Track-by-Track // Mark Peters / Ulrich Schnauss – Destiny Waiving
Track-by-Track // Mark Peters / Ulrich Schnauss – Destiny Waiving

Track-by-Track // Mark Peters / Ulrich Schnauss – Destiny Waiving

Ulrich Schnauss Mark Peters Destiny Waiving

Hailing from Kiel in North Germany, it’s now 20 years since the electronica prodigy Ulrich Schnauss released his debut album. His second, ‘A Strangely Isolated Place’ cemented his reputation as both a pioneer and an artist who routinely creates inspirational music that is adored by many. As a full time member of Tangerine Dream since 2014, his lifelong passion for their work inspired a creative resurgence for the band, resulting in their most successful new album for over 30 years, 2017’s ‘Quantum Gate’.

Liverpool born guitarist (and founder of the dream pop outfit Engineers) Mark Peters shared a similar musical path, exploring ambient textures and effect laden songwriting via a series of blissful albums for the band. In 2017 he released his first solo album, ‘Innerland’ which was enthusiastically received by BBC6 music and later included in Rough Trade’s top ten best albums of 2018.

Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Peters (Engineers) whose new collaboration entitled Destiny Waving is out now on Bureau B label.

More TBTs in our archives.


The Supposed Middle Class

Ulrich:

This seemed an obvious contender for an album opener due to its bold, statement-like character – not just in terms of the title, but structurally as well: the longing nature of the intro is soon abandoned in favour of evolving guitar and synth layers aiming towards an increasingly hypnotic tension.

Mark:

The title is something I said in a conversation that Ulrich remembered, I don’t remember who I was talking about, but I’m certain that I’m not part of the group the accused is aspiring to be in. I strummed the chords one afternoon at his studio and he transformed it into a sectional, hypnotic track. The guitars go from Cambridge to Manchester with about ten years in between – I borrowed a Joyo ‘American’ guitar pedal from Jonas Munk for the first lead part, so thanks again for that J 🙂


Hindsight Is 20-20

Ulrich:

An aspect I particularly enjoy about collaborative projects is the freedom to focus on particular elements without running into the danger of ending up with an imbalanced or one-sided result: since the guitars provide a solid earthy foundation, sequences and pads could be allowed to occupy more ‘airy’ regions, increasing a nostalgic sentiment nevertheless.

Mark:

This was made from a track I’d had floating around for for a while, but it never actually did float like it does now. I got into doing two note melodies when I recorded the guitar parts on my old Telecaster, around the same time that I was working on my ‘Innerland’ project. I took it to Ulrich’s, he started to mix it and I added some parts at the end, but it took shape once I left – the bright summer’s morning in 2018 that he sent it to me on was very enjoyable.


Circular Time

Ulrich:

Most of the time I find it easiest to build an arrangement on a set of chords or a melodic theme, in this case we wanted to move towards a more loopy, less song-orientated result though. It seemed to make sense to agree on nothing more than two chords and start building sequential themes and atmospheres therefore.

Mark:

Ulrich had a synth loop that lent itself well to being presented in both a minor and major way, so that was how this track started. The circular, cyclical nature of it definitely influenced the guitar melodies and it came together very quickly. The lower guitar melody that comes in as it progresses has an MXR phase 90 on it. Not the most controllable of effects but it has a very particular sound. The title idea came after I remarked to a friend how contemporary events where very similar to another point in our lives, to which he replied with the title.


Chiaroscuro

Ulrich :

Arrangement-wise this may not differ too much from a number of other pieces. However, shifting the time signature seems to give it a welcome fluffiness – especially in relation to the album track-list as a whole.

Mark:

I dug out an old piano part I’d had for years and reversed it. When I played it to Ulrich he agreed it would form a worthwhile basis for a new track. I read the title in a beautiful article about The Band and felt that it represented the track and also the music we make together (the light and dark shifting to and fro regularly I’d say) From a personal perspective on my own playing, the middle section where I’m improvising single notes over Ulrich’s synth sequences is one of my favourite parts on this album, as I always love it when spontaneity is captured on a recording.


Words Can Be Dismissed

Ulrich:

An attempt at creating a somewhat ‘bigger’ sound while involving as few elements as possible. For instance, the low chords in the main part are a continuation of the piano recording more prominently featured prior – filtered down rather drastically though. There’s still room for the guitar to confidently define the mid range – even when a ring modulated Rhodes Chroma sequence introduces rhythmical energy.

Mark:

This was the first track we worked on in January 2017. I’d just moved back to my hometown and this was the first time we’d worked together for 3 years. We where pleased that as soon as we sat down, this was the first thing we came up with. It’s always good to know you don’t have to force things with people you work with and that doesn’t diminish with time. Again, the title was something Ulrich remembered from a conversation we’d had. It was to do with some sort of conflict, not a reference to the fact that we’d made instrumental music with no singing.


Speak In Capitals

Ulrich:

We listened to one of my favourite Eberhard Schoener pieces before recording this, where he combines heavy sequencing with choral voices to simply devastating effect. I was wondering whether that combination may also work on the backdrop of a more upbeat, elevated mood.

Mark:

Ulrich played me ‘Falling In Trance’ and we decided to try something based aesthetically on that track. We searched for recordings of choirs and using a piece of software, Ulrich took the sonic profile of one we liked and fed new chords into it which was a fascinating way of working. Almost like a musical version of ‘deep-fakes’ in a way…Andy Summers from The Police plays guitar on the Schoener track but it sounds more like Dave Gilmour to me. Mine are a bit more ’60’s psychedelia’ I think…


Clair-Obscur

Ulrich:

Once more, an attempt at achieving a satisfyingly ‘complete’ arrangement without falling into the trap of needlessly overcomplicating things. Piano, guitar and treatments aim to emphasize the already inherent strengths of the respective source signals instead.

Mark:

The last two are pieces we sat down and wrote together on guitar and piano. I always enjoy that as I think you can get into the nitty gritty of the composition in a direct way without one of you communicating with the computer as it were. Ulrich made my guitar strums sound quite stark and 80’s styled which I liked and I spent a bit of time at his place cutting up guitars to create the strange melody at the end. It has a distinct tone of foreboding to me and the title translates to the same meaning as ‘Chiaroscuro’ (but in French this time).


So Far, The Moment

Ulrich:

Maybe not everyone’s, but certainly my favourite – there’s a somewhat otherworldly melancholy present in the writing already, it was great fun enhancing this further by re-recording all instruments through a bunch of Roland rack effect units from the early 90s.

Mark :

As I said, this was born from jam session with Ulrich playing his Yamaha electric piano and me fading in guitar chords through my Boss Rv7 pedal. The riff came later at home and we threw a lot of paint at the canvas before Ulrich spent time piecing it together. I sang a few lines to provide source material for the vocoder parts and recorded two different harmonicas (one wasn’t in the right key for the second chord) This was the last track we wrote together until earlier this year, when we worked on a project funded by the PRS Foundation, completing 4 new tracks composed in response to historic buildings in my home town of Wigan, UK.

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