As a writer and composer of some distinction in his own right, Ulrich Schnauss has steadily earned a reputation as one of the leading lights of ambient music in recent years. Partly influenced by trance artists such as The Orb and Brian Eno, other times erring towards the more layered trajectory of shoegaze such as Slowdive, Chapterhouse or ‘Loveless’ era My Bloody Valentine, his signature sound has developed over time across his three studio albums along with countless guest appearances, remixes and production credits for other artists of varying genres and descriptions.
Although something of an anomaly – despite his fascination with keyboards and all things electronica, Schnauss seems more at home working with guitar bands as recent stints with both Longview and Engineers will testify – his general enthusiasm for conjuring up dazzling soundscapes and re-arranging other people’s work has produced breathtaking results at times. Indeed the forthcoming Exit Calm album, awash with Schnauss’ polished sheen, is the most recent example of his work and how it translates a whole new demeanour even in the most unexpected of arenas.
‘Missing Deadlines’ then is pretty much as it says on the package, a collection of selected remixes administered by Schnauss over the years and on the whole, it’s a pretty impressive artefact that could quite easily double up as a CV for future reference. Compiling the good, the great and the relatively unknown, ‘Missing Deadlines’ compliments its main protagonist’s own work with genial aplomb. Howling Bells’ ‘Setting Sun’ is turned into a colossal statement of ambient bliss while former Slowdive chanteuse Rachel Goswell’s ‘Coastline’ finds itself constructed and shaped into a gorgeous monolith of ethereal beauty.
The lesser known Katharina Franck and High Violets receive the Schnauss treatment impeccably on the grandiose ‘Faithful Friend’ and ‘Chinese Letter’ respectably, while Bristol miserablists Dragons find themselves reinvented as a northern M83 courtesy of ‘Remembrance’ and its atmospheric dreampop excess, again initiated by Schnauss rather than the songwriters themselves.
Sure, there are always going to be criticisms that many of Schnauss’ projects sound very similar to one another, but as a glowing endorsement of one of the twenty-first century’s most proficient arrangers, ‘Missing Deadlines’ justifies the praise and more besides.