German electronic maestro Ulrich Schnauss has been producing his own albums since 2001 when Far Away Trains Passing came out on Berlin’s City Centre Office label. Heavily influenced by My Bloody Valentine and other shoegaze bands such as Chapterhouse and Slowdive, his own output has always been every bit as atmospheric and spatial as the milder side of Kevin Shields et al.
What Hr. Schnauss is especially good at is applying his musical approach to remixing songs for other bands and gathered for our pleasure on this album are 14 of those remixes from bands such as Howling Bells and Mojave 3. The remix area is often fraught with disappointment where it becomes very easy to fall to one side (too much ego on the side of the remixer rendering the original almost indecipherable) or another (unsatisfyingly leaving the original almost untouched – see Daft Punk’s mix of Franz Ferdinand’s -Take Me Out’). Thankfully Schnauss has a deft hand and with it manages to put his lush, electronic mark over all these songs while always building the remix around the original sound and mood of the song. Though he re-renders almost all the music electronically and with a definite style of his, the songs still retain much of the feeling of the originals – in no way has Schnauss made -dance’ versions of these songs.
Knowing the originals, however, in not essential in enjoying this album and the original musicians appear more like guests of Schnauss in these songs. Though it is a compilation of remixes it works well as a unit – a strong collection of intricately constructed, mellow electronica built on a bedrock of some great original tracks. His take on Howling Bells’ -Setting Sun’ is a stand-out track and its slow-motion, cinematic conversion makes the original sound a little too sparse when you go back to it. Without being revisionist Schnauss nicely taps that Cranes/Cocteau Twins/My Bloody Valentine sound and creates something both familiar and fresh which he then coats liberally over the 14 expertly revised and hugely enjoyable songs here.