Face Music – FM Suisse


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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update  02.2023

Face Music (FM Suisse) – the idea was born out of the necessity to build bridges, for a better understanding of other cultures and minorities.

- Foundation of the association “Musik-Zirkus” 1978

The story began with some concerts in the canton of Thurgau in Eastern Switzerland, where “Albi” has chosen to establish his residence. It was there that the idea was realised to welcome artists in this region and revive the local scene; to create inspiration by encounters with artists from other regions and cultures; to establish a platform for young people, enriching their prevailing music taste; to foster inter-action with cultures and, hence, establish a better understanding thereof. Quality, however, has always played a central role, leading away from the cult with stars in huge concert halls, encouraging finding pleasure in listening to music in daily life in the countryside; gathering experience with sessions creating inter-action between artists and the audience. Music is supposed to retain its effect on other people, creating atmosphere; it is also ought to communicate a message. Music, however, may also be simply entertaining, or be fun; it should nevertheless never become “a consumer good for the masses”.

The first concerts were being hosted in smaller towns and villages in the region of Lake Constance, examples thereof being Frauenfeld, Kreuzlingen, Romanshorn, Sommeri, Wängi, and Weinfelden. International and national bands were invited to perform together with regional artists. The rather diverse music spectrum was covered by different types and styles of music. The concerts were hosted in different forms and at various places, such as village centres, halls, or open air in summer. Open airs with blues, jazz, rock, theatre and traditional music were performed on the same stage. A small market place with regional or local handicraft and catering was used to revive town life. Furthermore, also regional competitions with the participation of the audience were offered in order to stimulate artists to perform in a public competition – as this has been the case since the beginning of mankind, on the occasion of regional festivities, including encounters with tradition and customs and invited guests, this also constituting enrichment for the regions. Such competitions have been promoting a supra-regional network and, certainly, also development and creativity.

The programme of the “Musik-Zirkus” included from 1978 to 1981 as follows:

- National artists:
Adversus, Africana All Stars, Allegretto Quintett, Appenzeller Streichmusik Bänziger, Asphalt Blues Company, Belvedere, Bepejama, Beat Brechtbühl's Elephant, Bucks, Cameleon, Circus, Clips, Colletivo Teatrale, Dragon Fly, Exit, Frauenfelder Rock-Oper "Paul", Galgevögel, Gallis Erbe, Georges Tempest, Godot, Grauzonen-Express, Heinz Lieb Quartett, Hoity Toity, Infra Steff's Red Devil Band, Jazzforum Big Band Aarau, Jeff's Rhein Rockers, Trio KKK, Kifaru, Kjol, Lazy Poker Blues Band, Mano, Meridies, Off & Out, OM, Plamp, Markus Portenier Trio, Sic, Shaggy Dog Revival Band, Shivananda, Suspended Four, Tabasco, Theatergruppe Theogovia, TNT, Töbi Tobler, Uhuru Quintett, VAL 5, Yours Truly.

- International artists:
Baba Yaga (D), Crash (PL), Dave Burrell (USA), Déjà Vu (D), Changes (D), Imre Köszegi Group (H), Laboratorium (PL), Lumpenpack (D), Neighbours (A), Pekka Pohjola Group (FIN), Piirpauke (FIN), Rotglut (D), SBB (PL), Slawomir Kulpowicz Trio (PL), Smith-Kowald-Sommer (USA-D), Timeless (A), Vargavinter (S).

The organization was additionally supported by the active help of high school students, volunteers, regional musicians with media presence, and, of course, regional and supra-regional sponsors.

“Albi” has never lost contact with his old environment, and he is still participating in music performance series with "Musig am Määntig" at the University of Zurich, the “Fabrik-Jazz" in the Roten Fabrik in Zurich, and "Musig bi dä Lüüt" in Thalwil, where he now has his residence. Albi was the co-founder of the MKS, "MusikerInnen Kooperative Schweiz" (or "Swiss Musicians 'Cooperative"), which he has supported by way of the experience he has acquired and his network of international contacts.

- Foundation of the label "Face Music Switzerland – FM Suisse" 1987

"Albi" has remained true to his work with music and cultures up to the present day, and he has always taken seriously his attempts to build bridges to a development of bands having no infrastructure of their own and, hence, no interest groups supporting them, to assist them in their development through the experiences he has made. Concerts with artists from other cultures have included variety and diversity in the regional scene, and these have been warmly welcomed by the audiences. The tours and concerts have met a great demand therefore, this including also music recordings. This constitutes one of the reasons for the foundation of the label "Face Music Schweiz" – „FM Suisse“– this label ought to offer the opportunity to realize such projects. The Swiss music label still offers a varied international programme with original music having roots in rather different cultures.

