The Best Music of 2015: A Banner Year for the Bold:
… here are a dozen albums released in 2015 that I savored repeatedly for their musicality, clarity of statement and courage. …
“X” by Schnellertollermeier marries brutality to avant-garde rock and jazz. A classic power trio from Switzerland, the band plays with punk fury and dazzling technical dexterity to create booming, bone-rattling music that stalks, confronts and astonishes. On occasion, the trio steps back and offers wavy, vaguely threatening interludes, but soon the mighty force returns.” –Jim Fusilli, “The Best Music of 2015,” The Wall Street Journal

The Best Albums of 2017: ALBUM OF THE YEAR!:
"This is just an unbelievable album – minimalism meets complexity, no-wave abrasiveness meets jerky Battles-style grooves. It’s a gun loaded with four super-sharp, super-precise bullets of kinetic energy, with not a note going to waste. If you’ve enjoyed Dawn of MIDI, Glenn Branca, Guapo, Battles or the more technical moments of Shellac (with whom Schnellertollermeier share a kinship of sparsity), this is the record for you. Album of the year." – Cities and Memory

The brutal-jazz power trio Schnellertollermeier doesn't screw around. Their uncompromising attitude is even apparent before you hear a note of their music -- it's right there in that deliberate tongue-twister of a name. Their fresh and uncompromising mix of jazz, punk, rock, sound and free improvised music, combined with great musicianship, interplay and a lot of energy, immediately hits the bullseye!

The three men behind the music, guitarist Manuel Troller, bassist Andi Schnellmann, and drummer David Meier, are all eclectic musicians. Schnellmann earned a degree from the Jazz School of Lucerne; Troller studied with British guitar legend Fred Frith and has collaborated with famed U.S. jazz drummer/composer Gerry Hemingway, among others; Meier's ability to bring his own voice into many different musical contexts has made him one of the most sought-after drummers of his generation and he has toured in most parts of Europe, as well as Russia, China and Japan.


RUNE 442

Clarity. Attitude. Skill. These really aren’t qualities that define our present time. All too often, our ephemeral reality finds itself reflected in a jittery retro-music that sucks its data from the Cloud – that atomised archive accessible to all. Schnellertollermeier’s fourth album, to be released October 2017 by Cuneiform Records, is their reply to all this: Rights, and it offers ample demonstration of their own clarity and ability. Rights comprises four pieces, every one of them inscribed with radicalism. Each is built on just a few ideas and develops out of them until it sounds like a Cubist work of art that seems to gaze out from the most varied of perspectives, but always in the same direction. This is the key to the immense depth and beauty of this album. Apart from the fact that it simply blows you away.

Schnellertollermeier still has its original line-up: Andi Schnellmann (bass), Manuel Troller (guitar) and David Meier (drums). These three musicians attended jazz schools in Switzerland and Scandinavia and have been working together as a band for more than ten years. And although they today live in different towns in Switzerland, their collaboration is even more intense than in their early years. After Holz (2008) and Zorn einen ehmer üttert stem!! (2010) it was above all their third album, X (2015), their first release on Cuneiform, that took the band onto a different level, both in compositional and career terms. Whereas Schnellertollermeier had until then played some 20 concerts per year, today it’s 40. X was named one of the 12 most important records of the year by the Wall Street Journal, and the trio went on tour in the USA, Great Britain, Russia and the rest of Europe.

You could say that Rights is the result of this process of consolidation. Schnellertollermeier has an immense presence – that’s the first thing you notice. Initially, you only hear concise, repetitive patterns, but you can already feel their powerful energy while performing, their will to play out and not to yield to any ceremonial, reductionist modes. The pressure is high, their concentration levels too, and their energy levels aren’t a sudden spasm but a prerequisite. This music is complex, but never so much so that the band couldn’t play it with something in reserve. That keeps their music open and free – for themselves, and also for those who hear it. Schnellertollermeier is never brash. They regulate the intensity of their sound with the highly controlled nuances of a precision engineer handling thumbscrews. They never discharge an impertinent punch – instead it’s outstretched, held out, and offered up.

This new album was made in 2016 during the band’s residency at the cultural centre “Südpol” in Lucerne. Schnellertollermeier composed and rehearsed in the different rooms of the house, and presented their interim results in a series of concerts. They sketched out their material, adapted it, took it apart, and blew it up. This was an intentional dissolution of all boundaries for purposes of concentration. The stress test of playing these pieces live helped to make them better: not because Schnellmann, Troller and Meier paid particular attention to what people said after their performances, but because they themselves noticed on stage where the new tracks felt good and where they didn’t. Thus the four pieces on Rights developed over five months and eight concerts before they were all recorded on the spot. Two or three finished tracks were dropped; what remained was “Rights”, the title piece, “Piccadilly Sources”, “Praise/Eleven” and “Round” – four pieces ranging in length between 6 minutes 58 seconds, and 13 minutes 20 seconds.

