Graded on a Curve: Ulrich Schnauss
& Jonas Munk,
Eight Fragments
Of An Illusion

Ulrich Schnauss is a German-born, London-based electronic musician with an extensive discography both of his own, and since 2014, as a member of Tangerine Dream. Jonas Munk, who hails from Odense in his home country of Denmark, is also a specialist in electronics along with playing guitar; he’s released music as Manual, as half of Billow Conservatory, and as part of the rock-aligned ensemble Causa Sui. Schnauss and Munk have also collaborated extensively, with Eight Fragments Of An Illusion their third full-length together. Combining abstract electronic atmospheres with rich, melodic guitar, it’s out on vinyl, compact disc, and digital April 23 through Azure Vista Records.

Throughout Eight Fragments of an Illusion, Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Monk fortify their blend of electronic drift and song-structure with touches of kosmische, an anticipated development given Schnauss’ role in Tangerine Dream, and with electronic elements, which is also unsurprising, as both Schnauss and Munk began as solo operators in the fertile electronic scene.

Also present are facets gleaned from shoegaze, the ingredient that is perhaps least expected, as Causa Sui’s rock tendencies sprang forth from the Stoner zone, only to become increasingly Krautrock-tinged and occasionally even San Fran ballroom-like in psychedelic comportment. However, across the spectrum of projects I’ve absorbed that feature Munk’s input, a healthy diversity gets bolstered by an underlying unity, with Eight Fragments of an Illusion fitting right into that scheme as it additionally extends and expands the possibilities of Munk’s collaboration with Schnauss.

The duo’s latest isn’t a radical departure from their 2011 debut (released digitally either eponymously, as Epic or Weightless Memories and on CD as Emotion Meets Expression) or its 2017 follow-up Passage, but after a gap of four years (with recording spread across the last three) the partnership has started to transcend the guitar-infused ’90s-’00s electronic template.

Those prior efforts remain enjoyable enough, but Eight Fragments of an Illusion is a definite step up in quality, and right away as the glistening ambient textures of opener “Asteroid 2467” combine with analog synth undulations and increasingly dream-poppy guitar cascades, so that the track gradually ascends to a soaring plateau before reaching its celestial conclusion.

“Return to Burlington” follows, immediately unwinding with increased rhythmic insistence, though Munk’s chiming guitar quickly enters to become the selection’s predominant focus as Schnauss’ electronic resonances add crucial dimension to the whole. But in the next cut, “Solitary Falling,” the emphasis is swung toward the ambient as the melodic aspects deepen the cohesiveness heard throughout the album.

This coherency of thrust is showcased most effectively in the nearly 11-minute standout “Perpetual Motion,” with the piece’s length allowing for a productive intermingling of cyclical consistency and variant interjections. Along the way, this progression balances layered structural momentum with drifting and gliding abstraction. More succinctly, it’s an engaging ride.

At roughly half the length, “Narkomfin” is no less multifaceted as it introduces a cinematic component that’s capped with a guitar flourish reminiscent of Morricone in Spaghetti western-mode. Importantly, Munk avoids faltering into triteness buy not leaning too heavily into the twang.  From there, the electronica-redolent foundations of “Faint Lights in the Distance” get a prime injection of guitar haze that nicely underscores the shoegaze influence by contrasting with the prettier dream-pop motifs heard elsewhere in the record.

Although built of ingredients by now well-established on this set, “Along Deserted Streets” provides Eight Fragments of an Illusion with another late highlight, in large part because its trajectory handily eschews the predictable. Frankly, this is too often not the circumstance with recordings that dive into ambient and electronic territory, and indeed, albums that tap into the shoegaze genre.

“Polychrome” features a steady fount of beauty laid atop a pulsing foundation that’s almost psychedelic, with this combination extending for almost nine minutes before fading out and drawing Schnauss and Munk’s latest effort to a satisfying close. Totaling nearly an hour, the vinyl is spread across a 12-inch and a 10-inch, an edition of 600 that’s already sold out at the source, though copies do appear to be still available through stores and via online merchants. In short, if Eight Fragments of an Illusion sounds like it belongs in your bag, then don’t hesitate in grabbing a copy.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A-

This entry was posted in The TVD Storefront. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text