HomeOperaI chat to Pascal Schumacher about his newest album

I chat to Pascal Schumacher about his newest album

Pascal Schumacher & Echo Collective recording LUNA (Photo Frederick Migom - Jet Studios Brussels
Pascal Schumacher & Echo Collective recording LUNA (Photograph Frederick Migom – Jet Studios Brussels)

The Luxembourg-born vibraphonist and composer Pascal Schumacher launched his first solo album, SOL, in 2020 and he’s about to launch a brand new album, LUNA, with the Brussels-based Echo Collective on the Neue Meister label. Pascal’s profession has crossed classical music, jazz and improvisation, while he not too long ago stated that he considers these classifications out of date. I not too long ago met up with Pascal by way of Zoom to talk about LUNA, composing and extra.

Pascal Schumacher (Photo Fredrik Altinell)
Pascal Schumacher (Photograph Fredrik Altinell)

Once I requested him what individuals will discover on the brand new album, he stated that he felt that listeners would expertise the disc in another way relying on whether or not they had heard his earlier album, SOL. For many who haven’t heard SOL then LUNA will come over as a journey by way of completely different atmospheres and soundscapes. For Pascal, no monitor seems like one other, every one has a unique setting and feeling. He likens it to transferring by a home with 9 rooms, every with completely different ornament however all of the accountability of the identical decorator.  He has at all times needed to make music like that, with no two tracks the identical; one thing that could be very completely different to, say, a disc from a string quartet or a jazz trio. So every bit on the disc is completely different, one for strings, one other for vibraphone solo, one other marimba and one with electronics. The widespread floor between them is him, the composer.

For those who have heard SOL, LUNA most likely looks like a really logical subsequent step. SOL is a solo album, with fewer tracks with completely different instrumentation and the vibraphone is the principle character, however you possibly can take heed to LUNA and uncover that it’s complementary to SOL.

As Pascal has a historical past of improvisation in efficiency, I used to be intrigued as as to if the works on the brand new album had been based mostly on pre-composed music or improvisation, and the reply is each! With tracks like ‘Infinity’, ‘Molodost’ and ‘Charles Duke’, the string components had been 95% composed. This was what Pascal had initially deliberate, however he obtained on so properly with the members of the Echo Collective and heard them improvising in the course of the lunch break, that plans modified. The monitor ‘Luna’ had been supposed to be solo vibraphone and synthesizer, improvised, however he determined so as to add a full carpet of improvised strings, benefiting from the truth that the Echo Collective understood his music and his sound. For the monitor, ‘Luna’, there was no rating, he simply gave them notes on the emotion and dramaturgy, they usually laid it down in simply two takes.

One other monitor was additionally improvised however was created nearly by chance. It was one thing he improvised on marimba when he was alone within the studio, a little bit of enjoyable, however the microphone was left on. It wasn’t alleged to be on the album, however once they performed it again Pascal determined to incorporate it. He feedback that a lot music you file, it’s misplaced, or it stays in your laborious drive, however this little sketch will stick with him for some time because of the album.

Pascal Schumacher recording LUNA (Photo Frederick Migom - Jet Studios Brussels
Pascal Schumacher recording LUNA (Photograph Frederick Migom – Jet Studios Brussels)

Pascal skilled initially as a classical percussionist, then moved into jazz, taking part in in jazz bands and for ten years or so had success on this method. However in 2018 he was performing on the Jazz & The Metropolis pageant in Salzburg the place he was a daily customer. The organiser, Tina Heine requested him to do a solo live performance, which might be his first. He agreed to carry out a thirty-minute set, to keep away from the strain of giving a full live performance. Nevertheless it proved to be a pleasant second and he carried out greater than half-hour of music. He determined that this was the second to go on his personal.

SOL was a direct consequence of this, however with LUNA he felt he needed individuals round him. Selecting the Echo Collective was deliberate, he needed to work with strings. While he had written for string orchestra and for string quartet, he had by no means had strings on one in every of his important tasks, and he needed to collaborate with the string ensemble, so the Echo Collective is on 4 of the 9 tracks. After we spoke, Pascal was about to start out touring LUNA, for some live shows he will likely be performing alone and for others with a string ensemble. For these the place he’s alone, he won’t be able to play every thing on the album. Then within the Autumn he was be performing once more with the Echo Collective and plans to see how these go and what may come subsequent.

He admits that he dislikes classifications in music however the fashionable classical composers (typically known as new classical or neo-classical) curiosity him, resembling Max Richter and Nils Frahm. And Pascal information for the Neue Meister label which specialises in these fashionable classical composers. However while there are many attention-grabbing issues taking place on this area, he feedback that not every thing is good! He likes the range doable these days, the opening of boundaries between genres. And for Pascal, mixing issues up feels up to date, the truth is extra up to date that a lot up to date classical music and he performed plenty of that when he was a scholar. He likes the time period fashionable classical, discovering it cool, whereas neo-classical comes with echoes of Stravinsky, and a few individuals use the time period indie classical.

He has at all times performed percussion, beginning on a drum set after which occurring to review classical percussion, the place he targeted on melodic devices. While SOL used simply vibraphone and synthesizer, with LUNA he has returned to his roots and to vibraphone and marimba has added gongs, crotales, and different percussion. He now feels that it’s good to have the assorted completely different threads to his background, jazz, up to date classical, minimalism. Composing, nevertheless, got here to him later. When he moved into jazz, it was quite common for individuals to jot down their very own items, which gave him one thing of a push on this course. However having performed in plenty of orchestras as properly, he feels he had a considerably later view. Loads of up to date classical music attracted him, and he studied musicology as properly, thus bringing selection to the compositional combine. He enjoys the best way his composition now touches numerous completely different worlds with out him having a posh about it, and he feels relaxed.

Pascal Schumacher (Photo Fredrik Altinell)
Pascal Schumacher (Photograph Fredrik Altinell)

Once I ask about his musical heroes, he says he has many however comes up with an intriguingly various trio. First, he mentions Henry Purcell, whose viola da gamba fantasias he enjoys, and sound-wise these come near what he was attempting to do in LUNA with the string writing. And the morning we talked, he had been listening to Charlie Mingus, his Self Portrait in Three Colors, music that Pascal finds easy, difficult and intriguing. Then there was Serge Gainsbourg, not solely his jazz however for his chansons which put a smile in your face.


LUNA is launched on Neue Meister on 25 March, and Pascal is touring the album from 23 March, full particulars from Pascal Schumacher’s web site.

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