The Young Gods & Music of Landwehr Fribourg

The Young Gods & Music of Landwehr Fribourg
Photo 1: The Young Gods, © Charlotte Walker | Photos 2 and following : The Young Gods & Musique de Landwehr Fribourg, In C, 2023, © Biennale Son, photos: Laura Morier-Genoud

The Young Gods & Landwehr Fribourg's 'Play Terry Riley In C' band

In 1964, Terry Riley composed In C (which means "in C"), a work with an unprecedented structure. The score consists of 53 musical phrases (or riffs). The 35 scheduled instrumentalists - this number is not obligatory - must play all these motifs in order, and at least once before moving on to the next, each starting when he or she wishes. The performers can start at different times, creating a continuous polyphony of modules.

As a result, the score fits on one page for a work whose performances oscillate between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. Terry Riley advises the performers not to get too far ahead or behind the group, and to pay close attention to the sonic alchemy at play between them.

In C, a pioneering composition of musical minimalism, has never ceased to be the subject of multiple, lively interpretations around the world. On May 25, 2019, it will be performed in Freiburg by two very different ensembles, both of which are unfamiliar with this music. Benedikt Hayoz, director of the Landwehr, the official music corps of the State and the City, contacted Franz Treichler, leader of the rock band The Young Gods. The concert opens an exhibition on the links between electronic music and contemporary art. The musicians are distributed on different stages in the space of a former beer bottling plant, and the public is invited to circulate to experience the event in all its dimensions.

In 2023, the Son Biennale invites The Young Gods to take part in its first edition. Franz Treichler wants to relive the experience he shared with the Landwehr in Freiburg at the former Chandoline power station. In the meantime, the "Young Gods" have recorded the legendary song in live condition. Play Terry Riley In C was released by Two Gentlemen in 2022, on vinyl and streaming, followed by a Swiss tour. In autumn 2023, the tour is European.

"In C is like a game of life: you have to listen carefully to each other to make things work. You could say this is true of all music, but In C is more than playing together at the same time: this piece invites you into another dimension where past and future events are so intertwined that you remain constantly in the field of all possibilities"- Franz Treichler (The Young Gods)

The Young Gods

Born in 1985 between Fribourg and Geneva

Based in Geneva

Franz Treichler (vocals, sampler, computer, guitar): since 1985

Cesare Pizzi (sampler, computer): 1985 - 1988 and since 2012

Bernard Trontin (drums, electronics): since 1997

One evening in May 1985 at the New Morning, in an old industrial building near the Forces Motrices Genevoises, a band took to the stage for the first time, in front of a sparse audience. Franz Treichler, trained on classical guitar at the Lausanne Conservatoire, and Cesare Pizzi, bassist and computer scientist, already members of a punk band from Fribourg and newly established in Geneva, had enlisted the services of drummer Frank Bagnoud, soon to be replaced by Üse Hiestand. Their name is a Swans song, The Young Gods. Soon they'll be heard far and wide, and the biggest names will be quoting them, from David Bowie to Mike Patton.

What sets the Young Gods apart is their use of the sampler. The sound sampler is still a limited tool, but the musicians understand better than anyone the potential of this electronic novelty for composing chord loops, bringing in varied rhythms and borrowing sounds from the living world.

The following year saw the release of their first EP, with an inexhaustible title that gave them their name(Envoyé, Organic, 1986), followed by their first studio album(The Young Gods, Wax Trax!, 1987), hailed as record of the year by the British weekly Melody Maker. L'Eau rouge (Pias, 1989) was the last album with Cesare Picci, who was replaced by Alain Monet (Al Comet). In 1990, The Young Gods embark on their first U.S. tour.

As early as 1991, with an album in tribute to Kurt Weil, they showed their ability to go where they were not expected. From 1993 to 1996, it's the New York period: a contract with major label Interscope, the success of Only Heaven, tours as far afield as Australia... At the end of 1996, drummer Üse Hiestand is replaced by Bernard Trontin.

In 1997, The Young Gods returned to Geneva, set up their own recording studio and went back to being independent. Projects in the following years included a collaboration with anthropologist Jeremy Narby for a long series of sound lectures (Amazonia Ambiant Project) and an album.

For a time, the group was a quartet, with the participation of multi-instrumentalist Vincent Haenni. 2012 sees the return of Cesare Pizzi, Al Comet having converted to the sitar. The Young Gods documents / 1985-2015, 800 pages, published by Editions de la Baconnière in 2017.

In 2019, the year of the encounter with Terry Riley's work, In C, the release of the studio album Data Mirage Tangram was to have given rise to a new U.S. tour, shattered by the pandemic.

The Landwehr

Born in 1804 in Fribourg

Based in Fribourg

The first trace of the Landwehr can be found under the name Corps franc. The corps was formed to accompany the Fribourg military contingent, which Napoleon Bonaparte's Act of Mediation forced the creation of. Today, under the control of the Conseil d'Etat, even if its name evokes the defense of the country and its costume is that of the Fribourg troops in 1858, it is no longer preoccupied with battles, and focuses above all on music, between tradition and discovery.

As an official ensemble, the Landwehr takes part in the public and religious ceremonies that mark the life of Fribourg, and represents the canton at home and abroad. It has performed for peace in war-torn Croatia, taken part in the Columbus Day parade down New York's Fifth Avenue, been the guest of honor at a papal audience, and set the pace for the 700th anniversary of the Principality of Monaco.

With some 90 instrumentalists, the wind band has been led since 2018 by Benedikt Hayoz, who succeeded a woman, Isabelle Ruf Weber. A composer and horn player, he is only the third Fribourg native to lead the venerable ensemble.

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