Interactions: A Guide to Swiss Underground Experimental Music

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Manuel Troller - Hologram (3:15) Guitar and music by Manuel Troller Recorded December 4-6, 2017 at Suburban Sound Studio in Winterthur, Switzerland. Engineered & recorded by Manuel Egger. Mixed by Manuel Egger with Manuel Troller at Suburban Sound Studio. Mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. Track taken from Vanishing Points, published by three:four records, 2018




9/11 Lima (PE) Espacio Fundación Telefónica
12/11 Bogotá (COL) Matik Matik
13/11 Medellín (COL) Parque Explora
15/11 São Paulo (BR) Sesc Pompeia
16/11 Rio de Janeiro (BR) Desvio


16/11 Buenos Aires (ARG) Te veré Llorar Festival/Roseti
17/11 La Plata (ARG) Sala Astor Piazzolla
19/11 Montevideo (UY) UUU
21/11 Santiago (CL) Sesiones CPI
23/11 Valdivia (CL) Relincha Festival
24/11 Valdivia (CL) Relincha Festival

Interactions: A Guide to Swiss Underground Experimental Music is a double compilation curated by Luis Alvarado and published by Buh Records, which brings together 27 works by more than 30 artists from the current experimental music scene in Switzerland, in a variety of sounds, ranging from free improvisation, ambient and industrial music, to synthesizer music, sound collage and more, which gives an account of an intense activity of the Swiss underground that runs through cities such as Zürich, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne, Basel, Biel, Chiasso and Lucerne .

This compilation includes works by Rudolf, Martina Lussi, Papiro & Yanik Soland, Manuel Troller, Niton, Therminal C, JMO, Flo Stoffner, Christian Müller, Erb/Loriot/Morishige, Noijzu, Christian Kobi, Alvear/Bondi/d'incise, Julian Sartorius, Joke Lanz, Jason Kahn, Tout Bleu, Belia Winnewisser, Souharce, Laurent Güdel, Dave Phillips, Denis Rollet, Gilles Aubry, Jen Morris, Le Pot, Purpura and Francisco Meirino.

This project is part of Incidencias Sonoras: COINCIDENCIA experimental music & sound art platform, by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.


A Guide to Swiss Underground Experimental Music

The project to produce this compilation began towards the end of 2016, with an invitation extended by Chico Dub to visit the festival he directs, Novas Frequências. There, we would meet the delegation of the Pro Helvetia Foundation, who had great interest in knowing more about the experimental music scene in South America. We traveled to Rio de Janeiro to visit the Novas Frequencias festival, and to Valparaiso to visit the Tsonami festival. The encounter was rewarding in both directions, as I also was interested in learning about the Swiss scene. While exchanging with Tobias Rothfahl (Pro Helvetia), I realized that the experimental music scene in Switzerland was very active and robust, and the idea to make this compilation started to develop.

I don’t remember exactly what was my first musical contact with Switzerland. Perhaps when I discovered The Young Gods through their records by the end of the 1990s. What I do remember clearly is my first direct exchange with Swiss experimental musicians. It happened during a series of concerts that occurred in Lima 10 years ago. Particularly, I remember the shows put together by Günter Müller, Jason Kahn, Norbert Möslang (Voice Crack), and Dave Phillips (Schimpfluch). They had arrived as part of a South American tour, and performed together with many of Lima’s underground experimental musicians.
After these exchanges, I understood that Swiss artists travelled frequently. Partly because of the very nature of the international experimental music circuit, but Swiss artists also travel vastly because funding is available to promote Swiss culture abroad. Because of Switzerland’s proximity to many other countries, there is a lot of communication and cultural activity, especially with France, Germany, and Italy. At the same time, there is a large number of foreign artists living in Switzerland, well integrated with the local scene. Considering the cultural diversity of the country, represented in its four official languages (French, German, Italian, and Romansh), together with a high rate of immigration, Switzerland is a country of complex cultural convergence.

How to forget Cabaret Voltaire, in Zürich, founded by Hugo Ball from Germany. Cabaret Voltaire was the historic meeting place of the Dadaist movement, and housed exiled artists from different nationalities, and different languages. Such a cosmopolitan atmosphere made possible the emergence of the so-called “verses without words”, a non-language capable of speaking to the most diverse crowd.

One of the most active labels in the experimental music scene in Switzerland is Institute of Incoherent Cinematography, from Zürich, where silent films are screened with live music performed by experimental musicians. During these screenings, one can find often ‘free improvisation’, a genre deeply rooted in Switzerland, and one largely practiced by Swiss experimental musicians.

Two notable experimental music venues in Switzerland are Cave 12 in Geneva, and Misterioso Jazz Club, in Zürich. Equally important are alternative places like Cabane B, in Bern, as well as festivals such as LUFF, in Lausanne. LUFF is a festival of extreme music that presents artists from different parts of the world. Other important festivals such as Ear We Are, in Biel, and Zoom In, in Bern, are dedicated to free improvisation.

To me, record labels perhaps are the best way to understand the different styles and visions of how the experimental music scene has developed. Many experimental music labels stand out: Everest Records, Veto Records, three:four records, Präsens Editionen, Cruel Bones, A Tree in a Field Records, Pulver & Asche Records, Wide Ear Records, and Bongo Joe Records. Bongo Joe is also a specialized record store worth highlighting, together with the stores Oor and Plattfon Records.

“Interactions” is a word that refers to a connection between two or more things that influence each other reciprocally. It is a useful word in discussing and understanding what is different, and a word that reminds us that if something must prevail within the experimental music scene, it is its openness towards what is different. (Luis Alvarado)


released October 21, 2019

Concept, compilation and liner notes by Luis Alvarado
Mastered by Alberto Cendra at Garden Lab Audio
Front cover artwork by Marco Papiro

Acknowledgments: Pablo Assandri, Luis Sanz, Simone Aubert, Bongo Joe, Francisco Meirino, Everest Records, Tobias Rothfahl, Jasper Walgrave, Chico Dub, Nicolás Kisic and Marco Papiro.

This project is part of «Incidencias Sonoras», an experimental music and sound art platform supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in the context of its programme «COINCIDENCIA – Swiss & South American Cultural Exchanges»




Buh Records Lima, Peru

Buh Records is an independent label based in Lima, Peru, focused in experimental music and new sounds. Run by Luis Alvarado.

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