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We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

Past Forward

by Grand Pianoramax

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Past Forward 02:37
Kite Delight 02:55
Wild West 02:41
Silhouettes 03:44
Cloudsurfing 03:53


Past Forward: From a graphic design studio in Moscow to a home music studio in central Switzerland, via the swimming pool of a Jakarta condominium.

To talk about to birth of this album I’ll actually start with the artwork, as it existed -in its early stages- before its music.

I accidentally came across a really cool calligraphy of Grand Pianoramax’s name, created by a graphic designer based in Russia, and which he shared on Instagram.

That happened in 2016. Back then our last album (entitled Soundwave) had been out for about a year, and I needed a break from Grand Pianoramax: it had been a rocky road to release and tour this last opus, both within the band and with the various people involved in the business and promo side of things. Grand Pianoramax had been steadily active giving concerts internationally since 2005, dropping a full-length album every 2 years and it was time for a long-overdue pause.

I still got in touch with Rodie the graphic designer, to let him know that I liked the calligraphy he had created very much, and that I might consider using it for future release. As a fan of Grand Pianoramax he was instantly open to the idea and we left it there.

Fast forward to summer 2019, during a very pleasant 5-week stay in Indonesia, where I decided to try get Grand Pianoramax back on tracks (we hadn’t been performing much since 2017 and hadn’t released anything since 2015). As I was brainstorming and taking notes from the pool of the condominium I was staying at in Jakarta, I quickly realized I wanted to get back to the roots of what Grand Pianoramax had first established with its debut album.

The impact of the « Starlite » track, starring drums modernist Jojo Mayer and first released as a single in 2004 on the then NYC-based ObliqSound record label was still vibrant to this day. Yet Grand Pianoramax, initially a stage alias for myself which got extended as the name of a steady band, went through various phases and line-ups that distanced itself from this original syncopated, nujazz-infused direction.

The calligraphy which was still in a corner of my mind while brainstorming naturally came back to my attention, as I felt it captured a certain retro feeling so well, appropriately illustrating this « back to the roots » idea. In parallel, sketches of new music were flowing through me pretty effortlessly, partly because the enthusiasm of creating material for Grand Pianoramax was finally back, and also because my Indonesian stay was providing the perfect low-key, pressure-free context in which I could be productive without feeling I was actually working or pushing myself to do so.

Dom, my partner in crime since circa. 2008 with Grand Pianoramax, originally as a drummer, then also as a co-author, co-producer and talented mixing engineer very quickly laid some drums on the demos I sent him. We met in person once only for this album (he’s based near Zürich and I’m in Geneva, a good 3 hour ride away). We then realized we could easily just share files and ideas back and forth, even though all of our music is primarily meant to be performed live, on our instruments.

As Covid hit shortly after this meeting early 2020, we could actually keep working from our home studios without meeting in person, and could include the guest singers (both very promising Neo-soul voices based in Geneva), whom I had known previously but didn’t meet once to produce the 3 vocal tracks featured on Past Forward.

Some months later after the music started to take shape, some adjustments were made to the calligraphy, Rodie apparently using a translation program in order to communicate, as we couldn’t have any real-time vocal conversation (neither in-person meeting of course). Somehow this distant way of trading feedback and ideas was appropriately fitting the overall process.

The last element possibly worth mentioning regarding how this comeback album took shape is its title, which most of the time is a challenge and sometimes even an agonizing process to find.

In this case, I thought the best title to capture this overall concept of going back to our roots, which is now what was then current and possibly a bit new, while naturally, I hope, taking it one step further now would have been something like "Back to the Future". But obviously this brilliant title was already taken. As I was sharing it with my longtime friend Barbara, she suggested Past Forward amongst a half-dozen other ones, not nearly as sharp as this one. It was approved by Dom and that quickly added the last missing piece to the puzzle, content-wise.

It is now about to start its digital journey (and on vinyl, if live concerts resume as planned), and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Leo Tardin, July 2020.


released September 11, 2020

Leo Tardin: piano, keyboards, co-producer
Dom Burkhalter: drums, co-producer, mix and mastering engineer
Gaspard Sommer: vocals on track 1 and 6
Angelo Powers: vocals on track 3
Rodion Ilyukhin: Artwork and calligraphy


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Grand Pianoramax Switzerland

After a 4 year break, Grand Pianoramax returns with « Past Forwards », a 7 track EP du out Sept. 11, 2020.
Resolutely jazztronica-infused, the full EP revives the aesthetics of Grand Pianoramax’s first productions such as "Starlite", which has since become an acid-jazz / live broken beat classic. In addition to 4 instrumentals, the EP includes 3 songs w/ guests Gaspard Sommer and Angelo Powers.
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