Oskar Schuster has staked out a specific niche which has often been compared to the aural world of Amelie. Music boxes, clocks, cameras and typewriters are fed into the mix, but where other artists incorporate such sounds, Schuster goes all-out. Children tend to enjoy this music, but also adults with childlike hearts: those who are still fascinated by the percussive effects of household objects or the joys of a made-up tale.
The difference between Tristesse Télescopique and other similar projects is that this album is clearly composed, which breaks it from the mode of twee. Whether lullaby or short suite, the tracks display a keen ear for harmony and tonal development. One can even imagine certain tracks being adapted for orchestra; swap the synths for strings on “Herzegovina”, and the track advances to the next level. This being said, the cover is a clear sign of maturity, but it may be too mature, as it provides little hint of what lies within. As demonstrated on this year’s Caelum EP (with Cypix), Schuster’s music also borders the electronic genre, and we expect that a few remixes will follow. The pumped-up drums of “Nîmes” indicate that it may be the first track to receive such treatment.
“Damascus” is the clear single, boasting a simple yet memorable melody that would sound great on a miniature music box (note to Schuster: consider making a batch!). One can imagine it being used in advertisements to produce a sense of wonder. Since the tracks are all around the three-minute mark, they lend themselves well to such uses. This short album may well be the start of something big.
Our only advice to the composer at this point is to increase the amount of dynamic contrast: include more portions of music in which the instruments drop out (for example, a clock/typewriter breakdown could be extremely effective). The receding calliope that closes “Bucharest” is a good start. Or add a few more sampled sounds: the flipping of pages in a children’s book, or even the skipping of stones (à la Amelie). In other words, continue to embrace the imagination of the inner child. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 4 September