The Treichler-Pizzi-Trontin Experience @ tHBBC (Cully Jazz Festival)

Described as “a laboratory of ideas, where you will assist the birth of creation live and direct, public jam sessions, pure sound research”, there’s a sense of anticipation in the air as I wait for The Treichler-Pizzi-Trontin Experience to take to the small stage at the Hundred Blue Bottle Club. It’s the last night of their OFF festival residency in Cully and a tightly-packed crowd of loyal Young Gods fans of all ages are giving off the distinct impression that something thrilling and unique is about the take place. It’s the coming together of well-seasoned, deeply-connected musical partners still capable of enthralling their audience with new ideas and aural concepts. The three musicians share a musical history of almost 30 years, yet everybody present knows that old school nostalgia is not on the menu tonight.

A tight whirlwind of gripping sound

Indeed, for those not familiar with the three-decade towering inferno that are Treichler and company, it might be a surprising sight to see men over 50 producing such a tight, trancy, experimental, head-nodding wall of sound. From the get-go there is a sense of journey, like being yanked onto a rhythmic train moving with pleasant urgency from station to station, hypnotising you with varying degress of intensity and volume along the way. Rhythms are created slowly, electro beats taking their time before coming at you like a whip and ensnarling you into a tight whirlwind of gripping sound.

 It’s a technological playground for bedroom rockers

Franz Treichler, the archetypal gum-chewing rock legend, weaves his often unintelligeble vocals in and out of the soundscape tapestry. His words are at times irrelevant and haphasard but serve to add a darker edge to the swirling, dubby rhythms. Interesting effects are used to create echo, reverb, loops and playback – it’s a technological playground for bedroom rockers who like their soundtrack trippy, hypnotic and just that little bit sinister. When things get a little too bouncy, Treichler comes in with a good dose of tough-love guitar to remind us there is beauty in light and shade. However, for me, the greatest of props go to drummer, Bernard Trontin, who steers a tight ship full of funky breakbeats and unparalleled rhythmic structure. Watching his dexterity and joy behind the drumkit is a rare delight.

Four questions to Franz Treichler
What was your reasoning behind “a laboratory of ideas”?

Franz Treichler: We were invited to do a residency at the Hundred Blue Bottle Club as part of the OFF festival at Cully Jazz. It seemed a perfect occasion to try out new ideas without the pressure of having to play Young Gods material. The OFF festival attracts a very open-minded audience at Cully, the atmosphere on stage is very free, basically ‘anything goes’. This felt appropriate for the band. Some ideas were born in the afternoon and played out the same night. Tracks changed every evening. I played guitar in a style I don’t normally use for The Young Gods, the same for my vocals – I couldn’t really call it singing, it was more sound improvisation and throwing things into the mix. There weren’t even any track titles, each piece was considered a session, a one off.

Why didn’t you bill yourselves as The Young Gods?

Franz Treichler: This would have changed the expectations of the audience and would have limited our freedom to experiment. We really wanted to create a mysterious vibe during the residency, encourage the listeners to be curious and progressive with us. Expect the unexpected.

What was happening on stage from a technical point of view?

Franz Treichler: Cesare and I both had computers loaded with programmes that activate sound, sequencing, loops and pitch. Our computers were synchronised so that I could affect what he was playing and vice versa whilst keeping in rhythm. It was a very free and interactive process, although I must admit that there were times when it was hard to know who was doing what! What we set out to create was a sound of elevation, (music doing the job of the drugs!)

Is this in some way the future sound of The Young Gods?

Franz Treichler: We’d like to do something for the next album that’s in a similar vein, by that I mean not totally sequenced. We’ve always been categorised somewhere between rock and electronic music. It would be good to expand our experimental ambiant side, something less structured, more free.

