Not that Ulrich Schnauss could have predicted it, but the Berlin-based electronic music producer picked a fine moment in 2013 to stop gazing down at his shoes and move a few paces away from his Loveless fixation. His previous two albums, 2003′s A Strangely Isolated Place and 2006′s Faraway Passing Trains drew heavily from My Bloody Valentine’s glorious smeared mascara sound, but aside from it taking him six years to follow up Trains (rather than 22), there’s little in common with that old template of his. With My Bloody Valentine’s wholly unexpected return, his timing could not be better.
Schnauss favors clarity on A Long Way to Fall, which you can tell from the opening coruscations of “Her and the Sea,” the vocal haze he previously favored (and at times got lost in) has evaporated. The synth pads are clearly defined, the modular synth lines contrast against the ambient washes. A harpsichord-like melody shimmers atop the Boards of Canada-like skip of “Like a Ghost in Your Life.” Elsewhere he strikes a balance between a glowering, almost-rock tone with gentle ambience on “I Take Comfort in Your Ignorance” while dulcet New Age tones intermingle with crisp snares on “A Forgotten Birthday.” It doesn’t always work, as the drum programming of “The Weight of Darkening Skies” negates its gloomy title while closer “A Ritual in Time and Death” struggles between being skittish and solemn. When he decides on the latter, it makes for an elegant landing to his Fall.