Young Gods or Four Decades of Electronic Experiments

Members of Young Gods with Bernard Trontin, Franz Trickler and Cesare Pizzi from left to right. © Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

How do you sample a chord progression, turn it into loops, mix it with tempo and tempo, and thus compose an entirely new piece of music? The Young Gods Group discovered this formula nearly forty years ago and it has become a worldwide icon of industrial rock. Today, the Swiss are turning to electronic simplicity.

This content was published on November 13, 2022 – 11:00

“So much noise. So many bodies. War inside. War on the outside,” shrieks Franz Trischler, as drums beat at 300 beats per minute until guitar loops and gunshots came in. On May 24, 1985, when the musicians of The Young Gods turned on their loudspeakers in New Morning, a concert hall located in an abandoned power station on the banks of the Rhone in Geneva, the sound struck like a hammer, exploding in the audience’s ears.

It is a style unheard of in Switzerland that will mark the history of music. I sent Not a poem about the mountains, as in folk songs, but a new cry of rebellion.

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Nearly forty years later, Cesare Pizzi (sampler, computer), Bernard Trontin (drums and synthesizer) and Franz Trischler (vocals, samples and guitar) have become seasoned artists, the latter even being a laureate of the Swiss Grand Prix for music, received at 2014 from the hands of the Minister of Culture himself. And as art goes hand in hand with perpetual innovation, the collection released 12e studio album: Little Gods play Terry Riley in CInspired by the works of an American composer known as a pioneer of minimalist music.

Personal Biography

November 14, 1961: Born in Friborg

1971-1983: Classical guitar studies at the conservatories of Fribourg and Lausanne. The professor’s diploma in entering the gifted category.

1976: 2nd prize at the 11th Milan International Classical Guitar Competition and 1Verse Prize in the Swiss Youth Classical Guitar Competition.

1979: Franz Trickler with Cesar Bizzi and Jack Choi founded the first punk band from Fribourg, “Johnny Forgler and the Raclette Machine”.

1981-1983: Member of the Fri-Son Society.

1985: Move to Geneva and form the Young Gods group with Cesare Pizzi and Frank Bagnoud.

1997-2003: Dance troupe music director Jill Jobin.

2005: The Young Gods celebrate their 20-year career at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

2014: Won the Swiss Music Award

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a “messy” piece

in C It was first performed in 1964 by Terry Riley and fits on a sheet of paper. The piece contains only 53 musical phrases (the set of notes that make up the smallest unit of complete meaning in the composition) and each phrase can be repeated at the discretion of each musician. The composer recommends performing 35 musicians, but he also works with less. Musicians are encouraged to play the phrases at different times. Apart from that, everything is open: its duration, tools used, style and even speed of execution. For this no connector is needed. What is important is the interaction between the musicians on the stage.

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However, this isn’t the first time little gods have ventured into the business of Terry Riley from California. The Swiss group played for the first time in C In 2019 with “Landwehr”, the official state and city band of Friborg. The result was so convincing that the three musicians decided to take it to the studio and record it all at once, within an hour, without interruption. The result is intimate: rhythms begin to step up, loops arrive and overlap, tones are played and resonate with each other, creating an air of dream and contemplation, slowly disappearing in decreasing.

if it was in C The Young Gods movie reminds us of the sound of ’80s pop music, and it’s no coincidence. In addition to guitar, drums and synthesizer, the musicians also used various instruments from SMEM and the Swiss Museum and Electronic Musical Instrument Center in Friborg, including historical pieces such as the “Oberheim OB-8” synthesizer used by the Pet Shop duo Boys, or “Prophet 5”, the first Programmable memory polyphonic instrument, which can be heard in the album excitement by Michael Jackson.

Roots per inch and rock

Brazil had an influence on the young gods. “We always listened to music in the house. There was a piano and my dad had a set of bossa novas,” says Francis Jose Conceição Letao Trickler (Christian name of Franz Trickler), in the group’s rehearsal studio. This cramped space in an old garage cellar in downtown Geneva gets even smaller with countless loudspeakers, drums, instruments, computers, and synthesizer desks. The only accessory is the Brazilian flag that covers the screen.

