It’s been four years since the last collaborative LP between Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk, the exquisite and ethereal Passage. After nearly three years of working in-between other musical projects(Schnauss working in Tangerine Dream and Munk recording with Causa Sui, Billow Observatory, Nicklas Sorensen, and solo work) the two studio wizards have released their follow-up, Eight Fragments Of An Illusion.
While still retaining the brightness of Passage, Eight Fragments Of An Illusion feels more dream-like and effervescent than its predecessor. There’s an emotional heft to these tracks, as if the universe let out a great sigh and this album is the musical interpretation of that. Guitars, synths, and electronics layered into grand expressions; be it love, life, existential pondering, or just staring off into the horizon for a quick moment. This album feels like getting lost in the haze of something bigger than ourselves.
“Return To Burlington” shimmers eloquently. I’m reminded of early 4AD records. It has the uplift of Cocteau Twins; pop music chops hidden in ethereal sonics. This track is the perfect balance of Ulrich Schnauss’ electronic heft and Jonas Munk’s guitar layering. It’s also one of the few tracks that has percussion. In contrast, the next track “Solitary Falling” is a melodious ambient track. Walls of gauzy sound, guitar, and keys build a truly emotional high.
The centerpiece track is the Berlin School epic “Perpetual Motion”. This is one of those tracks I can’t get enough of. Bubbling synths and a Komische heartbeat carry this track for nearly 11-minutes. I can hear some of the musical strands of Schnauss’ work on the recent Tangerine Dream records, while Munk layers some Michael Rother-like guitar over top. You can almost imagine yourself floating through space as this plays. It’s simply stunning.
Elsewhere “Narkomfin” has a melancholy, almost baroque feel to it. You could imagine Munk’s guitar line being played on a harpsichord until he throws us through a loop with an almost Dick Dale vibe. “Along Deserted Streets” rises into the clouds with its crystalline tones and hazy layers, while album closer “Polychrome” ends things mysteriously on repetitive notes and drones that become hypnotic, psychedelic even, by the end. A sort of “through the looking-glass” kind of finale.
Eight Fragments Of An Illusion was worth the wait. Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk have not only reached the highs of what came before, but I feel have surpassed them. This is an album of ethereal beauty and layers upon sonic layers to peel back for years to come, allowing us to find more to dig into and get lost in with each listen.
9.2 out of 10
Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk’s ‘Eight Fragments Of An Illusion’ is available now via Azure Vista Records. Order it here.