Exotica Song Of The Month: July 2012
Pascal Schumacher Quartet
Change Of The Moon
Songs about moons are a common thing in the Exotica genre. The aura of a beach stroll in the Caribbean at night or a moon-lit jungle in the Tropics are two clichés that even drive the yearning of music lovers who aren't fond of the genre. And in the end, Change Of The Moon isn't linked to the Exotica genre per se, but its vibraphone-driven ambience and phantasmagoric setup are definitely appealing enough to consider it. Change Of The Moon is actually the outro of the 2004 debut of Pascal Schumacher (born in 1979), a Luxembourgian vibraphonist well-known for his duets with pianist Jef Neve (1977) who was part of the Pascal Schumacher Quartet at the time. The band is completed by bassist Christophe Devisscher (1971) and percussionist Teun Verbruggen (1975). The song Change Of The Moon is rated highly by me due to its accessibility, an important column of the Exotica genre, and the pitch-perfect non-clichéd approach of this unique composition written by Schumacher. The mood is perfectly calm, full of contentment, and due to the prominence of the vibraphone, it will surely appeal to fans of dreamy Exotica music.
Change Of The Moon launches with Schumacher's wonderfully nocturnal vibraphone glints, Neve's warm piano accentuations and surprisingly punchy double bass slaps by Devisscher. What is so special about this introductory phase is on the one hand the quiescence of the laid-back interplay, as the sustain of the vibes is allowed to melt in the background so much so that nothing feels rushed, and the frosty haze that lies over many a vibraphone note; this boosts the dreaminess and nightly atmosphere, and makes this such a mystical and mollifying composition. Schumacher's vibraphone is definitely the leading instrument, with each of the instrumentalists answering or reacting to the glitz. Verbruggen's exotic cymbals sizzle gently as if not to disturb the solemn diorama of a moon-lit jungle. After almost two and a half minutes, the vibraphone spirals become more complex and their attack bolder, and while the sense of space remains, it is pushed back and filled with sound waves. Jef Neve continues to accompany the vibraphone with golden-shimmering piano chords. The climax of this song is reached around the mark of four minutes and 20 seconds, when Verbruggen hits the cymbals and drums a bit harder, but this high point is perfectly interwoven into the fragile setting and only properly perceptible after many listening sessions. The composition is allowed a long cooling down phase of about 90 seconds, with the gorgeously mellow moonlight-evoking vibraphone droplets, the muffled bongos and the omission of the double bass creating a stunning high-plasticity ambience phase in which the listener submerges.
Pascal Schumacher's whole debut is close to my heart, but the titular Change Of The Moon is particularly strong and exotic due to the wonderful oxymoronic mélange of frosty coziness caused by the vibraphone, the scattered lushness of the piano notes and the mellifluous double bass twangs. The percussion is almost invisible but provides the right verve for the cautious climax that doesn't differ all that much from the preceding atmosphere. The glitters, gleams and glints create a magnificent interplay between nightly darkness and the pale luminescence of the moon. Fans of Arthur Lyman's dreamiest renditions will fall in love with this particular composition, as will vibraphone lovers in general. Even though the depicted setting is mellow and balmy, it is also upbeat and joyful once the introductory mystique has vanished. The ambience is beautiful, the interdependence between space and sound successful and the track easily accessible overall, without any traces of eclectic solos or convoluted motifs. It's pure bliss and one of my favorite moon-related arrangements that are compatible with or can be linked to the Exotica genre.
Exotica Song Of The Month Review for July 2012: Pascal Schumacher Quartet – Change Of The Moon (2004). Originally published on Jul. 2, 2012 at AmbientExotica.com.