for Kevin Shields to return to the fray, right?