(photo de Fanny Dalle-Rive)

Since 2006 and with numerous artists from different styles (musicians, dancers, illustrators, film directors…) we have consistently multiplied events and experiments with improvisation. Les jeudis du Spoutnik, les laboratoires d'improvisation, and also Connaissances du monde expérimental are the many concerts series which have allowed us, with numerous artistic obstructions, to explore sound, space, relationship to the audience, aesthetic, history, art and life.

These performances are the answer to an inextinguishable thirst for experimentation. They can be, beside this, a field of study for more important projects, or an effective, quick and radical solution to given propositions, or also the way for a few artists to meet "on the field". But the main engine is still the wish to create an artistic object here and now, fast and good.

On an invariably musical basis, we have built ties with dance, fine arts and the cinema. World famous stars such as Foofwa d'Imobilité (dance) or Windsor McCay (movie director) and some very young recruits like the members of hécatombe (illustrators) or outstanding students of the Conservatory of Geneva moved through the square of the Improvisation laboratories in all sorts of venues: concert halls, theatres, museums, cinemas, streets… These forms fear no place or audience, as a number of these performances have been given for a "young audience".

You shall find below a pot-pourri of the following musical and performative experiments: Playing and drawing in improvisation, Scores by illustrators, Haunted House, Hijacking of short animation cartoons and video clips


Playing and drawing in improvisation

Playing and drawing in improvisation is a concept born in 2007 on the impulse of illustrator Baladi, with whom I signed my first album, which was actually accompanied by a comic book. Baladi, with a disconcerting virtuosity and easiness, had been for more that ten performances giving the impression to be creating an animated cartoon under the eyes of the audience. After a few years of practice, Baladi gave his brushes to numerous other illustrators, among whom Peggy Adam, Tom Tirabosco, and, more recently, the team of Hécatombe, who gave a serious facelift to the performance by imagining all sorts of new artistic obstructions, each of them funnier and more stimulating than the other.


An extract of Playing and drawing in improvisation, young audience version, at the "festival de la Bâtie" 2008, with Baladi (brushes), Benoît Moreau (clarinet) and Brice Catherin (electronic).


Another drawing realised
during an improvisation
by Baladi.

Another drawing realised
during an improvisation
by Baladi.

Another drawing realised
during an improvisation
by Baladi.

Portraits of Baladi and Brice Catherin
by Tom Tirabosco.

Port-folio "Car de Thon in Sierre"
by Baladi.

Port-folio of rehearsals
by Suzanne Perrin.

A nice article
by Benjamin Chaix.

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Scores by illustrators

Scores by illustrators not knowing music theory was born in 2008, also on the impulse of illustrator Baladi. Once, the aforementioned brought me a music score drain by him, and inspired, in a way, by Cathy Berberian's stripsody, with the noticeable difference that Baladi did not know music theory nor could play music. The score was nonetheless perfectly playable and, encouraged by this experience, I followed the idea further and I am now in possession of several scores from several illustrators who do not know music theory.

Cui Cui by Yassine, that can be seen here.
Les massacres sont toujours faits avec passion by Olivier Texier, that can be seen here.
Range ta rue by Baladi, that can be seen here.
Sous ma douche by Franz Gallo, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Abstien, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Géraud, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Andréas Kündig, that can be seen here.
René by Franz Gallo, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Fatmat, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Mattt Konture, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Jean-Christophe Menu, that can be seen here.
Il plut, il n'est plus by Vincent Pianina, that can be seen here.
Proche de l'Ohio by Julie (du Bal des Chiens), that can be seen here.
N'importe quoi qu'il en soit by Baladi, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Coco, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Mokeït, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Néoine Pifer, Buster Yannez and Lyne, that can be seen here.
Sweet Videur Symphony by Coco, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Jacques Velay, that can be seen here.
Sismics by Camille Besse, that can be seen here.
Aux Puces 12 by Jean-Yves Duhoo, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Quentin Faucompré, that can be seen here.
This is a song for the fans of Cousteau by Coco, that can be seen here.
Vase-line by Coco, that can be seen here.
Sans Titre by Abstien, that can be seen here.

The recordings above have been realised in public at the festival SISMICS (Sierre) between the 3rd and the 6th of June 2010 by: Yannick Barman, trompet; Brice Catherin, cello; Didier Métrailler, percussions; Francesko Miccolis, batterie; Alexandra Bellon, percussions and with the participation of the audience and some illustrators.