Band line up:

Franz Treichler – vocals, guitar
Cesare Pizzi – keyboard, sample
Bernard Trontin – drums

Découverte: Jibcae au Cully Jazz Festival

150411_053Mains jointes ou offertes, poing tendu, le corps ondulant ou sautillant, la chanteuse Claire Huguenin impose d’emblée son style très particulier. La vocaliste de Bulle dont tout le monde parle a choisi de dévoiler en formule acoustique son premier projet solo, Jibcae, au Temple de Cully. Jibcae est un OVNI musical qui tente des ponts audacieux entre des penchants musicaux et sentimentaux extrêmements variés. Claire Huguenin est du genre à frapper vite et fort. Pour donner le ton, elle enchaîne trois morceaux d’une intensité folle, dont un a cappella poignant. Elle happe ainsi l’auditoire dans son monde d’introspection, un monde le plus souvent obscur qu’elle illumine de son sourire, de sa voix et de sa gestuelle.

 Les limites du 100% acoustique

150411_056A ses côtés, le grand manitou du piano, Malcolm Braff, s’essaie à la retenue, la harpiste Julie Campiche développe les myriades de notes de son instrument avec parcimonie pendant que le bassiste Jeremias Keller (le seul instrument électrique) s’occupe de la ponctuation. Le concept des concerts du temple est de ne jamais sonoriser les ensembles. Difficile dès lors de brider les instruments par nature plus forts, dont l’imposant piano à queue de Malcolm Braff.


Little big woman

150411_087Ce qui n’empêche pas Claire Huguenin de continuer sans faillir son évocation de l’intime, des sentiments à fleur de peaux, des sensations pas forcément agréables, comme ce « Weary Dany » en duo voix-contrebasse qui évoque l’ennui. Le monde de Claire Huguenin est peuplé d’esprits, de gens qui ne communiquent plus, de ruptures, de fracas. Et sa voix fonctionne comme un écho à ses ruptures, ses cabosses, ses éclats de rire. Evidemment, l’équilibre est périlleux, difficile à tenir de bout en bout. Variant les modes, déstabilisant l’auditeur en jouant sur le tragi-comique, Claire Huguenin et ses musiciens taillent néanmoins leur route. Il faudra encore certainement quelques prestations live pour que ce projet atteigne sa pleine puissance. Mais le potentiel, la grâce et la trempe de cette « little big woman » (pour reprendre l’expression d’un Internaute subjugué) sont de ceux qui marquent durablement. Merci !

Le disque Jibcae de Claire Huguenin paraîtra en mai sur le label berlinois Contemplate
Prochain concert de Jibcae au Moods le 2 juin 2015

Elina Duni: Songs of Love and Exile

© Nicolas Masson

Elina Duni Quartet © Nicolas Masson

Elina Duni moved to Switzerland when she was ten, five years after she’d first stepped on a stage to sing in her homeland, Albania. Later, studying music in Bern led to a crucial meeting – with pianist and composer, Colin Vallon. It’s Vallon, along with drummer Norbert Pfammatter and now Patrice Moret on bass, who held a mirror up to Elina so she could see who she is and be free to draw on the rich cultural soil of the Balkans.

Elina’s second album for the major label ECM is Dallëndyshe (The Swallow) and listening to it immersed me in a bubble of ancient and distant lives where women call their loves ‘Ylber’ (rainbow) as they watch them leave green hills for work or, war. With titles such as ‘Nënë moj’ (O, Mother) and ‘Kur të pashë’ (When I Saw You), Elina describes them as ‘songs of love and exile’ but somehow the purity of the melodies and simplicity of delivery make them timeless.

What were you driven to express and explore in this album?

Elina Duni I think the word ‘timeless’ is very important in this case…You can feel the songs’ strength because they’ve crossed centuries and the melodies are archaic and deep. It’s this mixture of the contemporary perception each one of us has being a musician living in today’s world and the fact [the songs] are related to something that concerns all of us – we are all migrants, it’s the fate of all human beings: leaving behind something you love, going abroad, going from countryside to city, themes that are universal.

Where and how are did you find these traditional songs?

Elina Duni You may be surprised or maybe not, I found them on YouTube! Albanian friends are always suggesting songs and a friend of mine living in Greece put ‘Fëllënza’ on my wall on Facebook.

