Far Away Trains Passing By was one of those albums that sounded groundbreaking when it came out, but hasn't aged quite as well as some albums released around the same time period, while A Strangely Isolated Place found Ulrich Schnauss experimenting with a slightly more pop-oriented format and creating a more solid album in the process. Now, almost three years later, he's back with his third album Goodbye. In some ways it's a logical progression, continuing in a directions that you would expect, while also indulging in some weaker tendencies at the same time.
The biggest problems with the release are some of the same ones that have plagued Schnauss in the past, but here they're amplified with an even softer core of music. To many, this greater focus on "lite" synth patches and sweeps will probably sound rather dreamy, but it pushes his songs into super-sappy territory in many places, especially given the five and a half-minute song length average (his other weakness is knowing to quit when he's ahead).
Lest it sound like I completely dislike the album, I will say that there are definitely some things to enjoy on Goodbye. At well over six minutes, "Stars" could certainly use a bit of trimming, but builds nicely with some uneasy waves of bass and the multi-tracked vocals of Judith Beck (who is featured on a good portion of songs on the release). "A Song About Hope" is similarly dreamy, with a tangible rhythm section that gives a solid backing to dense cascades of glittery synths and more ethereal vocals. "Medusa" might be the best song on the entire release, with a palpable tension that's built through sand-blasted washes of gritty electronics as everything from harpsichord melodies to 8-bit electronics tumble through the ever-growing crescendo.
Elsewhere, there's a whole lot of hazy atmospheric shoegazery type of stuff that's all produced quite nicely, but tends to run together in places. The album-titled "Goodbye" is one of the worst offenders, running through almost eight minutes of misty dreampop that never really moves beyond the softened-edge that a majority of the release. In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with that, but as mentioned above, Goodbye has a tendency to blur together in many places during the course of ten tracks and just under an hour in running length. If you like his past work, you might want to check this one out, but others will probably want to take a pass.