Ulrich Schnauss: Now is a Timeless Present
featuring live visuals by Nat Urazmetova
Ulrich Schnauss presents ‘Now is a Timeless Present’, a career-spanning retrospective encompassing key works from the past two decades. The German electronic composer will be selecting fundamental music from his back catalogue, much of which has not been performed live before.
At once uplifting and otherworldly, the music of Ulrich Schnauss utilizes multi-layered synthesizers to map out an aural escape route from the trappings of a reality limiting our imagination. Born in Kiel in 1977, Schnauss developed a love of electronic music from a young age. He explains, ‘I’ve always used making and listening to music as a way to escape – putting on headphones is a way to leave reality behind for a while, reminding oneself of the ‘possibility of the possible’ – regardless of how hopeless or dystopian the current state of things may appear to be.’ Inspired by the alternative guitar bands of the late 80s and early 90s as well as Acid House and early electronica, Schnauss began developing his own distinct sonic palette. Melding delicate dream-pop sensibilities with ecstatic electronic excess and defying the constraints of music genre boundaries.
After a move to Berlin in the late 90s, Schnauss felt confident enough to begin releasing ‘little electronica pieces’ under his own name – 2001s ‘Far Away Trains Passing By’. Four further studio albums have followed since then: ‘A Strangely Isolated Place’ (2003), ‘Goodbye’ (2007), ‘A Long Way to Fall’ (2013) and ‘No Further Ahead Than Today’ (2016). In addition, Schnauss has continuously produced and released music under various pseudonyms and in collaboration with other artists. He’s a prolific remixer and a member of the last Tangerine Dream Line Up picked by the late Edgar Froese.
After an initial struggle to perform the unique, interchanging nuances of his compositions live, the arrival of Ableton’s Live software has enabled him to build new arrangements on the spot, lending diversity and distinction to each performance. ‘I can react to the atmosphere of the room or re-interpret the pieces in a way that’s reflecting my mood,’ he explains, ‘sometimes playing more ambient; sometimes more rhythm-orientated versions of the songs.’ In addition, portable solutions such as Sonic Core’s SCOPE/XITE (a digital modular system essentially) have more recently inspired him to add improvisatory, free-form parts.
Joining Ulrich Schnauss on stage is his long-term collaborator, London-based visual artist Nat Urazmetova. In her live visuals the organic and synthesised, amorphous and elusive, fluid and uncanny coalesce, mutate and continuously evolve in the free-flow of improvisation. Through shifting the accustomed modes of perception, the visual performance threads the different narratives of seeing, sensing and relating to the sonic counterpart.