Sitting here as the sun is rising on a chilly but stunning Saturday morning and listening to the brand new single from sonic wizards Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk. What better way to get the morning going? Coffee would be good.
It’s been four years since the last Schnauss and Munk release, the electronic masterwork Passage. Passage was the first album released on the ambient/new age record label Azure Vista Records, which is run by Jonas Munk.
That album set the stage for what has been a prolific and consistently brilliant set of ambient, new age, and sparsely-constructed electronic albums. And the roster of bands which includes Auburn Lull, Billow Observatory, Carl Weingarten, Quaeschning and Schnauss, Dawn Chorus and the Infallible Sea, and solo work from Jonas Munk himself, shows a world-spanning set of creativity in sound and emotional heft within the sonics.
And it all started with Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk.
On “Asteroid 2467” Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk lock into an uplift that is sorely needed nowadays. With Schnauss’ ethereal synths cascading as Jonas Munk layers bell-like guitar around them, the world feels a little lighter and less foreboding. The song is just a portion of the album track which we’ll hear once the ice begins to melt in the spring.
Here’s what Azure Vista Records has to say about the track:
Ambient and introspective in nature, but with a kinetic, polyrhythmic energy pushing it forward. There’s a floating quality to Ulrich’s synthesizer washes and Munk’s guitar patterns, yet the two tracks are anchored by pulse and compositional direction. The duo brings their individual strengths to the table, yet the music transcends any of their previous work conceptually. There are echoes of blissed-out new age music and kosmische from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as traces of shoegaze-era abstraction and leftfield electronica. But ultimately there’s no off-the-rack category that fits it. It exists in its own rarefied space.
The thing that blew me away about the Schnauss and Munk’s Passage was that it towed the line between heady electronics and pop music. Schnauss has always dabbled in more melody-driven music, so even his densest and headiest work has elements of ear-catching melody. And likewise, Jonas Munk’s work as Manual was always based in a pop sensibility. With both of them also deep divers in Komische and Berlin School, their collaborative efforts weren’t going to be anything short of brilliant. You get pop melodies intertwined in a web of glistening shoegaze, ambient, and swells of emotional depth. It’s all there, man.
“Asteroid 2467” continues what started four years ago, and builds upon it. Schnauss has been a permanent member of Tangerine Dream for years now, and Munk has established himself as a master of subtlety and studio wizardry with his work in Billow Observatory, Nicklas Sorensen, and his own solo work. Combine all that experience and hard won knowledge in the studio and what you’re going to get is something pretty special and mind-blowing.
Besides “Asteroid 2467”, there is a non-album track also up on the Bandcamp page called “Afterglow”. The hazy, echoed guitars of Jonas Munk coalesce beautifully with the hazy swaths of synth. More to love and get excited about. Nothing short of brilliant from these two.
“Asteroid 2467” is available in its single version now. Download the track, along with “Afterglow”, over at Azure Vista Records’ Bandcamp page. Look for Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk’s new full-length LP to drop this spring.