I grew up passing my teens as a differently thinking disturbance... My
father was a hunter, the influential Sha - a psycho-chromatic enthomologist
- from the tribe of the "Shametterlings" (he hunted Shmetterlings which the tribe smokes as a ritual against hollow spirits)...
Quickly retrieving into my own reality, I found the genuine brother-
and sisterhood of musicians to be my real family
When I was maybe 4 or 5 years old,
I witnessed a
live concert of Errol Garner which was to be a seminal experience. Sometime in
primary school, I was lucky to have
had a teacher that sensed and fuelled
my musical passion by getting me into an acapella choir of which I became one of
three soloists. I was very glad to have had that "extra-exposure", because it kept me from being more odd
than just a handful to everybody...
My brother Philippe put me
on to jazz, of which I remember a track called
"Comin Home" by Herbie Mann (written by Ben Tucker). So I enrolled the conservatory for (classical) flute.
At the same time, I kept on listening to all kinds of s o u n
d as remote as
firebrigade-songs, student-obsceneties, musak and/or
many other "styles". I adored the mexican arranger
Esquivel - the
founding father of the bachelor pop music revival of which J.J. Perry
was another, more popular exponent with stuff like "Popcorn". I remember adoring this weird french
sound creator - André Pop - who totally disappeared a good 25 years before he was rediscovered
In the early 60-ies, I received for christmas my first LP, the Beatles "Please
Please Me" and sometime in my early teens I borrowed a Farfisa organ to play with
friends and set up a band. I remember an Ultravox, some kind of dictaphone with recording
(instead of tape) with which I recorded bubbling mushed-potatoes, screetching doors and
more to let that play while we rehearsed’.
Always curious of new music and sounds, I was into
boogie-woogie a while and checking out the local record store, I discovered a
strange record sleeve
checked the tracks and read one "Opern-Boogie" by Georg Kreisler,
who was to leave an
indelebil mark on my future path. The guy was so incredibly good a wordsmith, that I
was never to write any words myself, but rather focussed on instrumental music,
although I cherish a vivid interest in the songform and in poetry. Hence Bob Dylan's 1964 release ("Bringing it all back home") was another big bang
onto my concience: I discovered Folkmusic and it's "derivative", the topical
songs, worksongs, consciousness songs etc. This interest in the 'small
tradition' was to lead to another seminal encounter (see 1989). 35 years later,
I picked up the topic of the macaberetist... (see 2008/9)...
When I was 15, I discovered the blues with a Blue Horizon record of
one Eddie Boyd (25.
1994), blues singer and pianist from Mississippi. Boyd came to England in the
early days of the British blues explosion and been backed by Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall
and the like. Eventually he played in Basel where I grew up and I was spellbound to
this man who became my first musical mentor.
Eddie showed me riffs, licks & tricks and much more!
I grew into the blues
checking out all those bands from the British bluesboom. Eddie would take me
with him on tour to acompany him as far as East-Berlin.
I was also listening to bands like "Them", "The Kinks" and others.
I vividly remember genuine revelations with the discovery of "Pet Sounds" (Brian
Wilson), although I never liked the Beach Boys' superficial commercial ditties
Anyway, I worked a whole summer long to buy my first stereo system, a real
thing with separate amp and big speakers in order to fully soak in all those
sounds I was attracted to. In order to "lock" myself 100 % into records, I discovered the subtleties of the headphones so much, that I modified one of those first
portable battery-fed mono (Philips)-cassetteplayers.
Id sew the player into my
jacket and as early as 1968, the ski-slopes saw probably the first walkman coming down with a bewildered
In spring 68, the "Monsterconcert" - a
festival in Zürich - was to be a seminal experience: John Mayalls Bluesbrakers, Jimi
Hendrix, the excentric shows of Eric Burdon and "The Move" smashing monitors,
blowing fume-bombs and what not, "Traffic" and others all playing at one
evening left an indelebil mark on my musical wishing list. Id listen interminably to
all kinds of music and eat books (Hesse, Camus, Po, Dostojewski, Bierce,
Besides listening to as many records I could, I continued playing flute with our
little band of friends. I also started to record gigs with a friends' stereo tape recorder (a Uher
In 1969, I went to London and then the Orkney islands and then back again through
Scotland. When in London, Id visit some clubs, checked out the carnaby
street and portobello road business (that was about to fade already), smoked plenty
shoeshine-creme and awakened my apetite to return to this fascinating city a year later
with a chum (the one that owned the Uher 4400). Wed check out the Ronnie Scotts and the Marquee. I remember
some fantastic music, a concert with Chris McGregors Brotherhood of Breath, Graham
Bond, Keith Tippetts Centipede, Nucleus, Gary Burton and many others.
1971, eventually, I went
to the french
part of Switzerland - to Neuchâtel - to finish school. In Neuchâtel, I enrolled the
conservatory masterclass with André Pépin (of Ernest Ansermets great orchestra).
However, I wanted a
bread-providing paper, too, so I graded 1973 with the diploma of the school of commerce.
