@ Summerhall, Edinburgh, on Sun 13 Mar 2016
Ulrich Schnauss is a niche musician. He is known for his remixes of Sia, Pet Shop Boys and Coldplay. His ethereal electro is the cold soundtrack listened to by the lycra-clad cyclists four abreast in front of you on a long road with no overtaking space.
Tonight, he and his fellow musician play through a disconnected set without the warmth of a human voice, that soars in places, begs for abandoned dancing in others, but mostly captures the audience in a chest-thumping trance with big, gutsy industrial noise. Schnauss lately looks like he could be John Grant’s younger brother and it would indeed make for an interesting collaboration. He makes no reference to the audience until the very end, but it is almost like the audience is intruding on his playing; some record the non-performance when the nodding gets too much.
As a small backdrop, Schnauss has projections of geological shapes, of wide open vistas and of railway journeys through cities. This feels dated and obvious; perhaps a bigger, more immersive screen and some truly arty film collaboration such as the work of Jacques Perconte, Narda Azaria Dalgleish or Richard Ashrowan might help the set feel more like a narrative.
Support act Ben Chatwin’s sonic levels were unbearable from the outset. A rehash of 1980s synth pioneers, this bedroom mixer sounded more like Ross from Friends at his pretentious worst. At best, this might be music for the deep web, a little scary and somewhere it is best not to be if you value your hearing and sanity. If the set became more like his The Sleeper Awakes, I could not say as I was driven out by the unbearable din.
The Nothing Ever Happens Here strand at Summerhall has showcased some diverse styles of musicianship and this was probably the least popular, though seemingly appreciated by the small audience.