“What is that word in English?” the guitarist Manuel Troller turns to me, then remembers, “Urgency.” He's not talking of the tempo of Schnellertollermeier's electrifying sound, it does reach Formula One speeds, but what the world needs to get out of the mire we are in. Their new album is called, Rights and that says much.
This music makes energy
This guitar, bass, drum trio entangles notes, pulses and rhythms ceaselessly; erupting after long, tense foreplays that literally excite the body's cells. I'm dancing, oscillating, and I see one older guy going for it, his muscles working hard; this music makes energy. It is tangible and rebellious, decimating walls that separate us. They are one of sixteen acts at the progressive end of jazz/electronica/art music that made the debut Match&Fuse Zürich Festival a thrill-ride.
I'm part of Match&Fuse UK, started by musician Dave Morecroft in 2011 as a tour for bands from two different countries helping each other get gigs, later becoming a festival using the punk 'do-it-yourself' ethos. With partners in other countries, such as Matthieu Cardon, we've run events in cities like Toulouse, Oslo and Rome. Each festival is two or three days in several venues and reflects the personality and contacts of the local promotor. Match&Fuse is not a political organisation, and yet since shocks such as the UK's Brexit vote, it is. Building a network of like-minded artists, it is forward-thinking, open and collaborative.
Colin Vallon stays restless
Beginning at Mehrspur Musikklub with a panel talk about issues facing musicians, the festival had clubs Moods, Labor Bar and Exil host Zürich talent like Kali (I'm excited to hear this trio's album out next spring) and Tobias Preisig. His solo set swooped over turbulent sonic seas, but it's subtleties like Immortal when his violin style entwines invisibly with electronics, that seduce me. Vocalist Lucia Cadotsch's Speak Low with the superb Swedish duo Otis Sandsjö (sax) and Petter Eldh (bass), spun a fragile web around jazz standards, re-versioning them as remote and ultra-modern.
They were joined by Colin Vallon, Marc Lohr and Julian Sartorius for Renditions– remixes of Lucia's original album. Songs such as Don't Explain were lured into Vallon's rapid, soft digi-pulses then gently twisted by Lucia. It's jazz for new ears, it lives and breathes in our today. Speaking of Vallon, how good is his trio? Match&Fuse was gifted with him on Fender Rhodes and he knew exactly how to drop shards of gorgeous groove on this, most warm and cool of instruments. But he stays restless with turns and textures, echoed by Sartorius' poetic percussive play - and Sandsjö who joined in as an 'experiment' to lift the vibe. Otis was also in the Swedish sextet, Farvel, who caringly held the wordless lyrics of Isabel Sörling – a vocalist who has the most elegant scream. Farvel tuned into each other, holding back, to keep a sense of air and light beneath their wings.
Neon bright dance beats
On the electronic front I was enamored by IOKOI, with video artist Aria. Mara Micciche knows how to drop some fat, low-end theory within ultra-slow beats. Her high, tender vocals curl like smoke plumes above the numb electronics to illustrate the dichotomy of humans in our high-tech world. Synth/drum duos, In Girum (France) and UK's Soccer96 played – they know how to rave with a soulful arrow sticking from their heart. Whilst Tim & Puma Mimi (CH/Japan) were the party band to finish the festival – neon bright dance beats and expressive vocals, they were a blast!
M&F is an urban party, with audiences nipping between venues to check taster sets of mixed-up genres. It doesn't always allow bands to breathe into their set, it's more wham/bam, with the festival as a whole being the fizz. It was the first gig abroad for Øyunn (Norway), who cast a tentative veil of dream-pop, whilst Bern-based Me & Mobi burnt it up; a keyboard trio who were warped and utterly engaging, I pictured them playing Taffey's Snake Pit Bar in Blade Runner. The True Harry Nulz (super-musicianship) and the Match&Fuse Ensemble were both the 'fuse' in action, rooted in live improvisation. The latter being a courageous band of pan-European musicians who only recently met for M&F Dublin.
Towards a connected world
I'll finish with Julien Desprez. He was a shock. Amongst three hand-built bars of LEDs and a swarm of effects pedals and wires, Julien stood alone with his sensitised guitar cranking out all forms of electrified and percussive noise. Buzz, fuzz, thud, howl; his feet typing away furiously on pedals to punch out fast-fire. The light bars flashed severely, then it was pitch black, at the next light blaze Julien was in a different position. He repeated this as if in a staccato horror film, with his facial expression reminding me, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
It was Antonin Artaud theatre: hypnotic, engulfing and sometimes funny. At the end, Julien stood at the front edge of the stage tapping his guitar in a sort of heartbeat. He looked at us directly and openly, as if saying simply, “Here I am.” It was magic, and I felt truly moved. This festival is about that – allowing musicians to be whoever they really are, even if their ideas need time to evolve. Their risk-taking energises us, it brings us together with them, and for a moment creates a world in which we are deeply connected.