Achieving the virtuosity at the conservatory around
the same time, I decided not to rot in the ditch of some provincial
orchestra or get bored as a music-teacher, I quit playing
flute. Roland Kirk and Jethro Tull having said it all (I believed). Hence I
attempted to earn my living commercially.
1973, after school, I got my first job at "Musik Hug" in
Neuchâtel in the records department. Pop music starting to lose its
fascination and having
discovered jazz and the avantgarde of Miles Davis and his off-springs, I started playing
guitar and sax and bought a Fender Rhodes.
I went through a period of pickin up many topical-songs, covering a lot
of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and other protest singers (lots of
performing e.g. in prisons)...
In 1974, leading the records department at "Musik
Hug" by now, I was sent to New York to purchase a container of cut-out albums. I took
advantage to take 3 months off and done a motorbike-trip with my oboe-playing buddies. We
drove from New York via Toronto all the way to Vancouver and then south down the westcoast
to kill my american dream, visiting all those hippie-sites I used to think I
was fond of. To pay the trip back (I couldnt sell my BMW-bike like I planned), I busked in
Vancouvers gastown playing guitar and harmonica, singing Woody Guthrie, Dylan, Boris
Vian and other topical songs.
In 1975 - the petrolcrisis striking - I was made redundant at
"Hug Musik" and in a whim of anger, I figured I could well open my own
Another issue also was to organise concerts, hence I launched Neuchâtels first
rock-gig in the newly restaured temple of the town. The only rock band that remained to my
taste was "Gentle Giant". The concert was a smashing success. More
gigs followed like "Van der Graf Generater" until I flopped with "The Stars
of Faith". However, at that gig I became aquanted with organist Jerome Van Jones and
yet more jazz.
In 1976, I joined forces with the late jazzdrummer Denis Progin to
open the jazzclub "Jazzland". Instead of setting up flippers and condom-machines
in a spareroom, I put up a little record store. In the evenings, Id ingeneer and
record the concerts. Since we werent allowed to sell alcohol (making the only real
money) if no band was playing, wed set up the club-stage as rehearsing platform for
my various bands ("Arthur", "Clever Bastards" and others). The lose
constellations of the bands enabled the club to always have live music (and
By 1978, I still got nowhere really with the recordshop and grew
tired to just spread news, i.e. be the record-guru that sells good taste; I
prefered to get news, learn more...
So I decided to get rid of my debts before I was 30 and enrolled as office-clerk in a
renowned industry ("Metaux Precieux"). Speaking fluently english, german &
french, I was sent around the world by the company (e.g. Hong Kong, New Delhi
In 1980, Métaux Précieux
wanted to buy me out by offering me a steep bowtie-carreer; hence I
quit (became confident enough to make it on my own). I ran into an oportunity to work as independant sales-rep for
advertising space (selling blue sky...). This and being indipendant musically made me travel an incredible lot and given
me more oportunity to discover places like SaudiArabia, Columbia, Ecuador, Spain,
and many other corners of the world. From these trips I always brought back instruments, records, scents
and sounds (tones & shades!). Because of "globetrotting while earning" I had the priviledge of not having to, not to make any concessions,
that is, to accept only work I liked to do and and "capture the ultimate SOUND"...
1981 I was offered to do some
music for a local film. I rented a mixing desk and an 8-track half-inch recorder, yet
another seminal experience. I was close to most of the members of the
anvantgarde-band "Débile Menthol", the Swiss exponent of the Rock in
Oposition movement. The band was to record the first album for Chris Cutlers
indie label RecRec. Often working with drummer Gilles "Dizzi" Rieder, we
recorded many ambiances requested for little commissioned jobs (movies, jingles). We designed many instruments ourselves or took to
sounding objects to obtain genuine sounds, making tracks with kitchen utensils,
canalisation tubes, drills and more. The age of sampling was not yet born, so we worked
with splicing tapes and loop them.
1982, I joined a band from Geneva ("Code") as
keyboarder and got me one of those wonder-synths (Sequential Circuits'
"Prophet 10"). The band was built around a genuine actor/poet/singer as frontman
(Dominique Stehlé) and a gifted guitar-virtuoso/tunesmith (Yves Roth). After 3 weeks of
rehearsals, we received some offers and toured 80 gigs in less than 3
months. Sadly enough, Dominique decided not to continue the band and it was out of question to
replace the man. A pity, there's only very little footage of this rocking unit
1983 was a year of lots of work as sales-rep in order to stock up
the financial belt. I was considering my own studio... On august 1st, Dominique
committed suicide. Enough reason to force the barn-studio-issue... Dominique's
departure saddened me to an extent never to play live again (I picked it up only a
decade later by playing Hammond with/for
1984, after returning from Colombia, I accompanied
"Débile Menthol" behind the iron curtain for several weeks in the
context of a culture exchange. What a great misunderstanding!: some cultural
offices of Hungary and Switzerland wanted to swap bands. Hungary settled for
their most popular hard-rock-copy-cat band ("Pandoras Box") to visit
Switzerland and Switzerland put its choice in the hands of RecRec who sent the
most weirdest avantgarde band
"Débile" to Hungary. It was agreed that the Swiss band would first support
Pandoras Box on a Hungarian tour and then Pandoras Box would do the same in
Switzerland. What a great time! It felt like a scene in the Blues Brother
movie: hard to bypass all those beercans and -bottles... The crowd (infatuous followers
of Pandora's Box and hard-rock-fans) thought we were putting them on... We had a great time!
