The vibraphonist and composer, Pascal Schumacher made a name for himself in a variety of collaborative endeavours from quartets to symphonic orchestras before discovering the liberation and wisdom of going solo with his 2020 release 'SOL', “I found out so much about myself alone, more than I ever would have imagined,” he says. The album captured Schumacher’s newfound passion for solitude in all its magnetism and exposed the depth of his relationship with the vibraphone through 14 tracks of breathtaking tenderness. Almost a year on from the album, Schumacher invites four other solo musicians to reinterpret tracks from SOL.'Re: SOL' is an intimate and focused experiment on colliding solitudes.
Given just how personal of an album SOL is, the hesitation in allowing others to tamper with the music is understandable. “To be able to hand over your own sacred material to another artist and give him ‘carte blanche’ to do whatever he thinks to it… you have to trust the chosen artist 100%,” says Schumacher. It comes as no surprise then that Schumacher chose three musicians who, despite their differing styles, converge in the diligence they bring to their craft and intimacy they convey through their sound. The pianist, 'Malakoff Kowalski' lends his keys to Schumacher’s title track SOL. Malakoff Kowalski has become renowned for repudiating overstimulation in his music, and daring to let the piano gently speak for itself. His rework of SOL, leaves the original piece almost intact except now, warm chords played on a subdued Krauss-Pianino from 1912, frame the original melody, grounding it in a brooding mood. In this melancholy, Schumacher’s subtle tingles and tangles on the vibraphone seem both electrifying and wrapped in mysticism. “Pascal’s track had this dark and slow mood. Like an unresolved or unclear relationship drama,” says Malakoff Kowalski, “My rework of it contains just one piano, and one vibraphone, no synthesizers or loops. It’s music that could be from 1965 or 2065.”
Viktor Orri Árnason, who worked with post-classical visionaries such as Jóhann Jóhannsson or Hildur Guonadóttir chose to deconstruct Schumacher’s track Tropismes. With his signature unconventional, and oftentimes idiosyncratic, approach to arrangement he rebuilds Tropismes as an abstract and increasingly moving landscape that comes together and peaks at the very end. “I felt the piece offered a lot of possibilities where my creative input would also have space and be noticed. The original piece is minimalistic and small in terms of instrumentation and I thought it would be fun to make it bigger and yet hold on to the minimalistic feel of the track,” says Viktor Orri Árnason, “for me it was the most fun to manipulate the vibration of the vibraphone itself, and let that inspire the rest of the rework.”
Even with Fejká’s rework of Amarcord, which sees the producer immediately take the tune into his terrain of atmospheric electronic music, there’s an overwhelming sense that sounds were crafted with utmost care. Downtempo rhythmic beats and elegant synth samples take center-stage, all the while the vibraphone makes discreet appearances lightening what could otherwise be a much darker mood. “I was looking for a specific part that’s easy to loop because my music is quite atmospheric but also repetitive and evolving. With 'Amarcord' I immediately felt that the percussive bell sounding loop created an atmosphere in my head which I wanted to continue working on,” says Fejká, “The drums and synths, and other leads followed suit and the whole sound was already created in a really short time.”
Japanese composer and producer, Midori Hirano has become known for her productions which blend acoustic instruments such as the piano, strings or guitars to experimental digital sounds, subtle electronic processing and field recordings. With her rework of 'Lift', Midori Hirano adds her piano and electronic soundscapes to an already ambient-rich track, giving way to an elegant contemporary piece.
Re: SOL is a touching proof that the process of reworking music can be just as intimate and profoundly felt as the birth of new material. It also makes evident the latent potential for inspiration and reinvention that exists within any finished album, “The result opens up completely new horizons for me, what can grow out of my music,” says Schumacher.