If we compare Rights with the earlier albums by Schnellertollermeier, it is immediately apparent how little it sounds like improvised music or “jazz”. In others of their many bands, Schnellmann, Troller and Meier still regularly play that kind of music with abandon. But here, we detect their expertise in jazz and improvisation primarily in how they take a rock riff in “Piccadilly Sources” and twist and turn it around, or how, in “Praise/Eleven”, these three musicians turn high, diaphanous sounds into filigree sculptures like freely hovering mobiles. Then there are times when the band sounds like a classic power-rock trio – but one that’s not merely a platform to showcase three soloists. No, Schnellertollermeier is a morphing organism. There are no solos here, no show-offs, for their sound remains that of a straight-up-and-down band. They move through minimal patterns and ambient zones, they build up into brutal rock and arrive more than once on the dance floor with a kind of nimble, danceable headbanger music.

It is astonishing how natural it all sounds. How little Schnellertollermeier’s music sounds like crossover music or some other mind game. This is not least because the band constructs each of its pieces from the bottom up, using one or two clearly defined motives that remain throughout and leave their mark on the piece. Every note has a function, every element is the prerequisite for the next. These pieces are long, but they aren’t suites. Instead, the band members asked themselves: what form will emerge if we take a single idea, think it through consistently, and play it? The electric sound of the guitar has already been composed “into” these electronic textures right from the start. Brutal backbeats rise up out of the serial structure and are expanded and radicalised by the band. Riffs push the tracks over the edge, but then open up for drones and overtone concerts; then they draw themselves in again and push the piece onto the next level. Whoever thought that rock was as dead as a dinosaur will here experience the birth of a highly alert, viable new species.

This works because Schnellmann, Troller and Meier are not jazz musicians simply kowtowing before rock music and refining it. They belong to a generation that grew up with grunge, hip-hop and electronic club music, and they learnt it all by osmosis. Whoever personally knows these three musicians has probably gotten to know them at someone else’s concert – in the bar during a performance of a singer-songwriter or at an improvisers’ retreat, at a big indie event or at a club night – or at a dance performance where you chat afterwards about the impact of rhythms and repetition. If Schnellertollermeier is able to hold its own at jazz festivals from Willisau to Moers and Cheltenham as well as in rock and metal clubs or at a festival of contemporary music, then it’s because they know what they’re playing. They know it, and they believe in it. You can call this clarity; or you can call it skill. Or attitude.

Rights press release (English)
Rights press release (German)

Buy this album


RUNE 402

In 2006, guitarist Manuel Troller, bassist Andi Schnellmann, and drummer David Meier, all around the age of 20, started Schnellertollermeier. Very quickly after their first concerts and their their 2008 debut album, Holz, they become something of a 'underground buzz' in Switzerland, leading to many further appearances. While Holz mostly featured traditional structures of composing revealing their eclectic influences (ranging from Tim Berne to John Abercrombie to Mr. Bungle etc.), Schnellertollermeier soon started working on new material, seeking a more personal sound, both compositionally and improvisationally. The result of this work, combined with the many concerts the group was playing, was their second album Zorn Einen Ehmer Üttert Stem, which was enthusiastically received critically and led to appearances in the most important clubs as well as festivals in Switzerland and Austria.

The group now had a more clear and more original roadmap they were traveling: the group's 'traditional jazz' elements were being subsumed by the brute energy from rock and experimental music, as well as improvisational soundscapes, minimal music and, finally, jazz in the modern, broad, experimental sense. Additionally the idea of a band sounding like one compact organism, with every element having its own importance and clear function, found its result on X. On X, the traditional function of the instruments - the classic power trio of bass, guitar and drums - have clearly been expanded, the bands energy as well as their compositional and performance qualities are even more intense and original than before. The songs, whether long or short, crushing or ambient, have absolutely no padding on them.

X press release

Buy this album

For press and media: cover art and high resolution images are available below for download (click thumbnail, right-click image and select "Save As.."). Please credit the photographer (when available) and "Courtesy of Cuneiform Records". For more information, click here.



Rights press release (English)
Rights press release (German)
X press release
X press quotes

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