A Strangely Isolated Place

by: Ulrich Schnauss

Ulrich Schnauss' second record for City Centre Offices moves away from the early-'90s U.K. techno touches of Far Away Trains Passing By in order to zero in on another early-'90s U.K. phenomenon. Though it was plain to hear in the debut that Schnauss had an affinity for the likes of Chapterhouse and Slowdive, it didn't become the crux of his sound until his version of the latter's "Crazy for You," from Morr Music's 2002 Blue Skied an' Clear compilation. Schnauss' version of the song was so dead-on that it could've been released -- without any suspicion -- as a Chapterhouse remix of the original. Though it's just as reliant on the past, A Strangely Isolated Place is an even stronger record than the debut, with a wider range of moods, improved beat programming, unobtrusive vocals, and an overall effect that is less inhibited. "On My Own" could've been the most blissed-out and forward-looking song released on Too Pure in 1992, with a steady Neu!-like rhythmic thrust and sun-bleached guitars shooting equal amounts of blurry rays and fuzzy shards. "Clear Day" is another track that could double as a Chapterhouse remix of Slowdive, only with an outtake from the first singles sped up significantly and bolstered with an energetic hip-hop beat that comes close to being lost in a dense swirl of effects. Admittedly, Schnauss might still be a little too sweet and amiable for most "serious" electronic music followers. That's clearly their loss. ~ Andy Kellman

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