PETER LIECHTI (1951-2014)
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The Visual Music of Swiss Director Peter Liechti

Posted by Peter Margasak on Tue, Nov 3, 2009 at 2:51 PM
www.chicagoreader.com/TheBlog


The Umbrella Music Festival officially starts Thursday night with the six-act “European Jazz Meets Chicago” mini fest at the Chicago Cultural Center. But several visiting artists are getting an early jump by playing shows on Wednesday night. The Hideout presents two ad hoc groupings of top-notch European players, among them guitarist David Stackenas, drummer Martin Brandlmayr, and reedist Liudas Mockunas, and Swiss reedist Hans Koch plays a solo set presented by the Renaissance Society at the U. of C.'s Bond Chapel. (Koch also plays a free solo set Friday at 4 PM at Corbett vs. Dempsey that isn't officially part of the festival.)

Koch is still best known for his longtime participation in an excellent trio with cellist Martin Schütz and percussionist Fredy Studer. But on the recent Synopsis (Altrisuoni), he makes great music with two players I’m unfamiliar with—trombonist Denis Beuret and guitarist Vinz Vonlanthen. Koch concentrates on his rich bass clarinet vocabulary, full of his usual striated whinnies and wails and percussive pops and thwacks, and through the 24 pieces were recorded over a two-month period in nine different locations, the trio is exceptionally coherent, shadowing and complementing one another’s improvised utterances as if they were all planned out in advance.

I recently kicked off a personal DVD-watching marathon with a vibrant documentary of a month-long engagement that Koch, Schütz, and Studer engineered and presented at a warehouse that they’d transformed into a makeshift nightclub. Hardcore Chambermusic—A Club for 30 Days, released on DVD by Intakt Records in 2007, is the work of Swiss director Peter Liechti, who synthesizes a ton of material into a concise 70 minutes, building the density, tension, and drama of the music as the film proceeds. Performance footage is interspersed with abstracted images of the warehouse space and postconcert discussions with the musicians on the nature of improvisation, both as a general practice and as it’s evolved for this particular trio during their time together. Though the talk could’ve ended up boring and dry, by seamlessly illustratingmany of the points with actual performances Liechti maintains the film’s organic flow.

Still, compared to some of Liechti’s earlier work, Hardcore Chambermusic is rather conventional. Earlier this year Drag City Records released two of the director’s most compelling and entertaining documentaries on DVD. Kick That Habit was made back in 1989, a kind of experimental portrait of the great Swiss improvising duo Voice Crack that combines grainy black-and-white footage of the group performing in a warehouse space with elliptical landscape shots of remote, wintry Switzerland, in the mountains and on the water. The subtitle of the film is “A Sound Movie,” and indeed, the soundtrack is integral, and sometimes it seems like the images are actually secondary. In one particularly great scene the musicians sit around a table eating and preparing some of the homemade electronic noise-making devices they were famous for, and the sounds of eggs cracking or bread being buttered are just as loud, prevalent, and musical as the output of the low-tech machines. The sound design here is pure genius; Walter Murch would love this one.

Signer’s Suitcase: On the Road With Roman Signer is from 1995, and in it Liechti follows around the titular Swiss visual artist—he’s responsible for the photograph on the cover of Gastr del Sol’s Upgrade & Afterlife—as he creates various site-specific “temporary sculptures,” which are really more like quasi-scientific experiments that often involve small explosives. It’s not as formally inventive as the Voice Crack film, but thanks partly to the deadpan humor of its subject and the director’s abrupt editing, it’s a blast to watch. Many of Signer’s “pieces” are patently absurd; in one he dons a pair of hip waders and stands about 20 feet beneath an elevated oil drum filled with water. The container is punctured, the water falls in a steady stream, and Signer positions himself so that it fills the waders to the bursting point—at which point he tumbles over. In one piece he shoots long red ribbons over the enormous mouth of the Stromboli volcano, a gesture that sounds grandiose but turns out pathetic in scale, while in another hilarious scene he flies a toy helicopter into the window shutters of an abandoned Swiss hotel. At the completion of each piece Signer turns and walks away, as if it never happened. Sound is important here too, particularly when there’s a crash or an explosion; in its aftermath the sound seems to evaporate instantly, almost mocking the action that preceded it.