‘Fëllënza’ has a melody that has my dopamine triggers firing like Dirty Harry and Elina’s voice is so intimate you feel she’s singing with her head next to yours on a single pillow. Colin Vallon’s tangential arrangement steers it clear of saccharine-slush whilst on ‘Unë në kodër, ti në kodër’ (Me on a Hill, You on a Hill) he hypnotises, plucking piano strings like a cimbalom.

Elina Duni This is one of the songs where Colin wrote the arrangement with the bassline and the ‘mantra’, I had the melody and rhythm but he takes the song to another level…The three of them are wonderful musicians, they never play ‘1st degree music’. For me, art is the distance we take from things, it’s playing or looking at them in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th degree…Balkan music can be so pathetic [evoking pity] and it’s really a trap, somehow this distance from the pathos is the art.

When I started singing these songs Colin told me to imagine how Miles Davis would sing these themes – as simple as possible. When I do an ornament then it’s really thought out, I try not to do too much so when I do something it stands out. It’s the manner for the whole quartet.

You said that we live in a time where there is a need for poetry, say more about this.

Elina Duni Poetry has its own music, you can listen to a poem that you don’t understand and still cry with it… [the language] Albanian has something very interesting, it has a lot of sounds in it and it is a very, very old European language. It has Latin and Turkish words and, they say, also from the Celts, and it has something very deep and at the same time, strange.

Tell me about your childhood in Albania and how you feel about your homeland now.

Elina Duni There is a phrase, ‘there are two tragedies in life: to have a wonderful childhood and to have an awful childhood’. So, I had a wonderful childhood. In Albania it was another time that doesn’t exist anymore, there were no cars, no consumerism, no Coca Cola, no aluminium…we used to be happy when we could eat a chewing gum because it was very rare, or chocolate. We were raised in the neighbourhoods, everybody was going to everybody’s houses…and we were free. We grew up jumping, climbing the trees and running and fighting and being outside all the time…the imagination played a very important role. Everyone was writing poetry and reading…I think this was a golden time.

© Blerta Kambo

© Blerta Kambo

For me Albania is always inspiring, I go very often, it’s like all the countries that are transforming themselves, they have something alive there. Unfortunately Albanian society is still macho and patriarchal, it’s changing slowly, but there is a lack of models for women…The best thing is to educate women…and to show that being free is not being a sexual object which is hard because the media promotes this – and the singers too. There are so many in Albania, every good-looking girl puts on a mini skirt, makes a video clip and she’s a ‘singer’. I try to do my best to promote another model of woman.

What other projects are you doing?

Elina Duni I’ve been doing a solo project where I sing Albanian songs with guitar but I also did an album a year ago as a singer/songwriter where I wrote songs in Albanian so I’m going on writing, in French and English too…I love the quartet but I am trying to diversify so I’m writing as much as possible to find my way into music – which is not as simple when so many things have been done and you want to find your own original way at looking at things.

I still don’t know where all this is going to lead, the thing is I love acoustic music so maybe this can be a duo with voice and piano, it depends on who your partners are on the adventure, who you find. I would like to go more electric because it is a sound that really attracts me. These days there are no boundaries and you can explore without losing your identity. I love to sing my songs, that’s my biggest dream.

Elina Duni website

Elina Duni Solo
12.04.15 Cully Jazz Festival – Cully, CH
Elina Duni Quartet 
 Jazzkaar Festival – Tallinn, Estonia
Viljandi Folk Music Center, Estonia
Salle des Fêtes de Carouge – Genève, CH
Dampfschiff – Brugg CH
 Centralstation – Darmstadt, Germany
Treibhaus – Innsbruck, Austria
 Bee-Flat im Progr – Bern, CH
 Moods – Zürich, CH
Paradox – Tilburg, Netherlands
 Rote Salon – Berlin, Germany
Schloss – Thun, CH
Bibliothéque Universitaire et cantonale – Lausanne, CH

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