1985, I continued to experiment laying down tracks,
building instruments, play sessions, program synths and/or produce friends while preparing the start of
a more sophisticated studio.
1986, the studio was ready (a 16 track one inch tape
machine, mixing board and some humble peripherie - all genuinly analog...). I released my first LP with a
choice of work from the past 5 years and founded the "Mensch Records" label at
the same time.
1987 I released the second LP "Manoeuvres dAutomne".
Often working as live-engineer, I done the stage monitoring for a little local
reggae-band. I invited them to come and
record with me and release a maxi single. I had no prior encounter with
reggae and I didnt know the whos who at all in that domain (the only reggae
experience I ever witnessed was back in 81: LKJ performing a capella with three dancers),
I decided to check things out and took the next possible flight to Jamdown (Jamaica). The second day after my arrival in Ocho Rios I met the
late producer W. "Jack Ruby" Lindo who introduced me to the real thing. One day,
we went for a rehearsal of three guys somewhere behind Port Maria up in the hills. Another
time Ruby took me to Kingstons Dynamics Studio to witness the recording of a session
with Sly & Robbie. In short: I dived deeply into the pulsating reggae-heart
in Jamaica and met a lot of incredible
musicians, buying loads of records and learning the intricate whos who in reggae (if
ever thats possible...).
One evening in Oracabessa outside Ocho Rios, I witnessed that
extraordinary phenomenom of thousands and thousands of fireflies blinking about. I was
mesmerized. In particular when I started to inquire, i.e. what these scarabaes meant to
I got the ignition to launch a concept for an extraordinary journey into differences
within cultures. My fascination for the bugs came like 'heritage' since my father was an
enthomologist and I already knew quite a bit about butterflies and bugs.
Eventually I met this great man from Wareika: Rico. Bucking up with him and finding a
mutual liking, Rico was to become yet another seminal encounter as much as Eddie Boyd was
20 years earlier. I told Rico that he'd be welcome in Switzerland... and after 2 months,
we went back to Switzerland,
finishing a.m. reggae band's recording (now fronted by Rico), and recorded a couple of naïve
little riddims and scetches about the experiences and fascination of Jamaica and its
firefly, the Peeni Waali.
1988, early in the year, I flew back to Jamaica again. I recorded more music and
overdubbed the riddims I had prepared. Amongst the friends Rico recommended to me where
percussion player Leon "Scully" Simms and Robbie Shakespeare. While shaping a
tune at Music Works down Slipe Road 56, Dean "Big D" Frazer was just finishing a
session there and hung around a bit after. He joined the party and blew us all away with
his trademark sax playing: a song was born from out of everybody, free like an impro,
original like nothing was premeditated, hence the title "A no nottn'"... The
was cast, I took the bait and was hooked ever since to this wonderful world of people,
country, idiom, paradigm, rythm-carrier that is reggae. I was amazed of the parallels with
blues and often wondered how come I was never turned on way earlier to reggae as much as I
was to blues. But this time I enjoyed the experience even more because I was more mature
and active enough to meet so many musicians that invented it. Blues had a kind of
legacy feel, something old whereas reggae appeared fresh.
Amongst the players I met was Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace whod become a
dear friend in the future and prevented me from a lot of trouble by making me dig even
deeper into Jamaica. Rico also introduced me to an old friend of his, Felix "Deadly
Headly" Bennet. After 2 months I returned from Jamaica to CH with plenty
new music on tape and moved location from
Neuchâtel to settle in the eastern part of Switzerland, in Jenins. At the same time, I
enrolled for two years at the office of the advertising company I was working for as a
freelance. Travelling became tiring...
Rico still being in Switzerland, he came over frequently to record for me and one evening
(at his birthday), hed come in with long time buddy from back the Jazzland-days,
Jerome Van Jones. It was a very old dream of mine to record Duke Ellingtons
"Satin Doll" with Jerome. Now with my new discovery of reggae plus
my apetite of experiment and new ventures, it seemed apropriate to do "Satin
Doll" in reggae. We took advantage to do "Blue Moon" the same night, too.
1989. Knowing that Rico had played on most of Linton
K. Johnson's albums - I've sent Linton a cassette with some tracks we were working on,
asking if he would come to Jenins and join in. Linton answered that doors might be
arranged to open... At the same time, Swiss TV approached me for a "Legalize
It"-show where they wanted to include some Swiss-Jamaican-music-connection. Question
was of Rico with that little amateur-reggae-band but Rico was tired to lace the
shoes of the amateur band and back to Jamaica, so we arranged for LKJ and the Dub Band to fit in this open door...
