Vienna’s Fifth Gift to the world: New Electronic Music

Some day back in 1991 music programmer Klaus Filip introduced his new music production tool Iloop to his friend Christoph Kurzmann, who installed it on his laptop to use it as a completely new voice in improvisational music. While the rest of the world fell prey to grunge-rock in Vienna the birth of a new musical genre happened: electronic music, or to be more precise: a special kind of electroacustic improvisation. And because Kurzmann was the first to do this, I declare this Viennas gift to the world #5.


And for some years the Viennese electronic music scene became the spearhead of progressive music making (again). Christoph Kurzmann founded Charhizma records, his friend and London ex-pat Peter Rehberg aka Pita co-founded Mego together with Ramon Bauer aka Sluta Leta and they were the first to release music by Fennesz. In 1995 the hugely infulential PhonoTaktik festival drew people and artists from all around the world. The music still is everything a regular music listener doesn’t want: usually slow paced, amorphous and refusing to fall into regular rhythms, minimal to monotony, perusing noise to form atmosphere and harmonies. Moreover usually completely instrumental and with a mania for detail only otherwise found in japanese artist’s work. And it is still the most exciting kind of music for people fanatic about music, aka readers of The Wire.
Then Kruder & Dorfmeister went on to global fame and in their wake Vienna was drowned underneath tons and tons of laid back grooves that became known as the Vienna coffee house sound. But the remains of these more forming years from 1991 to 1995 can still be heard in what has become known as clicks’n’cuts, minimal techno and too many other genre names that are too hard to follow but exciting to discover. If you want to check out history in your local record store, search for names like: Pita, Kurzmann, Fennesz, General Magic, Farmers Manual, Bruckmayr, Thilges3, Sluta Leta, Patrik Pulsinger, Lichtenberg, amo.

3 Comments so far

  1. till (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 9:58 am
  2. georg cracked (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 11:28 am

    Till, you’d better beg to differentiate, ’cause we are talking about completely different music here. As it says “… refusing to fall into regular rhythms …” here and “unz unz unz” there.

  3. richardrj (unregistered) on December 1st, 2006 @ 11:35 am

    Well I read The Wire and I’m fanatical about music too, but I think it’s a bit of a sweeping statement to say the Vienna sound is the most exciting kind of music of all. Personally I tend to prefer listening to music played on real instruments rather than laptops – I admire instrumental virtuosity and would rather watch someone playing a guitar or saxophone than a Powerbook any time!

    I do agree however that the Vienna sound was highly influential and really put this city on the world map of electronic music. I interviewed Rehberg a few years ago for a magazine and found him a very driven and interesting personality. Of course the history lives on not only in the genres you mention but in the current work of Pita, Fennesz usw – they are still around and still making music, you know! Also you might have mentioned the Rhiz bar on the Gurtel which was the epicentre of this whole scene and where you can still check it out if you are so inclined.

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