Preview: The Young Gods
A quarter of a century on, and back to the roots
Posted: December 5, 2012
On the scene since the 1980s, The Young Gods have moved away from synthetic and impenetrable electronica to something they describe as more "organic."
Considered years ahead of their time for their pioneering use of samplers and sequencers, the Swiss post-industrial electronoiseniks The Young Gods inhabit a very different world from that of most of their peers. Never content to simply sit back and press the autopilot button, The Young Gods have moved away from synthetic and impenetrable electronica to something their singer, Franz Treichler describes as "organic," tapping into the more human aspect, where real instruments exist in harmony with machines.
"They are here to help us," Treichler says. "There is nothing wrong with machines, unless you become a slave to them."
Taking cues from the visceral power of punk and the grand drama of classical music, Treichler created barbed aggressive guitar sounds and drum loops using a sampler controlled initially by Cesare Pizzi and over the beats of the original percussionist, Frank Bagnoud. The Young Gods' debut single, "Envoyé!," and their eponymous debut album were produced by Roli Mosimann of Swans. The record was highly praised, particularly by the British music press: Melody Maker named it 1987's album of the year. Their follow-up, 1989's L'Eau Rouge, enjoyed even more critical acclaim.
The band has inspired lots of artists. David Bowie took hints from The Young Gods when he recorded his Outside album, and the likes of Sepultura, Nine Inch Nails and even U2's The Edge have all expressed their gratitude.
When: Dec. 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Palác Akropolis
Tickets: 590 Kč standing, 640 Kč seated
Having survived for almost three decades, The Young Gods are old hands at this game. Believing experimentation is the only way forward, they thrive on exploring new methods and techniques within the confines of rock electronica. All of their albums to date appear to offer something completely new.
Take 1991's Play Kurt Weil, on which the Gods cover the famous German composer with stirring renditions of "Mackie Messer," "Alabama Song," "September Song" and more. With 2002's Music for Artificial Clouds, The Young Gods introduced a deep and dark ambient trip very much in a meditative style, leading to a very ambitious collaboration with the anthropologist Jeremy Narby for the Amazonia Ambient Project, performed in Prague in 2007. The 90-minute set took authentic recordings that were made in the Amazon and then reworked on computers.
In 2010, the band released Everybody Knows, which marked another change of direction. By delving deep into the intelligent use of well-textured electronics mixed with acoustic guitars, it is one of The Young Gods' most hybrid offerings yet. Indeed, after 2008's acoustic-tinged Knock On Wood, it was a most unexpected turn.
Other projects have included work with a hardcore chamber orchestra, as well as a piece called Aquanaute at the Science for People festival in Geneva. Compared with the intimacy of the Amazonia Ambient Project, this was more open to live improvisation and heavier on percussion.
As part of a short tour to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album, The Young Gods return to Prague for another two-night offensive at their favorite venue, Palác Akropolis. "Prague and the Czech Republic are very important to us," Treichler says. "We have a large following there, and the people always go crazy."
Treichler says the band will be performing songs from that eponymous debut and their equally dark and menacing follow-up. It all looks set to be a sonic blast from the past.
James Scanlon can be reached at