alpine and persian inflections, drum & bass oriented improvisations,
remixes, dubs, ambiances,
collages & genuine creations
from the work in progress of Peeni Waali and Schildpatt
featuring santur master Alan Kushan and all the other masters
others than us on the internet say about this mysterious album...
With the encounter of "Tunsch" (AGR 011, 1999) and its soundscapes heavily
dripping from the swiss hammered dulcimer - the Hackbrett - I mused, what if we
keep this rootical instrument but add a more modern aspect to it than "just
jazz". Roland (Schiltknecht), the hackbrett player, surprisingly took the bait
and so we "visioned" the incredible vault of improvisations he had
recorded while playing for months with the great santur master Alan Kushan.
The santur is the persian ancestor of our national instrument - the hackbrett,
which was kind of 'pushed away' with the arrival of the accordion at the end of
the 19th century.
We culled 4 condensed hours of improvisations out of which I extracted 3 pieces
which I 'moulded' into a time frame so to lay grooves and other soundscapes
This result made us want to add other facettes to the blend. e.g. Roland's
brother Gabriel brought a balafon tune to which the incredible instrumentalist Ljubo
Majstorovic added a balkanic "wing" (hence the title "Balakan").
I played with
some remix ideas and picked one piece from Schildpatt (the Schiltknecht
brother's former live-constellation) and the now 20 year old "Beacon of Hope". With the arrival of the voice, we thought it interesting to have
- besides the alpine aspect - yet another
guideline through the album, adding a voice to (almost) each tune and present
like a "call" from different corners of the world.
While recording other bands (e.g. like the fantastic mongolian "Ensemble Khan
Bogd"), I always try to obtain a contribution from such 'outer-worldish'
recordings. Which is how the mongolian poem took birth (in "Kuh Sha")
Bi mongol Chun
Argaliin utaa borgilsan
Maltschnii gert törsön bi
Atar cheer nutgaa
Oelgie min gej boddog
Tsencher manan suunaglasan
Alsiin baraag shirteed
Tselger saichan nutgaa
Setgel bachdam charachad
Uleej baigaa salchi ni
Unseed ch baigaa jum schig
Oerschöölt eejiin min gar
Ileed ch baigaa jum schig
Enerengui saichan sanagdachad
Eleg zurch min dogdloj
Chosgui bayariin nulims
Chojor nudiig min burchdeg.
(a mongole sits on a mountain and contemplates his surrounding.
Thinks how beautiful home is. He feels the wind caressing his cheeks,
like his mother used to.
Tears fall in his joy.)
And as so often in the creative
process, while producing "Manoeuvres d'automne"
(an industrial music project), I
discovered a phenomenon, since when I keep my ears stiff all the time: we built
a gigantic symphony of frogs, from swamp- and other nature_recordings. To do
this at the time (in the early eighties), sampling was out of financial reach,
so we really "built" the puzzle with individual tape snippets, printing it with
industrial metal noise.
It is magic, how this frog-symphony is "unmuteable", it "adapts" to any tonality,
to any groove and I keep using it every once so often... (check it out on "Canabeat")
- or see "Kulu Hatha Mamnua".
Another fond memory is how the
farsi rendering of 12th century poet Saadi took place (in the long version of
"der mit dem Derwisch...") or the african dialogue in "Balakan". It's not
sampling per se, but very well a contribution of fine musicians that passed here
and left an indelebil mark. Yet it's meant exclusively to be "just music", there
is no pretentious "cultural message", it's purely "a joyful noise" with an
incredible amount of thoughtful details attached to each tune.
Obviously Roland wanted me to throw in a reggae, so I culled two ostinati from
another recording he was making at the same time ("The Alpine SoundScapes
Trio"), invited my old friends Rico and Steve Gregory, called in my
neighbour (guitarist Hubert Osterwalder) and 'Sha-King Reggae' took
While plowing through my own vaults within the "hunt" of voices, I picked up
that muezzin I recorded in Jeddah sometime in 1980 (and used on two previous
recordings). It fitted perfectly on one of Kushan's improvisations. I "married"
the voice to the tune with a simple bass-line that "uncoupled" the arab scale of
the muezzin into a chorale-like blend.
