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by Tom Schneider

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Jagged 05:39
Chalk 05:36
Overlaps 01:18
Freeze 02:33
Serpentines 04:49
Isotopes 01:04
Brash 02:21
Pending 03:14
Absence 02:37
Diffraction 04:07
Speculation 02:24



Insight Piano: Within just a few years Tom Schneider moved the scope of the sampler as an instrument into entirely unexpected zones of expression. On keys with pioneering cut-up pop band KUF he developed a key-triggered vocal style with no singers on stage at all. With trio LOOM & THREAD he devised a new wave of digital improv in which the sampler amplified the piano and engaged the acoustic musicians in some sort of multidimensional musical chess.

Now, 'ISOTOPES' is Schneider's 1st solo album and witnesses him being an astonishingly sensitive and imaginative pianist too. The album's material was developed and recorded in an intimate session at Bauer Studios of Ludwigsburg – a site laden with the history of some of the most significant recordings of contemporary jazz. Yet things don't stop at bringing just another piano solo effort.

Schneider's approaches to the instrument, which range from tender hesitance to eruptive, clustered attacks, merely set the starting point. These utterances are sampled and mirrored back, ultimately rendering a unified performance which combines the depth of intricately executed composition with the urgent immediacy of free improvisation.

Over the past decade we have witnessed a resurgence of apparently opposed trends: repetitive, minimalistic sensitivity and dashing, complex virtuosity. The linear thinking that defines these approaches as polar opposites turns out to be entirely useless when facing 'Isotopes.' Both, the uninhibited speed of granular clouds of tones and the dense texture of multiple layered phrases fired off all at once, require a complete reconceptualisation of the meaning of complexity in music. Yet Schneider offers less of a tongue in cheek critique of the pretense usually inherent in virtuosic display – instead, the playing field is being thoroughly leveled: Now, and really for the first time, a singular tone potentially carries exactly as much weight as the peaks of physiological sophistication.

This is not at all what the axe-wielding avant-gardes of the past were after. What we are witnessing here is a thorough de-ideologisation of the instrument: Neither traditions need to be shattered nor innovation kept at the gates. In a world of zero-sum thinking (‘if you get to eat I must go hungry’), here we find an integrative approach that shows that we can indeed lift up without simultaneously pulling down.

"Complete sonic fiction" Bad Alchemy Magazine (DE)


released June 23, 2023

Tom Schneider – piano, sampler, granular synthesis
Recorded by Johannes Kellig at Bauer Studios, Ludwigsburg
Mastered by Stefan Goldmann
Cover: Kira Leskinen – Eleimo, 2022
Design by Viet Hoa Le.

2 times nominee, Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik award.


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Macro Berlin, Germany

Founded in 2007 by Stefan Goldmann and Finn Johannsen.

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