Ulrich Schnauss

Far Away Trains Passing By

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Thanks to Far Away Trains Passing By, an all-too-brief record that encompasses tingly breakbeat, icebox-cold electro, and nippy down-tempo, it shouldn't be too long before Berlin's Ulrich Schnauss gets name-dropping of his own in reviews of up-and-coming producers. Within these six tracks, Schnauss earns his comparisons to Boards of Canada and other members of the electronica elite with nary a reservation to be found. It's not only the sheer strength of the majority of these tracks that make the record so enjoyable; the closing and ending numbers neatly bundle everything together, giving it the feel of a concept record without any of the pretensions. From the sun-kissed "Knuddelmaus" to the contemplative "Molfsee," it's a quicksilver spin through an expansive terrain of lush melodies, atmospheres, and beats that alternately jab and tickle. While the paramount "Molfsee" is the easiest point of reference as far as the Boards of Canada comparisons are considered -- with its moody beauty so close to the duo's "Everything You Do Is a Balloon" it isn't funny -- it also beguiles with a melody so spangly that it'll have you running for your Cocteau Twins records to find which song it most resembles. There's only one gripe to be had, and that's the used-up-since-1990 beat that permeates "Nobody's Home," the only track that doesn't work. Otherwise, this is a fine record that should have instant appeal to academic IDM types and melody-lovers alike.

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