Wednesday, September 15, 2004

M83/Ulrich Schnauss at the Bowery Ballroom

Last night's show at the Bowery perhaps should have been called "the electronic spawn of shoegazing," as the spirits of bands like My Bloody Valentine and Rise were clearly channeled by M83 and Ulrich Schnauss.

While I dig both of them, Schnauss was the act I was most excited about going into the show as I have both records of his and absolutely love them, whereas I only have heard M83 a few times. Schnauss is a German solo artist, who has the look and feel of a conservatory student that traded his piano for a synthesizer and a laptop. He opened the night on a table with his keyboard, his laptop and a few other pieces of obscure equipment that make beeps and squelches (although they may have just been a few pedals). He played nothing from his first record, the sublime Far Away Trains Passing By, instead focusing on the new album, the slightly more rock and beat driven A Strangely Isolated Place, and a few other new tracks. The sound is pretty straight-forward - he sets a beat and a lead melody on the laptop, and then pounds out the rhythm lines on his keyboard with some serious keyboard playing. When seeing an electronic show, the general feeling is usually "these guys twiddle some serious knobs," not "this guy is a serious musician," but with Ulrich, there is legitimate musical talent.

Excellent stuff - hypnotic but not sleep inducing, his music is the sort of stuff you can listen to when you need something downtempo, but at the same time has just enough rhythm for dancing. One high point was"On My Own," which is the perfect example of his music's somewhere in between serene and clubby, as the track was on Sasha's newest mix CD. Also really dug "A Letter From Home" - another really pretty track.

After the show, I saw an attractive blond chatting Ulrich up - on the way down all I heard was Ulrich say "no, I am not British, I am German, but the next band is French." On the way back up the stairs, I hear her say "hey, my name is Donna," to which Ulrich responded "I am Ulrich."

Next came M83, a French band with a very un-french on stage look. While their music is walls of shoegazing sound with a 1 part dreamyness and 3 parts edginess that sound very synthesized on the record Dead Cities, Red Seas, and Lost Ghosts, but live it was a 4 piece rock band with a lot of pre-recorded music. They akwardly danced and the guitarist in the center took off his shoes early on to reveal his white athletic socks. I definately enjoyed the music but can understand some of my friends' criticism that it should not have been a band as it appeared too canned. The best, most enveloping moments were at the end - "Run Into Flowers," "Noise" (played during the encore), and another track right after "Run Into Flowers."

All in all, a quality night at the Bowery - 2 very good acts, in particular Ulrich Schnauss, bringing some serious no vocal, shoegazing rock, er, electronic,

More later on my harrowing morning and how Biggie saved me...


At 10:56 PM, Anonymous said...

hey! it's great to know m83 and ulrich schnauss play... and together... sadly not in my country.
thanks for your narration of the night; made me feel like i was there but somehow don't remember so when someaone tells it sounds familiar... you get it don't you?
he. anyway that "i'm ulrich" anecdote is just great... brought a lagugh
see ya.


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