Eventually, after a soulful meeting with Linton and the charismatic Dennis Bovell,
"Beacon of Hope" clicked into place...
In august I met Lee "Scratch" Perry who lived in Switzerland and was eager to
find a weirdo open enough for all kinds of experiments. Obviously he found his
way to Jenins. He stayed for some 3 weeks. We experimented a lot, had a lot of fun.
Scratch recorded some 10 tunes but none was fit for release really. One day Scratch
offered to voice one of my riddims. I was surprised and mused, it would have to have a
connection with Peeni Waali, with light. We ploughed through some older tapes and found a
riddim (from "Manoeuvres dAutomne") that he liked and that could be
re-shaped. Jenins being close to Liechtenstein, Scratch rapped about "Liecht (light)
The album "Peeni Waali" took shape now. Some tunes date back as far as 1981 from
when I was in Jeddah ("Scarab") and making that filmmusic "Paper
Mensch" - a cynical elegy to office jobs. Eventually, enough tunes were
together to release an album in
1990. This same year, Linton came back to Jenins to harbour out the
premises to his own album "Tings An Times" that I had the pleasure of releasing
on my label. Towards the end of the year, I couldnt take the office any more and
moved to Basel. I brooded over all the tunes that didnt find space on Peeni Waali. I
wondered, how I could put the stake even higher. I figured I should harbour out more
tunes, went back to Jamaica in
1991 and continued to worship the old contacts, building
up the second serve.
1992 I went back to Jamaica yet again over new years. Although
the stay was musically fruitful, I experienced the darker side of Jamaica, got robbed 2
grand! To have been deprived of all existential means was an incredible
experience! People encouraged me to stay and accomplish my mission: finishing
the recordings I had planned. I became kinda "one of them", having no money, and
I was flabbergast to realize that it was only then that I discovered the "real"
Jamaica, the country of poor people helping out as much as they can. What a
warmth from all them people. I fed on pineaple and sometime Jack Ruby's Brother
who continued to run the "people's restaurant" in Ocho Rios, that is, he ran a
successful fish-barbeque, would offer me a fish from time to time. Eventually I
made my way back sound and safe with a lot of good music in the can.
1993 I moved again from Basel to Weite where I live today.
Selling in proper terms became more and more irrelevant, while the genuine
making/creating/inventing/producing new music for the sake of "looking inside"
grew to a predominant occupation up until today.
1994 was marked by plenty sessions. Getting to know LKJ better
through the years, naturally I met the players from the band, e.g. Steve Gregory and the
fantastic (well underrated) guitarist John Kpiaye, one of my favourite guitarists with
Shortly after the reeds sessions with Steve, brass-woman-extraordinaire Shirley A. Hofmann
clicked into the picture and many a tune bellied up hornswise the ever present trombone of
Now, sometimes one has to work for vein patrons; people who believe because they have
money, theyd get away with arrogance and foolishness. One of such speciman
(a sick money-sack) talked me
into producing his singing house-wife; an ill-fated project. The sort of things youd
never want to do again in your life. On this to be mainstream pop production,
I had to cast a set of skilled accompanying musicians which I found in the trio LArt
de Passage from Berlin who backed Swiss troubadour Linard Bardill. The meeting and working
with Rainer Rohloff (guitar), Stefan Kling (piano)
and Tobias Morgenstern (acordion) was a revelation for all! The relations with these
brilliant musicians made us quickly forget our money-spoiled boss and enjoy
making music. Being able to pay the players for a boring job (the house-wife episode), the
musicians were only too happy to make music for kicks while they were here and added their
talents to Peeni Waali.
Casting a backing band for that pop-flop brought yet another fantastic player:
violinist Helmut Lipsky from Montreal, Canada. Highly skilled, classically trained (a
pupil of Izaak Perlman), Lipsky liked the humour here and was happy to do something more
than just glue-pop. Youd find him fiddle, holding his Stradivaribum at his hips ...
Getting to use accordion extensively, I glanced in the direction of other
typical Swiss instruments such as hackbrett. Although it took me almost 2
years to convince this great and shy player Roland Schiltknecht. Eventually, a session
and a long lasting musical relation started (first producing Roland's solo
effort "Tunsch" and then combine our efforts on "Sha").
1995 saw the venue of Taj Mahal. I was in the making of a blues
rendering, a tribute to my musical mentor Eddie Boyd. However, Eddie passed away before I
finished the tune. While I was recording the bass with Dennis Bovell, I told him the
original plan and mentioned on the side, that Id have to abandon the idea, because
the only voice that I could imagine substituting Eddie - if ever - would be
someone like Taj Mahal. Now Dennis knew Taj, count two and two: next time, Taj toured in
Switzerland he came over and "Blues for Eddie Boyd" was in the can...
