Light play. Contrast effect. A vast, flowing palette of grainy textures. Color as flux and gradient.
Friction. Tension. A progression of moments. The presence of mind – ie. mindfulness – that allows the
observer to register subtle change over time. Impressionism.
Moon is the Oldest TV, the solo debut full-length from piano player / composer Luzius Schuler, is a
record that harnesses the standard ingredients for neo-classical – electronic soundscapes and piano – to
create a singular hybrid out of aesthetics a century apart. Think of it as a collision of contemporary
impressionism – sound paintings utilising sound synthesis, noise, granular synthesis and field
recordings – with its turn of the 20th century analog. If this music was an actual painting, it would be a
canvas where a modern composition was meticulously applied over a vintage work with varying levels
of opacity. But ultimately, this is a very poetic document of six months spent soaking up the city of
Paris and writing music.
Paris is a very nostalgic city. The art, the churches, the museums, they all have that scent of a bygone
time. I took a lot of walks through Paris and visited a lot of museums and galleries, to experience that
spirit. That was also where I picked up the phrase “moon is the oldest tv“, it was at an exhibition
about the moon. There was an installation there made by Nam June Paik. – Luzius Schuler
Most of these songs were composed at night on a beat up up-right (with felt), hence the delicate
playing full of overtones and unintended percussive noises. The instrument’s mechanism was miked
closely (with the gain turned up) and hence, fully exposed. Once the piano parts were down, the
synthetic layers were applied, like an extra layer of paint or varnish. The intention was to create
something of an acoustic-synthetic blend. The best example of this is the song Zamma, where it’s
almost impossible to separate individual sounds. The song was played straight through on the piano
and then layered with the Korg MS-20, requiring around 50 takes to nail it! Many of the expansive
ambient tapestries which pad individual songs are the result of micro-loops of the piano, processed
using granular synthesis (Schwoon ⁄and Gloss). The instrument was also played using brushes and
sticks (Nocturno). The final recordings for the album were done at Studio Suze in Biel; and underwent
additional edits and arrangement work shortly thereafter.
I started to play piano at night, because it gets more quiet then. I can play softly and my ears adapt to
that lower dynamic range. It’s amazing how you can suddenly hear timbres and colors that you’ve
never heard before. It’s like doing meditative sound-design.– Luzius Schuler
The piano playing on these songs is very gentle, pensive – full of feel, nuance and emotion. The notes
move with the lightness of a breeze, a zephyr, sometimes building up to a squall. They drift, spiral, rise
and fall into and out of silence. The synthetic voices interject, push and shove on occasion. They
temper the piano with the sibilant, the hissy, and on occasion, the coarse. The overall result is a
sweeping, orchestral flux of colors.
The moon represents nature, mysticism and the ancient. The tv stands in for technology and
modernism. There’s a critical note in the title of this record, since it implies that we used to stare at the
moon and now this pastime was replaced by the tv. I find that to be very interesting, the notion of
where we choose to search for our wisdom and inspiration. And what we use to just kill time with.–
Luzius Schuler is a Bern-based composer / piano player. He works at the intersection of electronica,
improvisation jazz and different shades of avant-pop. His solo work explores the overlaps between
impressionism new and old, the tensions between acoustic and synthetic sound, as well as the
negotiation between classical lyrical forms and the experimentally unhinged.