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Atom™ – Winterreise review

Sonic explorer Uwe Schmidt’s latest album shares the same name as work by Franz Schubert. Irrespective of whether Winterreise is Schmidt’s tribute to the Austrian composer, there is no doubt that it succeeds in documenting the effect of the winter season on his surroundings.

The title track for example captures that magical time in winter when fresh snow has fallen, time seems to stand still and an unnerving silence prevails. But gradually, the real world re-emerges and on the gentle ambience of “Winterreise” a fog horn sounds, indistinct at first and gradually growing louder. By contrast, the two installments of “Voralpenthema” sound positively upbeat and seem to be signalling the onset of spring as percussive trickles and atmospheric, swirling synths ape the melting of frozen-over streams and receding ice in alpine valleys.

At the other end of the season sits  “Ein Winterabend In Der Bowman Suite”, a positively chirpy arrangement that combines traditional Gemuetlichkeit with shiny, futuristic synths. Observed through a frost-covered window of the local inn, the spectacle is bizarre but welcoming as Kraftwerk in waiter’s outfits treat the assembled guests to intricate rhythms. “Tiefebene” is more serene and atmospheric, harking back to the clock-stopped mood of the title track, while the “Streuung” and “Gauß’sche Landaufnahme” pieces are less thematic, focusing on glitchy, jazz-laced ambience.

However, it seems that Schmidt cannot resist some winter-time romance: the “Drei Schneewalzer” pieces are windswept ambient compositions, romantic soundtracks for the minimal generation, while the welling chords and plink plonk repetition of “Schneewalzer Epilog” brings down the curtain on this epic winter journey.

Richard Brophy


1. Winterreise
2. Voralpenthema
3. Teil I
4. Teil II
5. Teil III
Drei Schneewalzer
6. Prolog
7. Teil I
8. Teil II
9. Teil III
10. Teil IV
11. Ein Winterabend In Der Bowman Suite
12. Tiefebene
13. Voralpenthema II
Gauß’sche Landaufnahme
14. Teil I
15. Teil II
16. Teil III
17. Schneewalzer Epilog