The same year I got married to Astrid and our son Linton-Linus-Maurice was born on july
1996 I released the CD "Kulu Hatha Mamnua", a re-release
of my first two LPs (1986 and 1987).
Steve Gregory recommended his old friend Georgie Fame to do some hammond licks in some of
my tunes. I knew Georgie works with Van Morrison as much as Steve did. And Georgie was the first British
bloke to play
with Rico as far back as 1962...
Listening back to the organ takes of Georgie Fame, I thought, the stake could be put even
higher, so I called Barbara Dennerlein. Wed set the logistics and a few days later,
Barbara came over and blew me away by not only being an extraordinary player, but also a
very charming, wit, great to work with beautiful person.
When I mixed the Sudanese/Egyptian band Sharkiat, Ive got to know this fantastic
qanun player Hossam Shaker. During his stay he was curious to hear what kind of music
Im doing, so I played him some raw tunes. He took to it immediately, improvised to
it for fun and of course, it didnt take long to mike him up and he joined the party
with another colour, another exotic touch (sic).
While recording another album for Bolot & Nohon from Altai, a similar situation
ocured. They were curious to hear some of my stuff. I suggested theyd bring in their
throat vocals on the one harmony riddim ("Sleep Dub") to accentuate even more
the monotony but enhance the trance-like feeling you can come into with simplicity.
"Strekosas (Peeni Waali in Altai language) Chant" was also a welcome
change to all the complicated scoring and intricate musical structures of many of the
I did an awful lot of work that year. Much of it for others. 6 CDs were to be
released from that work. Consequence didnt wait too long: I fell severely ill with a
spooky vertigo that struck me down into a state of vegetable for a good 2 months
(couldnt walk anymore, hospital and all). Tobias came all the way from Berlin just to
kick my ass and tell me: get up, man, and walk - while Linton phoned once a week
to the house and cheered up my wife and the kid - thanks, mate, still - 15 years after!
Time to slow down, then. I decided to focus much more on the creative,
productive side than to hustle for a little sale, leaving more freedom to get to
the essence of music making: what's there to be achieved (rather then what's
there to gain...). Since
1997 Im a house-man, leaving me still some freedom to work in
the studio. I recorded the first solo-album of acordion-acrobat Tobias Morgenstern. Lee
Perry came again, too, and wanted me to produce some tracks for him in exchange of voicing
another track for me ("Nice Time in Swiss").
I released the second serve of Peeni Waali ("The Return of...") on
september 4th. In autumn I was honoured by hosting and recording LKJ and the Dennis Bovell
Dub Band, recording the album "More Time".
1998 saw the 10th Mensch Records release "Morgenstern" and
plenty of work for yet another Peeni Waali round.
1999 I went shortly to London to do a session there with Eddie "TanTan"
Thornton, Johnny T., Rico, John Kpiaye and Steve Gregory, finishing a few more tunes for
a new venture, the closing act of a twelve-year scetch-book /
composition cycle, to finish off with a 'trilogy of Peeni Waali'...
Ive also just
re-released the first Peeni Waali album (1991) as "The Dawn of Peeni Waali".
In august, our second son Andri-Dennis-Rico was born. Yet another reason to seek
the outdoor of mere business. Still...
Beginning 2000 I released that last sequel "The Eve of
Peeni Waali"..., a double-album - the end of an eara?
:-) Leaving a little afterthought on that Peeni Waali experience/journey:
The idea to it was born out of a series of chain-reactions,
coincidences if you like, luck - I guess but mostly by meeting people.
Here in central Europe we can dare say, that we live in oppulence. Now, when I discovered
reggae, it came like a blow: how can this minimal music fit with our oppulent roots? Marry
fire and water... Be acrobat and illusionist at once, fabricate emotions and dreams to
suit the audience... (Did I reach my target here? Youll decide!). Isn't provocation
like some vital salt?...
It wasnt a fabricated vision or concept I had when I started
up reggae road. And certainly not just 'fiddle with world-music and the hipnes
(sic). Im aware that out of not being able to put Peeni Waali into a
basket, into a confirmed style/drawer it will be thrown in the basket of
"world music", though.
Its as absurd as when bankers tell you: let your money work for you. Did you ever
see money work?
Hence, I drifted along the making of Peeni Waali more like
intuitively. When I liked someone, I wanted to make music with. A collaboration would
continue when there was enough elements and will to experiment, jump over ones own
shadow, the principle of lust a priority, emphasize on Exchange and Equity.
Its never been so much a question of "who hires who" but rather a matter
of invitation: some artists arrive, a feast is to be prepared! The artist leave, a great
times been behind - and some traces remain as music...
That way Peeni Waali sort of worked itself out
within the process of doing (empiric construction?). Im extremely happy that
mercantile criteria always came last. Sales are still disappointing, though. However,
Im not frustrated at all, because these pages turned - a twelve-year work in
progress! - it brought me an awful lot in terms of meeting outstanding personalities.
Gain, as opposed to earn... (is there an "earn"-button on any mixing-console?).
