Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ulrich Schnauss talks to his feet

But fails to shoot it. I think.

Warning! This is not really related to j-pop or anime, other than a brief reference to Nodame Cantabile. This entry does feature more of my scatterbrained listening habits.

Following on from Martin's comment mentioning My Bloody Valentine, I thought I'd mention Ulrich Schnauss' latest, Goodbye, which arrived in the mail the other day.

Preliminary reading: interview, and Pitchforkmedia review.

I don't come down as hard on Goodbye as the reviewer does, but I do have my own misgivings. For one, it's not the Ulrich Schnauss of Far away trains passing by, which I encountered one sleepless night by randomly tuning my clock-radio to the now defunct Brave New Waves program on CBC Radio 2.

Shoegaze is the name of the game here, a far cry from the warm, uplifting, and very tuneful lines of two albums prior. You might say that he's seriously returning to his roots. If you do happen to be a fan of shoegaze, Goodbye may be worth saying Hello to, but I say preview first before committing.

The review brought up a term that I forgot to include in my entry on Megumi Noda but mentioned in another: self-consciousness. That is to say, Megumi Noda is not self-conscious at all; not about her appearance, not about her playing style, not about the things she says. That's about as close as this entry is going to get to anime.

That Ulrich is being too self-conscious when it comes to shoegaze just doesn't compute to me. If one takes the claim to the other extreme, then any fool or two can just stand there with a few guitars and set up this giant wall of sound for a few minutes while muttering into their microphones, and call it shoegaze. Wait, maybe they do, and it would be called bad shoegaze if anyone did see what they did there.

Shoegaze at its best is meticulously layered. Ulrich notes that tracks in Goodbye may have about 100 elements running at the same time. The man deserves some praise for effort.

I can't just like something because of the amount of effort that went into its production, though. I suppose that means I will never rise above the practical listener, who can't or won't appreciate effort for the sake of effort. There may be beauty in these tracks, like tantalizing but microscopic portholes in the sonic wall, but I'm of the opinion that beauty be emphasized and not buried. As such, I find little resonance in shoegaze.

Reviews have generally been positive, though, so this may be an excellent addition to the genre. I don't know enough about what makes good shoegaze to say.