Mark Peters / Ulrich Schnauss

Underrated Silence

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Continuing to effortlessly bridge the rather wide gap between the ethereal new age of Enya and the shimmering shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine, the title of German producer Ulrich Schnauss' second consecutive collaborative album, Underrated Silence, says it all. Written and recorded with Engineers' bassist Mark Peters, its 11 atmospheric tracks pursue a far more minimal electronica approach than 2011's guitar-heavy joint effort with Danish musician Jonas Munk, which means that it takes some time to distinguish between the constant array of soothing synths and subtle, floaty beats on offer. Indeed, Schnauss has always been more interested in the after-party than the party itself, but there are times when the album borders on the comatose, particularly on the disorienting comedown of "Amoxicilin" and the dreary melancholy of "Ekaterina." But having worked together before on both Engineers' third album, In Praise of More, and the soundtrack to Gregg Araki's surreal sci-fi comedy, Kaboom, the pair appear to be much more in tune elsewhere, whether it's the gorgeously twinkling lullaby of "Yesterday Didn't Exist," the dreamy sci-fi prog of "Long Distance Call," or the ghostly waltz of "Forgotten," while the Kraftwerk-esque Motorik of "Rosen im Asphalt," and the early-'90s ambient house of "Gift Horse's Mouth" prove to be convincing forays into less sedate territory. Beautifully crafted, if slightly inconsistent, Underrated Silence is undoubtedly still more of a mood setter than a head-bobber, but it's a far more challenging and ultimately rewarding listen than your average chill-out fare.

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