Another aspect that materialised with the project growing was my
determination to use organic instruments as opposed to virtual instruments
(plastic that shines). Theres nothing like the real thing! I find it absurd to
substitute a hammond organ with a synth and always disliked plastic horns.
However to reach impossible things with machines - that I also use extensively - is a fun task. I remember when I bought my Prophet 10 synth, I was plowing the manual to
check what it couldnt do and spent nights to do just that! The
essence of using "real" instrument is that they can only be played by real
people who understand and work such an instrument. As opposed to the "virtual"
instrument that can be programmed by a failure... However, there is a great
challenge in that, too, but that's another issue (check out the latest works on
What about the credo of using real, genuine musicians,
the craft, the art of doing real things as oposed to the virtual music
world, using computers? Well, in a way its like some sanctified battle
to fight for that species in danger of vanishing: man playing an instrument.
Lets say, that producing, e.g. realising ideas by players on one end and the
technical gear it needs on the other, obviously involves computers. But I dont feel
a contradiction here. Id rather see it as complementory. You just cannot bypass
computers today. They take a central space in a recording environment. Speaking of
central (the middle), I dont seek the golden middle
figuratively. Look at it in an Arabian way: the middle according the coran is tabu. Not
that silly if you figure the mongoloid who dont know wrong from right. Hes in
the middle. Hes tabu. Dont you dare bothering him.
Moreover, I love extremes, by preference extreme juxtapositions. Isnt it the salt of
life? And isnt an extreme far away from the middle, from the center, the computer?
Just take the computer as a rope on which you dance. Now you need a balancing rod. And the
higher the rope, youd want a longer rod. Look at this rod as your creativity. What
you do with it, depends just on you and your ambitions. The longer the rod, that is, the
farer away the two ends (the two extremes), the wickeder steps you can venture.
Looking back now its quite pleasant to stand behind every step
I done (no regrets - except maybe never having seen Otis Redding live...). Running Mensch
Records independantly for now almost 30 years left me musically wide-spread, producing without
commercial concessions, leaving enough freedom to record a great variety of different
music, targeting originality. Ethic: music from homo sapiens to sapiens.
Anyway, so a new century with great changes ahead, again?...
With the second child taking up too much time to get eclectic and concentrate on
composition, I thought it would be a good pass-time to play live again for a while,
in order not to lose touch, so...
in 2001, I joined a
little local r & b band ("Gumbo") and enjoyed
the simpler life of rythm'n'blues, romp and stomp live just for fun...
In 2002, I tried out some recordings and mixing of "Gumbo" and done 'alimentary' work like a project for a language-school in
Liechtenstein or speaking telephone-horoskopes while preparing the upgrade to harddisk-recording.
In 2003, we were rudely
kicked out of the house we lived in for 10 years. We had 12 days to pack and
leave! Pure chaos, no alternative place to go, all our belongings bomb-shelled
in 20 different locations; pure dread! But in may, after 20 days of being
homeless, we were lucky enough to
find a place for rent again, so at least the kids get back to normal. The house didn't hold
enough space to set up a working facility (for making music) and it took me rather rudly not to do
I was given the challenge to compile an "LKJ in concert" project from some 20
shows around the world. And in autumn,
after having been homeless and having to accomodate with a 'temporary flat' (no
musical activities possible), luck smiled on us again and I managed to buy
a house with a barn for the new studio, which was built for the most part of
In early 2005, I was
invited by Lars Hollmer to play accordion with him for a gig in
the village of Weite.
2005 has also seen the arrival of
Khan Bogd, a 10 piece ensemble from Mongolia to record 2 CD's. It was a real
treat to host these fine musicians from so far. I always enjoy to see a band
play and record them. In particular, when the music is fresh and the band ready
to play without tedious overdubs and technical mumbo-jumbo. Ever since the
studio was functional again I started working on a drum'n'bass project with Hackbrett-friend Roland Schiltknecht.
At the end of the year, I started to record short stories and little poems written
by Assi, the mother of our two sons put to music
2006 sees the release of
Zeiten", the album with Assi's words... There was also a great recording
session of rootsical music from Uganda (two CD's for the Face Music label) and
"Bann", another solo excursion of my Sha-partner Schiltknecht.
2007 was an intense time of enlarging
the barn and the atelier with a bright,
inviting guest-room for eventual indoor-recording. Besides some sessions with Betty Legler and Hubert Osterwalder,
some work for a local band, there was this neat
remake of White Noise's "Hidden Dreams" with Heinz Vetsch. The keyboards on "Hidden Dreams" where
brilliantly harboured out by Hybrid Kid (...)
award from Spectrasonics may give a hint, what kind of productions we cherish...
(t'was very sweet to have been directly adressed by Spectrasonics director and
creative mastermind Eric Persing...).
I made the music for two films, one of which was for
communication centre "Metapuls".
Then I had the pleasure to record and mix two CDs with/for the Mongolian
ensemble Khan Bogd again. This time as a quintet.
