Ulrich Schnauss has always specialized on sweeping, ghostly wintry electronica, the sort of thing that gives you tundra dreams.
Technically, you can only do that so many times before people start getting tired of it. But in "Goodbye," he explores some new sounds -- Britpop meldings, ambient sweeps, and some truly epic explorations into a strange new electronic world.
It opens with gently ringing synth, which practically smothers the gentle beats and a murmuring voice that never quite forms words. Call it angel electronica. The second song is something of a stumble -- Schnauss collaborates with Long-View, in a song that sounds like a merry-go-round of stoned vocals.
But then with "Stars," he erupts into a a tightly wound melody that slowly builds to a messily epic crescendo. From there, Schnauss mingles new work with old: sleepily ambient electronica, haunting fuzz experimentals, angular creepy electropop, and more soaring epics like "Song About Hope."
It ends with a sort of mellow acoustic guitar that slowly melts into a soft synth tune... and what sounds like a musician cleaning up and leaving the studio. It's a suitable ending to what sounds like a transition album, as if Schnauss is feeling out what he can do other than sleepy electronica.
And somehow, without giving it a jumbled feel, he succeeds -- you can hear some drum machines and piano buried down there, and there's a flicker of ringing guitar in places, giving the nebulous melodies some solidarity and helping build them up.
But the overriding presence is synth. Synth, synth, synth. And here's Schnauss's real skill: he molds them into soaring epics, windblown stretches, fuzzy twists, and -- in "Medusa" -- elaborately twisted dark explorations of just how far you can push a complex melody.
Ulrich Schnauss explores some new territory in his third full-length album, the hopefully unportentous "Goodbye." But we just said hello!