It's 2020, and we live in a hyper-networked world. Between social media, email, search engines and messenger services, we're more connected than we've ever been, and increasingly, many of us are "always-on." As a DJ or a music maker, the extent to which "connectivity" permeates our contemporary lives is a blessing and a curse. If you're looking for new influences, new collaborators, or new music to play, if you spend the time typing, reading and listening, chances are you can find what you need. However, being "always-on" doesn't leave a lot of space for solitude, internal reflection or stillness, all of which are powerful forces within the creative process.
With "INTENTA: Experimental & Electronic Music from Switzerland 1981-93", curators Maxi Fischer and Matthias Orsett wind the dial back to the last era before the process of hyper-connectivity began to enter the mainstream. They frame their take of this story within the Swiss cities of Geneva and St Gallen in the eighties and early nineties, an era of massive change within music. Bedroom musicians went from strumming a guitar to covering their desks with samplers and synthesizers, and in some areas, song-craft collapsed into sonic experimentation. Lone figures working in isolation, without any sense of scene or community, perhaps occasionally meeting a like-minded individual while browsing a musical equipment store.
In Switzerland, this era was also marked by culture transitions, with a politicized youth movement giving way to the arrival of acid house, rave, techno, and the hedonistic pursuit of rhythmic euphoria which came intertwined with the music. Over 17 tracks, "INTENTA: Experimental & Electronic Music from Switzerland 1981-93" captures a series of panoramic sonic snapshots from the era, loosely grouped around a series of themes. Pop sensibilities. Early home computer music. Fourth world evocations. Future disco visions, and ambient, as rendered with a glacial splendor and timescale.
On the dancefloor, Air Project's "Rap Yourself", Jean-Pierre Huser's "Chinatown", Olivier Rogg's "GE/CH:Seq", Carol Rich's "Computered Love", and Aborted at Line 6's "Mammuth (Extended Version)" conjure up a series top-rocking electro grooves, dubby chanson and techno-pop. Meanwhile, over in the lounge, Claudine Chirac's "Etudes", Bells of Kyoto's "Swiss Air", D-Sire's "Wintertime", and Dressed Up Animals's "Mondtanz" evoke subtle, but extremely evocative late night atmospheres, the sort that will keep you up chilling with friends well into the early hours.
Wrapped up in layers of jazz, post-punk, proto-house, field recordings, and experimental/environmental background pieces, "INTENTA: Experimental & Electronic Music from Switzerland 1981-93" makes for a beautifully sequenced embarrassment of riches. Secret weapons for the dancefloor? They're here. Moody listening pieces? Again, they're here. Then you've got the stories the music-makers share in the liner notes, an equally wonderful and informative touch.
"INTENTA: Experimental & Electronic Music from Switzerland 1981-93" is due for release in digital, CD and 2xLP formats on Feb 28. You can pre-order it (here)