For our birthdays (...) Steve Gregory came for a creative stay and blew his
genuine trademark on six pieces I'm working on for fun:
- In summer, my elder son had to do some housework in music and I helped him working out a
rap (a cool cover of
Fanta Vier's "Die da"). For fun I recited him the final stanza of
an austrian cabaretist's
rap ("Opern-Boogie") which I still knew
by heart since my early teens, which left him puzzled and which triggered the
desire to harbour out an ambitious "tribute
to Georg Kreisler". Sadly enough on Christmas Lars Hollmer passed away.
2009 Due to lack of "Füdlä" of people I tried to convince/invite
to participate in that Kreisler-venture, I abandoned the plan and focused rather on
having a joyful noise with Alan Kushan, with whom we laid down the foundations in for an incredible "buffet" of scents, flavours, tones and shades
for me to dwell in for the next humpty weeks/months/years, to "build up" another journey of
just joyful noise (Alan's secret wish probably being to see a sequel to "SHA"...
- but I wasn't ready to go for another CD ever again...). In any case, Alan conveniently klicked in the place for
some extraordinary solos on some isolated works, amongst which a "just for fun" cover (in reggae) of Simon Dupree
& the Big Sounds' "Kites" or the Amsterdam Klezmer Band's
wonderful "Son" piece.
Just before my old buddy Heinz Vetsch left us in summer (R.I.P.), there was yet
another cover left unfinished
on the workbench, this time a piece of political
activist Robert Wyatt
(with fantastic contributions again from Morgan Fisher).
Record sales going down the drain since several years now, it strengthens my
position/conviction (since 1997), that making music here means much more than
vile commerce, so I announced "officially going out of business". Of course, I
will continue all the more and all the more unfestered by expectations,
speculations/gamblings, mercantile considerations. It is very pleasant to
realise this potential totally "in the shade". What comes, comes when it's good
continue to make that film music for the movie that's not been
made yet... - of which I put together a private edition/release CD AGR 016:
"Music for the blind - with booklet for the deaf"...
Alan Kushan came back again and stayed for 3 months, subrepting me to going at it
again! I tailored a body to some of Alan's scetches/demos and clearly a new
challenge triggered my enthousiasm: to make a CD with a main vocalist for once.
The pieces grew and grew and the vocal became more and more "just" one more
instrument. The "extra-content" it carries are abrasive lyrics against the
shit-stem. Read more about this new album "Shab Tab".
In autumn I underwent a private quantum-leap in personal consciousness... I could explain it for you, but I can't understand it for you...
...suffice it to say, that it turned out to be incredibly forward for the music...
I discovered that I wasn't interested in music!
A big shock in the beginning, but then it's been a challenging gift, and I found
out, that after all it's the s o u n d
I'm after, and always have been! I been fooled into studying music only to find
out that music is just a kind of "waste product" of this huge thing which is
And all the musicians of one sort (e.g. raga musicians, jazz-ers, rockers,
classiquers etc.) think, only their music is the "only good" music... Yet, all
these musics are always and only one tiny tip of the block, the block of sound
we haven't seen in the slightest way in its entity.
Probably "sound" is more like a dimension. Like "time"...
We make music out of sound and we make present and past out of time. More likely
out of non-comprehension what these dimensions really are. We know that they
affect us, like reality, but yet reality must by far not be a "truth".
Anyway... it leads me to a much more deep comprehension of the little I know and
of the zillion possibilities there is to making music.
I can perfectly relate now why I was never "successful". I've always liked most
any kind of music. I never had a band with a single style. And if so, only
very briefly, because I'd move on to different styles. I'd get bored to repeat
an achievement (if that is possible at all).
Finding interest in any kind of music, my own stuff doesn't fit in one single
style of music, I can't surrender to a drawer (for the sake of a steady public?...).
I use whatever element apeals, is at hand, pleases, intrigues. Each day brings a
new sound. Each period (e.g. each recorded "data-sheet" of such momentary
infatuations) represents just a little glimpse of the stage I was at while
meeting these new musicians, having travelled that country, heard that sound
And the next "data-sheet" might baffle the previous possible "followers". I'm
not surprised today that a lot of reggae-afficionados doubt my roots (...sick...),
feel they are betrayed because I don't reproduce the drawer reggae like it ought
to be reproduced (like they perceive reggae) etc.
And each recorded "data-period" was only and ever just a comma... just a joyful
Such transcendation made me discover new ways of making music. I tend to leave
the "safety belt" of structured, arranged, controlled "output", I loosen the
Johnny Controlletti syndrom to accept whatever sound is given to me in a single
circumstance. There is no need to "shape" or "blue-note-ify" anything. Music
cannot even be really canned. It's a moment of present, made past with a
sound. I enoy more and more the loose making music, hooking off "secure paths",
hooking off power (and its plugs), hooking off the craving to reproduce what was
planned, to get exposure, recognition, admiration (...) etc.
2011 came an invitation sort of to play piccolo within a little marching band
in Basel, which was to end sometime in 2013 due to lack of rehearsing (I was
simply not requested anymore)...