However, with the explosion of the "Danish prophet-caricature drama" and the overall
frenzy of the topic (...), I decided to better inquire before releasing such a 'dangerous'
thing. I inquired via internet forums on the topic and was advised from other
sides, too, to leave the muezzin out, because there might be people to take offense in
Although the sure (verse 30:39, Ar-Rum), which the muezzin recites, is a
peaceful, non-fundamentalist aphorism to which anybody can relate, really, Quran or not
وَمَا آتَيْتُم مِّن رِّبًا لِّيَرْبُوَ فِي
أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ فَلَا
يَرْبُو عِندَ اللَّهِ وَمَا آتَيْتُم مِّن
زَكَاةٍ تُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ
اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُضْعِفُونَ
"That which ye lay
out for increase through the property of (other) people, will have no increase
with Allah. but that which ye lay out for charity, seeking the Countenance of
Allah, (will increase): it is these who will get a recompense multiplied"
But I decided against the use in order not to offend the muslim
comunity. However, I didn't want to lose the 'melody' of the muezzin, although -
I was told - a muezzin's chant has nothing to do with a 'melody'
but is just 'an inflection'.
So I analysed all the consonants and the vowels of the muezzin, juggled and
inversed them and sang this new 'esperanto derwish' myself, driving the voice
through a megaphone to make it sound "authentical"...
Now, the muslim comunity rewarded me with compliments of how respectful I am,
because I took care to inquire and respect the "tabu" (putting the Quran to
music). And no infringement of intellectual property ought to be claimed either
I mused that it's yet another eresy of this world: so I want to spread a
peaceful message from a prophet but I take the risk to be assassinated by some
wicked, narrow-minded fundamentalist. And opposed to this situation, I spread a
meaningless/nonsensical stanza and earn respect? We don't have to wonder then, why people
elect marshmallow for presidents!
The sure basically just "recycles" the zoroastrian thought "do and think good
onto others and good will become onto yourself" (all this very long time before
any Mohammed, any Koran and/or any Allah... (and most probably before - but
certainly without - any fundamentalistic aproach of a doctrine)...
Anyway, there was another new thing I wanted to try out once: sampling today is
common practice. It's said that it's only the 'genius' of finding the right bit
that makes the samplist an 'artist'... I've never heard a collage of samples
culled from just one 'idiom', e.g. one band. And there is one band I used to be
very fond of, a band that triggered my interest in 'the difference' (of pop
music), a band that I learnt to know personally because I organised a
them in Neuchâtel, a band called Gentle Giant.
I was always fascinated by the sheer amount of details they included in their
pieces, so I sampled bits and pieces and mount a
collage-like 'solo' of Gentle Giant. Out came this weird 11/8 funk ("Sha Zoo").
In any event, the project took a very versatile shape, perfectly corresponding
to my beloved playground: a vehicle to feature an abundance of instrumental
craft and diversity, a fun enough patch of songs to ask the most gifted players
to join in.
As the modern technology has it, that we can record today so to speak "over
the phone", I took advantage of my network-casting (...) - knowing a lot of
friends and good musicians spread all over the planet - and had Barbara
Dennerlein playing Hammond at her home in Münich, Sylvain Gagnon play a
bass in HongKong, Matt Weeks record a track in England, Raphael Zweifel do me the
cello in Paris etc.
A technical new world music, sort of... but I'm very happy to still have recorded
most of it "face to face" here in my atelier.
With all these different techniques - besides the already widespread roster of
musicians and 'styles' - I didn't want to leave out a 'live-experience'. One day,
I invited old friend Lars Hollmer to come play in the village where I live.
Since I never actually played with Lasse, we ventured that this would be a good
occasion to fill in that missing gap (since the 30 years we know each other!).
So we played in a restaurant around the corner for an hour or so - just two
accordions - and enjoyed our musical meeting. Having recorded the gig, I found
an excerpt that perfectly matched for a cross-over of two pieces (between the
long version of "Der mit dem Derwisch" and "Tierfehd City").
Setting up a running order of all these very different pieces was yet another
extraordinary discovery: many pieces seemed almost to "belong together" naturally,
so I 'tightened the belt' and blended them together with smooth cross-fades inbetween;
tunes that otherwise have nothing to do together...
...always carefully watching that
the alpine roots is a prevailing tenor.
Anyway, it's just a joyful
noise, after all... and a fine guest-book of the Mensch House...
PS.: we are very proud to receive feedback from those
fantastic musicians that obviously seemed to enjoy to be with us, too
see also Track Info
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