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Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Peters - Destiny Waiving

  by Adrian Janes

published: 22 / 9 / 2021

Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Peters - Destiny Waiving
Label: Bureau B
Format: CD


Album of electronica-dominated instrumentals from former Engineers Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Peters is a sleek but disappointing construction.

Although ‘Destiny Waiving’ has been created by two members of Engineers, the shift from that band’s songs to electronica-dominated instrumentals is signalled by the priority of keyboard player Schnauss’ name. Work on its eight tracks actually began in 2017, although the mixes were not completed until late last year. Despite this protracted genesis, and the undeniably sumptuous sound of Schnauss’ array of keyboards and Peters’ various guitar tones, it has not resulted in deeply satisfying music. The structure of the pieces is hard to fathom: often they feel as if made up of discrete sections joined together with no overall cohesion. This may be partly explained by the live improvisational sets that fed into their development. Perhaps too, Schnauss’ simultaneous membership of latter-day Tangerine Dream has led to favouring ambient atmospheres, rather than the more structured approach found in an album like ‘Always Returning’. ‘Hindsight is 20/20’ is an example of how it’s hard to find something to latch onto in these pieces. From an opening of guitar, string synth and piano, it gradually becomes dominated by the latter, then cedes to guitar and synth, then an oscillating effect, before finally drifting out on an electronic wash. To take another, ‘So Far, the Moment’ starts with reverbed guitar and synth bass, to be succeeded by an abrasive synth that jars against guitar and piano and a zither-like instrument. A choppy synth line later ebbs around brassy notes and a chiming guitar, before a cool synth replaces all in a long ambient outro. ‘Clair-Obscur’ is by some distance the most impressive track. Founded in piano, with a powerful clangourous keyboard over a backwards tape effect and more aggressive guitar, it makes the rest of the album seem as if in soft focus. Ideas scattered within each track could have been the seeds of greater things, whether it be the guitar and piano interplay of ‘Chiaroscuro’ or the rich synth chords on ‘Speak in Capitals’. But mood too often trumps a compelling melody, with the end result being a certain blandness. ‘Destiny Waiving’ has many musical elements in common with Moby’s ‘Play’, but lacks that record’s greater melodic tightness to pull them together. Yet there may be a common destiny, in as much as fragments could likewise work well as incidental music in TV or films. Ironically, listened to in isolation without images, the meandering character of much of the album means a sense of musical incident is often lacking.

Track Listing:-
1 The Supposed Middle Class
2 Hindsight Is 20/20
3 Circular Time
4 Chiaroscuro
5 Words Can Be Dismissed
6 Speak In Capitals
7 Clair-Obscur
8 So Far, The Moment

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Underated Silence (2012)
Ambient and haunting side album from pioneering German nugaze producer Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Peters, both of whom are also members of the group Engineers

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