 

Index Texts


 Books, Editions 
»Peter Liechti – DEDICATIONS« (Scheidegger&Spiess Zürich, 2016)
Peter Liechti: »Klartext. Fragen an meine Eltern« (Vexer Verlag St.Gallen, 2013) *)
Peter Liechti: »Lauftext - ab 1985« (Vexer Verlag St.Gallen, 2010) *)
Peter Liechti: Waldschrat. Sechsteilige Fotoserie (Vexer Verlag St.Gallen, 2011)

 By Peter Liechti 
Carte Blanche Peter Liechti (Jahresbericht ARF/FDS 2011; deutsch)
Carte Blanche Peter Liechti (Rapport annuel ARF/FDS 2011; français)
«Viel zu wenige Künstler stürzen ab» (Peter Liechti im Gespräch mit Marcel Elsener)
»Kinodokumentarfilm – Fernsehdokumentarfilm« – Text zur Rencontre ARF/FDS 2006 von Peter Liechti
«Le documentaire de cinéma – le documentarie de télévision» – Texte pour la Rencontre ARF/FDS 2006 de Peter Liechti
Es boomt um den Schweizer Film, von Peter Liechti, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30.Juni 2000
Dunkle Stirnen, helle Geister, von Peter Liechti, Tages Anzeiger, September 1997

 About Peter Liechti 
Von Menschen und Hasen (Alexander Weil in www.literaturkritik.de)
Im weitesten Winkel (Bert Rebhandl in FRIEZE)
The Wanderer (Bert Rebhandl in FRIEZE)
Die Kunst des Abschieds (Christoph Egger, Ansprache Gedenkfeier St.Gallen
Konfrontationen mit dem innern Dämon (Christoph Egger, Nachruf in der NZZ)
Der Einzel-, Doppel- und Dreifachgänger (Christoph Egger, Filmbulletin 1/2014)
Im Luftschiff mit Peter Liechti (Tania Stöcklin, Katalog Solothurner Filmtage 2014)
En dirigeable avec Peter Liechti (Tania Stöcklin, Catalogue Journées de Soleure 2014)
Open-Ended Experiments (Matthias Heeder, Katalog DOK Leipzig 2013)
Offene Versuchsanordnung (Matthias Heeder, Katalog DOK Leipzig 2013)
Peter Liechti, Sismographe (Bernard Tappolet, Le Courrier, 3 septembre 2011)
Laudatio auf Peter Liechti (Fredi M. Murer, Kunstpreis der Stadt Zürich)
Landschaften, befragt, mit Einzel-Gänger (Christoph Egger, Laudatio Kulturpreis St.Gallen)
Kino zum Blättern? Jein! (Florian Keller)
Das grosse alte Nichts heraushören – und es geniessen (Adrian Riklin)
«Sans la musique, la vieserait une erreur» – Collages et ruptures pour Peter Liechti (Nicole Brenez)
Tönende Rillen (Josef Lederle)
The Visual Music of Swiss Director Peter Liechti (Peter Margasak)
A Cinematic Poetics of Resistance (Piero Pala)
Aus dem Moment heraus abheben – Peter Liechtis Filme (Bettina Spoerri, NZZ, 19.8.2008)
Sights and Sounds – Peter Liechti's Filmic Journeys, by Constantin Wulff
Letter from Jsaac Mathes
Passage durch die Kinoreisen des Peter Liechti (Constantin Wulff)
Gespräch mit Peter Liechti (Constantin Wulff)
Tracking Peter Liechti's cinematic journeys (Constantin Wulff)
Interview with Peter Liechti (Constantin Wulff)
Interview zu »Namibia Crossings«, in: Basler Zeitung, 23.9.2004
Dokumentarische Haltung. Zu »Hans im Glück«, in: NZZ, 2004
Jäger, Forscher oder Bauer, Interview von Irene Genhart mit Peter Liechti, Stehplatz, April 1996
Excursions dans le paysage, de Michel Favre, Drôle de vie, numéro 8, Dezember 1990
Duckmäuse im Ödland, von Marianne Fehr, WoZ Nr.21, 23.Mai 1990

  Diverses 
Gedenkanlass im Filmpodium Zürich -- in Vorbereitung

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______________________
*)
 Inhalt Peter Liechti: «Lauftext – ab 1985» 

Sprechtext zum Film AUSFLUG INS GEBIRG, 1985
Zwei Versuche aus dem Jahr 1987
«Unrast», Arbeitstexte zu MARTHAS GARTEN, 1988 ‑ 1989
Reisenotizen aus den USA, 1990
Logbuch 1995 ‑ 1997
Logbuch 1998 ‑ 1999
Reisenotizen aus dem Südsudan, 1999
Recherchen Namibia, Rohtexte zu NAMIBIA CROSSINGS, 1999
Erstes ungekürztes Marschtagebuch zu HANS IM GLÜCK, 1999
Logbuch 2000 ‑ 2001
Zweites ungekürztes Marschtagebuch zu HANS IM GLÜCK, 2000
Drittes ungekürztes Marschtagebuch zu HANS IM GLÜCK, 2001
Logbuch 2002
Logbuch 2003
Logbuch 2004
Logbuch 2005
Logbuch 2006
Logbuch 2007
Logbuch 2008
Logbuch 2009
Logbuch 2010 (bis Mai)


Details zum Buch

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