No Further Ahead Than Today

Ulrich Schnauss

(CD - Scripted Realities #SCREALCDX 005)

Review by Timothy Monger

With No Further Ahead Than Today, German electronic musician and producer Ulrich Schnauss designs a lush, sunny world that, in some ways, harkens back to the style introduced on his acclaimed early albums Far Away Trains Passing By and A Strangely Isolated Place. Though not nearly as sparsely arranged as the former, nor as shoegaze-oriented as the latter, these nine new tracks conjure up a similar blanket of warmth through Schnauss' artful layering of textures and rhythms. His first solo release since 2013's darker hued A Long Way to Fall, it also bears some amount of influence from new age masters Tangerine Dream, the seminal German electronic collective of which he became a member in 2014. Schnauss has always had a knack for creating scenes of aural escapism, arranging dense stacks of shifting synths over slowly-evolving rhythmic grooves that often don't offer an easily locatable lead melody. Opener "Melts Into Air" follows this tack, building in subtle ambience before introducing the beat and chord structure, then applying layer upon layer in an expansive crescendo over the course of its six minutes. Other songs, particularly the ones with vocals, veer a little closer to melodic EDM like the standout "The Magic in You" and the epic title track that comes in at just under seven minutes. There is plenty of complexity in the way Schnauss builds up his tracks, but like much of his work, it's up to the listener how they want to experience it. As a fully absorbent headphone experience, there is plenty to uncover, but like its title suggests, No Further Ahead Than Today works just as well as a mindful, almost meditative experience.

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