We also started with jazz-rock or Fusion.

A first attempt at linking these styles was made in the mid-1960s by rock musicians from England, headed by "Colosseum", with the musicians Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith, and "Cream", with Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and the guitarist John McLaughlin. On the west coast of America it was Frank Zappa with his "Mothers of Invention" and other American groups such as "Blood Sweat and Tears" and "Chicago". The era of Fusion was directly influenced by the jazz side, first by the "Miles Davis Group", which included Herbie Hancock, the "Mahavishnu Orchestra", Joe Zawinuls' "Weather Report", Chick Coreas' "Return to Forever", or Tony Williams' "Lifetime".
In Europe it is worth recalling the "United Jazz & Rock Ensemble", Klaus Doldinger's "Passport", and the French artist Jean-Luc Ponty, and also the Polish influences should certainly not be forgotten: last but not least, to be mentioned are Zbigniew Seifert, Namyslowski, and the Cracow Collective "Laboratorium".

Nothing has changed so far. The music business still is on the search for the latest trend and up-to-date one-hit-wonders, something to attract the masses and easily market products in an economically pleasing way. For this reason, artists are forced to adapt to the manipulated taste of the masses in order to become popular. We all strive to gain our living, this is, we have to earn money to survive and to live in our present society. Individual ideas and experiences will not be accepted by the market, being pushed further into the background. It is all about so-called “nice products”! Only a few are successful to attract bigger audiences and survive and prevail. The majority will never leave the rehearsal rooms or pass regional borders. Increasing commercial demand and (ab)use limit the habitat of art itself. Marketing is invading the communication of art. Every active artist is in search of opportunities to process forms of expression with the audience. This is intended to contribute to an improvement of the existing quality of living in our society. In this regard, however, we are suppressed and limited by a prevailing opinion, only commercially successful performances will be accepted by the society, will succeed in finding sponsoring. This is a type of feudal system, a platform in grand style. Public subsidies are steadily being cut, which is why organizations have to change their strategies, have to cancel their projects due to a “lacking of funds”. The ever growing privatization of sponsoring has developed into a situation, in which financial support is only being granted if the project is considered an intellectual hobby, or if a project is of interest for the great masses and is warmly welcomed by the public, this is, if it becomes popular. Funds are only open to art, if such an investment will be financially rewarding, if it will raise prestige within the community.

We still hope that we, with our direct access to our repertory of productions offered to an interested and open-minded public, are still in the position to motivate and stimulate people to listen to these artists, to have pleasure in discovering something new, to show respect to the traditions of other cultures. We look for and are in need of a broad basis of music connoisseurs, who are willing to indulge in our carefully selected productions, and are willing to show their support. We also hope to continue to participate, in co-operation with our musicians, in a colourful and communicative music world. Tradition has been preserved in a closed culture, but now it is in search of bridges leading to a new and open-minded audience.

Publications are based on existing field research records, which have been revived or which are performed by the doyens of this type of music. Such documented recordings constitute the basis for projects leading to concerts or workshops, being then offered to a newer generation. This is a form of contribution to the preservation of customs and traditions on the basis of their roots, to offer insight to other peoples and cultures. Actually, such publications should be included in ethnological archives or in music schools, should be promoted and supported. But, also here, funds are being cut, departments in charge are being closed. The music industry itself is interested in the promotion of other aspects.

So far, this label has published music from Georgia, Armenia, the Ukraine, Egypt, Mongolia, Togo (Western Africa), Uganda (Eastern Africa), Brazil (Southern Brazil), Argentina, and Russia.

The collection comprises Slaw and Cossack songs, collected in Siberia, throat singing songs from Turk tribes and Mongols, songs of the Altai tribes, and so on. It furthermore includes a great amount of information on these peoples, their forms of living, and their rituals and rites; this information is attached in the booklet or may be found on our homepage; see, for example, history of the steppe nomads, ritual mask dance of the Buddhists (Tsam), handicrafts of various cultures, tengerism or shamanism (religions of the indigenous peoples), art of the steppe peoples, of the Mongols and in Buddhism, migration of the Bantu tribes, archaeological excavations in the European, Eurasian and Asian areas of the steppe nomads.

Up-to-date information in the web:

- Projects Face Music – http://face-music.ch/mainpages/projectsen.html
- Our friends – http://face-music.ch/mainpages/ourfriends.html
- Ten Years Face Music –1987 bis 1997 – http://face-music.ch/catalog/tenyears_facemusicinfo.html
- Review Face Music – http://face-music.ch/mainpages/review_face.html
- Current tour projects – http://face-music.ch/mainpages/tourprojects.html

Thalwil, end of March 2012 – translated by Hermelinde Steiner


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