What the hell's this? Ulrich Schnauss in live drums and guitar shocker! The opening track of this EP, 'Look At The Sky', sounds like a rock band. We're not used to this, and it's a bit unsettling. There's a hint of 'Loveless'-era My Bloody Valentine in the female vocals and the harmonies, and there's some nice dreamy delayed guitar. It's all a bit Joy Zipper really, and not what we expect from Herr Schnauss. Maybe it's a bit of an experiment. Let's hope so anyway, because while it's pretty enough, it doesn't really do very much.
Second track 'Medusa' (an edit of the album version) is closer to the Schnauss we know and love - a brooding piece of electronica with bleeps and swathes of synth. There's more female vocals, and again I'm reminded of My Bloody Valentine. There's a guitar in there too, feeding back quite nicely and cutely hidden away in the mix. It builds to a fine crescendo with hints of dissonance and dischord. Good stuff.
To close the EP we get radical reworkings of 'Gone Forever' and 'On My Own' (from 'A Strangely Isolated Place') by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins fame. Now there's a marriage (or rather a civil partnership) made in heaven. Guthrie's track record suggests he knows a bit about texture, so giving him Ulrich Schnauss tracks to play with seems like a cracking idea. He takes a similar approach to both tracks, stripping them down to their fragile, dreamy, bare bones. 'Gone Forever' is pretty much turned on its head, the backing vocal given prominence and some typically Guthrie guitar parts added. 'On My Own' is slowed right down and given a lolloping groove, and again Guthrie chips in with some guitar. For someone who grew up thinking that 'remix' was synonymous with 'shit version', these tracks are quite a revelation. More, please.
A note of caution, though: if you're expecting the soon-to-be-released album to sound like this EP, it doesn't. An odd move, maybe, but there you go.