Ulrich Schnauss Brings Shoegaze to Snowy Brooklyn
As Ulrich Schnauss, electro-pop's answer to Lunesta, performed Thursday night at the Bell House in Brooklyn, N.Y., an enormous movie screen behind the musician flashed footage of modern office buildings. The glass-and-steel structures likely exist somewhere in Germany, Schnauss' home country, but given their lack of local character or distinguishing features of any kind, it was hard to say for sure.
Schnauss, sitting behind a computer and fussing with the myriad wire-spouting devices that are the tools of his trade, looked like the type of guy that might work in one of those buildings. He wore a simple button-down shirt and sensible slacks, and as he tweaked his various music-making gizmos, stirring up molasses-thick waves of digital noise, he appeared too meek and mild-mannered to be creating such somnambulant sonic majesty.
If Schnauss is more hardcore than he looks, the same is true of his New York City fans. Outside the Bell House -- and indeed, all across Brooklyn, the five boroughs, and much of the Northeast -- snow fell Thursday night with dizzying ferocity, turning sidewalks to luge tracks.
The 100 or 150 people that braved the storm must have really, really wanted to hear some electronic shoegaze.
That's exactly what they got -- nothing more, nothing less. Schnauss, who has released a handful of albums and remixed tracks by such artists as Asobi Seksu and Depeche Mode, performed without a microphone and did almost nothing to acknowledge the crowd. His movements were quick and precise, more the work of a craftsman than a showman.
To bask in his choral-like synths and throbbing beats -- some harried, some funky, most pleasantly monotonous -- was akin to staring too closely at one of Georges Seurat's brushstrokes, a la Cameron in 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off.' Schnauss' unwieldy, slowly unwinding