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MARK PETERS

Mark Peters

New Routes Out Of Innerland

    Former Engineers songwriter Mark Peters pays a final visit to his debut solo album ‘Innerland’, with the release of ‘New Routes out of Innerland’, a collection of reworkings.‘Innerland’ was one of last year’s most surprising sleeper successes. An intentionally low-key album of windswept instrumentals inspired by Mark’s move back to his native northwest, it gave musical nods to Eno, Talk Talk, Vini Reilly and Richard Thompson, and first appeared as a limited-edition cassette before being expanded to a full vinyl, CD and digital release last April.

    Something about its beautiful simplicity struck a chord and slowly but surely – thanks to word of mouth, as well as the support of the likes of Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6 Music and positive reviews everywhere from Uncut to The Times – it worked its way into people’s hearts. By the end of the year it had also worked its way into Rough Trade’s top 10 albums of 2018 and, to celebrate, another limited edition vinyl only version called ‘Ambient Innerland’ was released, an even more introspective iteration that stripped away all of the percussion.This new version, however, is completely different. It finds Mark looking outwards, away from the bleak, post-industrial landscapes of Wigan, and inviting eight different artists from around the world to interpret and translate the instrumentals of ‘Innerland’ into their own musical and geographical languages.

    German sound artist Andi Otto takes ‘Twenty Bridges’ and turns it into a weird world music groove, the cello recalling Arthur Russell, the rhythm Holger Czukay circa ‘Movies’; Polish composer Olga Wojciechowska sprinkles stardust all over ‘Mann Island’, morphing it into a slice of febrile, filmic techno; former Disappears and now FACS frontman Brian Case wrangles ‘Windy Arbour’ into a dark, dystopian drone; as previously heard last year on a limited edition lathe-cut 7” single, Ulrich Schnauss subtly re-frames ‘May Mill’ as elegiac electronica, the kind of oddity that could have graced a Tears For Fears B-side circa ‘Songs From The Big Chair’; Moon Gangs, aka Will Young from BEAK>, climbs ‘Gabriel’s Ladder’ and finds some delicate drone’n’bass; American producer and DJ Odd Nosdam takes his experience of working with Boards Of Canada and turns ‘Shaley Brow’ into a sinister tape collage, entirely in keeping with the murky history of the locale; E Ruscha V, the erstwhile Medicine guitarist also known as Secret Circuit, converts ‘Cabin Hill’ into Balearic Blue Nile; finally Jefre Cantu-Ledesma lights up ‘Ashurst’s Beacon’ as an inferno of deliciously distorted shoegaze. All eight are so disparate and yet they hang together perfectly, resulting in an exciting musical journey to somewhere completely new. 

    Electronic duo Ulrich Schnauss (A Long Way to Fall, A Strangely Isolated Place) and Mark Peters (of the band Engineers) return with a second collaborative album titled Tomorrow is Another Day, released by Bureau B. This second project offers a sublime exploration into their signature expressionistic landscapes while exploring the potential of a collaborative model in which Schnauss's keyboards and Peters's guitar work together in juxtaposition.

    Ulrich Schnauss, born in the industrial port town of Kiel in northern Germany in 1977, emerged in Berlin's drum 'n bass scene in the mid-1990s. Mark Peters was born in Liverpool in 1975 and embraced a deeply euphonic pop aesthetic that incorporated intricate formal structures. The two musicians met years ago when both were making shoegaze music and formed a close friendship. Schnauss joined Peters's band Engineers as a keyboardist in 2010. After the collapse of the second-wave shoegaze movement in the early 2000s, both musicians drifted away from the genre's dreamy, shimmering aesthetic and returned solidly to their own musical roots. Peters has subsequently explored classic, guitar-based music and Schnauss has returned to his origins as an electronica producer.

    Tomorrow is Another Day represents a maturing of the pair's creative process. Following their first collaborative album titled Underrated Silence (2012), which seamlessly blends the two instrumental voices into an integrated sonic landscape that delivers surprisingly intense emotion beneath the surface of its delicate composition, Schnauss and Peters subsequently began to craft a musical exchange in which each musician's contribution was emphasized in contrast to the other's voice. The differences in Schnauss' and Peters's musical backgrounds are highlighted and embraced as their two voices emerge in dialogue. Here, the synths are drier, the guitars more discreet. The shifting tonality of the music's richly layered patterning defines its composition with punctuated gestures as melodic lines emerge in sharper relief. With neither musical style overpowering the other, the effect is that of two equally masterful voices in coherent conversation, celebrating the dynamic nature of instrumental combination and exploring a new method of creative approach - one that allows for concurrence and dissent, in turn.

    The musicians: Ulrich Schnauss, born in Kiel in 1977, now residing in London, three solo albums released to date, Engineers keyboard player and an in-demand remixer (Mojave 3, Depeche Mode, Lunz/Roedelius, to name just a few). Mark Peters, born in Liverpool in 1975, bass player, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter in the British band Engineers, also three album releases to their name thus far.

    The music: synthesizer, piano, guitar and drum computer, a reduced, yet bacchanal instrumental combination of ambient, electronica and shoegaze sounds. Transporting the sound of shoegazer aesthetics into an electronic context, this is how Ulrich Schnauss once described his artistic goal. Influenced by bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins and Chapterhouse on the one hand, yet wholly at ease with the electronica of bands like The Orb, Bionaut, Orbital, 808 State and unequivocally appreciative of veterans of the genre, Tangerine Dream or Manuel Gottsching for example. A brother in spirit of Robin Guthrie one might say, an apposite epithet for Schnauss. His collaborative partner Mark Peters might also be considered his soul brother. Through his band, Engineers, he has similarly found success in following the footsteps of his musical paragons. Engineers have released wonderful albums of dream pop, infused with the same spirit as the solo efforts of Schnauss.


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