In the Young Gods rehearsal room in Geneva, the Brazilian flag recalls Franz Trickler’s roots.

His father, Torquato Augusto Treichler (broadcasting name: Sérgio Fernandes), was the Portuguese-speaking managing editor of Swiss Radio International (SRI), the predecessor of “We were surrounded by Brazilian musical law,” he says. But the biggest inspiration came from his brother, who is five years older than him, and who brought home the record-breaking Deep Purple. On his birthday, he got a Dorz album LA womanwho never stopped listening to him. Then his father took him to a friend, a Brazilian and classical guitar teacher at the Conservatory in Friborg, and asked him to teach him this instrument. Franz was eleven years old at the time.

At the end of 1985, the young musician arrived in London to mix the first titles of the group he had just founded, The Young Gods. “At that time, we worked with young Swiss producer Roli Mosimann, with whom we recorded some titles, including I sentFranz Trischler says: Swiss group work attracts attention Melody MakerOne of the most prestigious music magazines in England.

Two years later, when the band released their first album, Young Gods, the newspaper announces that it is album of the year. “It was an incredible thing for a small Swiss group. We were considered an experimental group. There was no one in England who did the same. And so English journalists started coming to Switzerland to give us interviews. They asked us how we made music like this for being Swiss,” he recalls.

For Franz Trickler, the form of the music of the Young Gods – a mixture of instruments with a group of sounds – is explained by his desire to extrapolate the capabilities of the instrument. “I wanted to use a different technique that combined aesthetics. As a classical guitarist, I felt like I was walking around in circles, always falling on the same strings. After that I had the desire to adopt another approach to composition,” the musician told journalist Olivier Horner in his autobiography once. It is purely related to sound rather than tone. Little Gods – Long Road 1985-2020.

audio lab

But why the little gods? Franz Trickler explains that the idea for his band’s name came from the song God’s youth The Swans, an influential group on the American experimental scene who helped organize their first concert in Switzerland in 1984.

When Franz Trickler traveled to the United States in 1991 to record the album that would becomemagnum opus From the set, he seeks inspiration from the source of rock and roll. For this, he worked for several months in the studio, performing experiments on the computer and on guitar with other members of the group located in various places in Europe. The Sound Lab would then become the modus operandi of the Young Gods, as they do today in their studio in Geneva.

They end up going back to Europe: though Sky TV, with English-language texts, constitutes Young Gods’ biggest success, with more than 250,000 albums sold, and the group never entered the US market. We were considered a European group. There is a culture of shock in America and it is very important. You’ll be shocked to sell like Marilyn Manson.”

Back in Switzerland, young gods turn to what they do best: creation. Where Sky TVThe band produced seven more albums. When the pandemic hit in 2020, he also pulled into the studios. And when the stages emptied, Franz Trichler realized the importance of his work. We need culture because it is our way of dealing with life. Music is the language of people. This type of poetry that combines words, sounds and rhythms speaks directly to our souls. It is the essence of being human.”

And what makes the voice of the young gods so unique? The answer must be given by those who listen to Swiss music. La Monte Young, an American musician contemporary to Terry Riley and considered an early minimalist, may have the answer. “Each frequency is perceived at a different point in the cerebral cortex. Thus, when a set of frequencies is repeated, a psychological state arises that can be very strong and profound. You can hear details in the harmonic cascade that are extraordinarily beautiful and unusual. And you begin to realize that there is New places in the sound will eventually become your home.”


1987 – Young Gods

1989 – Red Water

1991 – The Young Gods Play Kurt Weill

1992 – Sky TV

1995 – Heaven Only

1997 – Dismantling Heaven

2000 – Second Nature

2004 – Music for Artificial Clouds

2007 – Super Ready / Fragmented

2008 – Knock On Wood

2010 – Everyone knows

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Translated from the Portuguese by Olivier Bouchard

According to JTI standards

According to JTI standards

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