Luzius Schuler

Territory: DE | AT | CH | EU | WW

Young rising star and piano original Luzius Schuler hails from Berne, Switzerland and cites John Carroll Kirby, Floating Points and Bill Evans as some of his influences. While references are always to be taken with a grain of salt this may serve as an apt preview of some of the ideas Schuler pursues on his latest oeuvre. For his new record “Penta Festival” (Red Brick Chapel), Schuler had initially planned on inverting his circadian rhythm: to create and record when the rest of the world would be fast asleep. The pandemic, however, had already imposed its very own pulse of canceled concerts by February 2021, which also affected the schedule of the sought-after pianist, keyboardist, composer and producer. In the end, the night recordings did not go ahead and Schuler spent 14 intense days at his studio instead, taking serious stock of himself. The distilled results can be heard on “Penta Festival“, a testimony of Schuler’s soul-searching, isolated self as expressed on the upright piano and through various electronica. The listener enters a world full of distorted and down-pitched Roland 606 beats, some awesome manipulation of the upright piano blending with pitch-bent synth lines and multiple layers of sound, all gradually emerging to fully fledged pieces.
The colourful cover by Luca Schenardi hints at the many facets and celebratory character of this sonic carnival which Schuler created at a time when life was put on hold frequently, even during daytime. Through his imaginative and subtle use of electronics Schuler fancifully creates ghostly images which he juxtaposes with uncannily responsive precision on the upright piano – an artistic endeavour that suggests a highly personal and rather emotionally charged process in the making of the record.
As for the tracks, “Planet Balcony“ couples a clock-like piano pulse with lyrical arpeggios evoking triumphant, melancholic top-lines. An extra-terrestrial component looms strongly over this wonderfully weird composition, almost as if Thom Yorke had exhaled words of wisdom from his “Eraser” period into the track. According to Schuler, the track, with its repetitive yet never incessant patterns, is a rendition of early spring days: a celebration of the everyday idleness and indolence he had observed on the balconies opposite the recording studio. The opener “Solar Day” evokes a rich mix of dreamy soundscapes, pre-empting the album’s general flavour made up of reveries spun off minimalist patterns and fluently uncliched improvisation. With his improvised lines, Schuler points to the fact that he relishes ambiguity over predictable outcomes, delicacy over force. The prolific and versatile musician displays profuse ease at ingeniously mingling acoustic and electronic sound palettes. Track two, “Penta Festival”, contrasts angular lines and asymmetric phrasing with joyous precision. There are the rattling mechanics of the piano which makes the instrument appear immensely physical, almost graspable and seemingly within reach, while on the slightly more mystical “Me in a Mystical Place” Schuler’s pitch-bent chords and use of vibrato elude a good dose of anticipation and friskiness. On this track, Schuler expands his sonic landscape comfortably into the realms of psychedelia while the intro to the closing track “Sooth” makes for a reconciling “Evanesque” finishing mood. A marvelous and wonderfully creative exploration of sound as perceived in the 21st century, this one is not to miss.