And here is the history of the scores by illustrators told by Coco.


An extract of Jean-Christophe
Menu's thesis.

Brice Catherin conducting
"N'importe quoi qu'il en soit" by Baladi
by Fanny Dalle-Rive.

Brice Catherin conducting
"N'importe quoi qu'il en soit" by Baladi
by Jean-Yves Duhoo.

A poster
by Abstien Gachet.


Haunted House

Haunted House is a specific version of Playing and drawing in improvisation with a set and a dramaturgy. Tom Tirabosco and Sandrine Pelletier have imagined replacing the windows and the doors of the theatre with big, thick papers on which they painted from outside the building. The audience could therefore only see the tip of their brushes in action. The spectral aspect of this performance was reinforced by two or three musicians inside the theatre, sitting in a circle and playing what they pretend to be shamanic music, in order to call the ghosts of the pretended deceased illustrators . This humorous and light situation became in the end the pretext to a really strange and fascinating performance, in which the drawings were appearing mysteriously, as if they had been obeying the musicians' magical imprecations.


Trailer of the premiere at the Villa Bernasconi, Grand-Lancy, in November 2011.

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Hijacking of short animation cartoons and video clips

Numerous concerts have given us the occasion to hijack (with the consent or the director or the assign) animation cartoons. By treating the movies like a graphic score, the musicians allow themselves a wonderful playing field. Furthermore, and depending on their stylistic choices, they can give a brand new colour to the movie far from the "official" one.

This game is pushed even further when it comes to hijacking video clips that were themselves realised on a given music. A kind of music-movie-music grapevine is therefore becoming settled, and one might be surprised by the similarities, or, on the contrary, the abysmal distance between the original and the new version, a phenomenon made even more interesting by the fact that I am careful to not give the original versions to the musicians before the concerts.

One can also notice that the choice of movies and video clips is made using as the only criterion their excellent artistic qualities, without any distinction between periods, styles or subjects. Thus, we put side by side Windsor McCay ("Little Nemo"), Ken Navarro ("Happy Tree Friends"), Bruno Bozzetto, or the belgian painter Thierry Van Hasselt, to quote only a few. The selection can be used for a young audience, a large audience or an audience of aesthete (if they ask politely).


Les grenouilles, clip by Delphine Renard, with Yannick Barman, Christophe Schweizer and Brice Catherin, electronic.


Anna, by Rebekka Baumann, with Yannick Barman (trompet), Christophe Schweizer (trombone) and Brice Catherin (cello).


Moving painting by Thierry Van Hasselt, with Brice Catherin and Christophe Schweizer, festival électron 2011, Geneva.


Spokes for the wheel of Torment, clip by Syd Garon, with Brice Catherin (cello), Edmée Fleury (voice) and Jean Rochat (percussions).


Hell Dream clip by Jim Dirschberger, with Brice Catherin (cello), Edmée Fleury (voice) and Jean Rochat (percussions).


Dans le living-room de ma tante, clip by Amélie Gagnot, with Brice Catherin (cello), Edmée Fleury (voice) and Jean Rochat (percussions).


I can be a frog clip by George Salisbury, with Brice Catherin (cello), Edmée Fleury (voice) and Jean Rochat (percussions).


The forest city rockers motorclub clip de Jim Dirschberger, with Brice Catherin (cello) and Jean Rochat (percussions).


Happy Tree Friends, by Ken Navarro, with Barbara Baker (voice), Brice Catherin, Christophe Schweizer and Luc Müller (instruments).


Life in a tin, by Bruno Bozzetto, with Barbara Baker (voice), Brice Catherin, Ariel Garcia and Luc Müller (instruments)


The flying house, by Winsdor McCay, with Barbara Baker (voice), Brice Catherin, Christophe Schweizer and Luc Müller (instruments).


KJFG#5, by Alexei Alexeev, with Barbara Baker (voice), Brice Catherin, Ariel Garcia and Luc Müller (instruments).


Moving paintings by Thierry Van Hasselt, with Anne Gillot (bass clarinet), Brice Catherin (cello) and Luc Muller (percussions), at the EJMA, Lausanne, on the 29th of March 2014.


A poster
by Yannis Macchia.

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