Reading a superb fantasy-novel by Walter Moers ("The City of
the dreaming Books", i.e. "Die Stadt der träumenden Bücher") which triggered the
idea to make a film-music to it (one of those films that are yet to be made...).
When Alan revisited, I started to build up some videos with him, based on - or
rather tailored to - the story of this novel. I contacted Moers and we stayed in
touch ever since. The film of the book altogether was shelved. Very sad, but I
continued to make music "on that inspiration" anyway which triggered another
In the meantime I abandoned completition of the related videos, too, although
there were some fun moments:
Shama Ninja Pan
Mother of Life
From Mahab to St-Saens
Shab Tab (original)
2012 No. 17 of my "recording catalogue" was released:
for my 60st birthday
- basically only the 17th page of my guest-book, of who's been passing here to
leave a pleasant sound.
2013 in february, I discovered the great trio "Hadouk" and went to see them
in Paris, to invite french wind-instrument-maestro Didier Malherbe. While
orchestrating more of such pieces for "Die Stadt der träumenden Bücher", Didier
let me film a little "for fun"-solo on Shab Tab, which then became the Shab-Tab
The fun of making videos also led me into another adventure: practicing as usual
in the morning, I was playing a piccolo piece called "Lumpesammler" and at some
point, LKJ would step in from his guest-room and said, he liked the piece, too,
and could well imagine to do (and play) a bass-line to it...
This then would wind up into another fun video, but most people from Basel's "carnaval
diaspora" advised me not to pursue with this "wacky" idea, because maybe the
composer of the piece wouldn't like it at all, and there was some reservations
about the musical 'correctness' (harmonically), which revealed to be pure
bollocks and sheer resentment... I still pursued the undertaking and contacted
the great and fantastic drummer, Ivan Kym, to write a dedicated drum-score for my "adaptation".
What I didn't know at the time, was, that Ivan was best friends with the
composer, and - of course - would immediately communicate this to the originator,
2014, at the "Morgestraich" (the opening act of the carnaval in Basel) the
composer of "Lumpesammler" leaped at me in the streets, all dressed up with mask
an all the rest of it, and said: "don't change a thing on that piece, we must get in touch"... and off
he was (we were both fifing and on the move)! Soon after the carnaval, I met
this fantastic person (an incredible flute player and flabbergasting maestro)
and we started to crank the video up with more wackyness...
Lumpi's nei Goschdym
...even ventured a dub-version of it:
In summer, I disbanded "Gumbo" within a last "goodbye concert".
Friends filmed it from which I culled three videos:
Unfinished (dedicated to Pascal Cuche) & Forgotten
Passing a coupla of medical
upheavals (...), I still missed not to be part of a band anymore, i.e. play at
Basel's carnaval. Hence, Lumpesammler's maestro/friend ventured, I should write
my own little march (he helped me with invaluable instructions, scoring, lay-out
etc.) and see what happens then.
2015 I went to the carnaval just to check out the scene. Meeting plenty new people and great players, it all seems
to pick up momentum in a mellow steady flow. Kartharsis! Period...
Eventually, the hype of a "new guy" is coming up with a "new tone", i.e. a new
piccolo piece written for the extraordinary new bass-piccolo (a wonderful
instrument), circulated. The mouth to ear "propaganda" catapulted me into a new
band "the yellow teckels", with whom I would pick up momentum and learn yet
another ten pieces...
Then, this - my first - piccolo piece had it's premiere in Basel, in November...
The saddest moment in some ways this year, was to
learn that, on my birthday, my friend and mentor Rico had passed after a year's
struggle to cope with health problems. He made so many thousands of people happy
with his great sound. R.I.P. Astonishing "coincidence" (I'm happy, I don't "believe"
in anything particular, and particularily not in coincidence): so Rico died on
my birthday, was born on oct. 17th, the day my mother died, while my mother was
born on july 13th which is the day my other mentor - Eddie Boyd (see above) -
I started to
write a follow-up to last year's "enfant terrible" and launched a
instructor page, where you can rehearse with music-minus one_like tracks for
The target is to release more cool piccolo music (not necessarily only my own
creations) and "expand" the musical horizon, if there is such a thing at all.
Particularily with the arrival of the Bass Piccolo, masterfully manufactured by
wizard Tom Aebi,
the piccolo music of Basel receives a new "wing" to its music with
that mellow sound, much less shrieky than the traditional ear-buster-piccolos.
It's really cool to write low counter-points that become their own individual "first
voice" within the traditional 3 to 4 voiced mode so far...
However (sadly enough), the "milieu" of Basel's piccolo players (the
"Teig") is - for the majority - more dedicated to the event (of the
carneval) itself than to the focus of practicing the instrument...
As a "side-event", I was given the privilege to enter the writer's
guilde: Archie Patterson of Eurock,
(an on-going good relation since over 30 years), published some thoughts (namely
about sound) in his american 2015 publication. He calls my writing-debut "free
source grammar" (which is meant to be!)...