It's been over four years since there was last any new music from Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk. This time around the duo heads in a slightly different direction. On Eight Fragments Of An Illusion they bring their individual strengths to the table, yet it transcends their previous work conceptually.
These eight tracks are much more 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 eight tracks are anchored by pulse and compositional direction. 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.
Pieced together from sessions spanning the course of three years, mostly in Ulrich's London studio – a workspace packed with rare synthesizers and vintage outboard gear – "Eight Fragments Of An Illusion" is a luxurious listen. Compared to the duos previous two releases there's more of a focus on texture and slowly evolving patterns, which naturally reflects the fact that Ulrich has spent a large portion of the last seven years as a full-time member of legendary synth group Tangerine Dream. Sonically, the tracks have a certain silky and shimmering characteristic, with Ulrich's mallet-like arpeggios and glittering analog synthesizer pads merging with Munk's melodic guitar lines as the most natural thing in the world. Throughout, the guitar is used both in a rather traditional manner, but often also as a vehicle for sonic exploration, processed into cloudy layers using outboard effects and software.
This might be the duo's most minimalist outing, but it still radiates that uplifting widescreen magic that both artists are known for. "Eight Fragments Of An Illusion" is their most focused collaborative musical statement to date, and arguably the most rewarding.