The LP Company: When Imaginary Records And Fake Reviews Create Real Music

This musical and cultural project in Switzerland aims to redefine the very essence of the creative process.

For the LP Company, "Imagination is Music"
For the LP Company, "Imagination is Music"
Caroline Stevan

LAUSANNE - An iPhone sitting on a desk. An Ethernet cable, a window with a view on a building, and a espresso coffee capsule lying around – a sad and ordinary environment. Yet two men from Switzerland, Laurent Schlittler and Patrick Claudet, managed to build a creative world out of this. Welcome to the world of the LP Company.

“We have been sharing the same office for five years. We listen to a lot of music, and talk about music in our free time,” explain the two men from Lausanne. “About a year ago, Patrick took a picture of the radiator with his phone. We told ourselves that it would make a nice album cover – and so we decided to turn our whole environment into album covers.”

There are pictures all over the desk: they are often close-up and colorful; it can be a detail on a jacket, a picture of the Ethernet cable or the coffee capsule. Sometimes it’s a landscape, or people taken from the pages of the hotel magazine for which the two journalists work. Laurent Schlittler and Patrick Claudet have a box filled with potential band names and another one filled with album titles. They draw the band name and album title randomly, and then assign a photo to them. Then, they take a minute to pick the titles of the vinyl’s ten tracks. Then finally, they write a review of the record they just created.

“From that moment on, the album’s existence is undeniable. We wrote the songs and imagined what the music would sound like,” explains Schlittler.

These hiddens gems of underground music were first published on the Internet, and have now been gathered in a book ("Les trésors cachés de la musique underground"). The songs and reviews “are an homage to the discreet but groundbreaking albums that are redefining the global musical landscape,” says the presentation. Featuring: Klee, “the new indie prodigy from Austria” and their album: Kill Your Darlings. There is also Suzy Packs, one of whose tracks is described as “a bizarre cacophony that echoes the bizarre album cover. A failed tribute to Luigi Russolo.” The Sophists are from Croatia but their pop music is “so British.” The musical references are very real, just like the anecdotes from concerts or from musicians, giving these unknown talents an undeniable feeling of authenticity.

“We are obviously very fond of fiction,” admits Patrick Claudet. “Aside from being journalists, Laurent is a novelist and I write movie screenplays. It’s fascinating to create magic out of such a desolate place. The office, as boring and functional as it is, has a huge potential – the very same potential we could find in a prison cell, a hospital or a cheap hotel room. And now, every piece of furniture reminds me of a band and its specific universe.”

Finding that rare gem

In order to make sure the creative process is perfect, the two 40-year-olds asked international musicians to cover their songs, which will be reviewed for a second time. Marc Devigne, Ray Wilko and Fauve all agreed to participate to the first “real album,” now available on the LP Collection website. Fauve chose to cover Between My Legs, by O’Gonzo, an industrial rock band from Cincinnati. “Doing a cover gives me license to do a lot of things, in the end. I wanted something completely different from what I usually do, something on a whole other level,” claims the singer from Lausanne. And it certainly is a whole other level: “Industrial metal with riffs that are sharp as a circular saw, influences grinded to pieces, a chorus barfed into a megaphone,” according to the review. This is definitely a departure from Fauve’s distinctive soft lyricism.

The musician read the album’s reviews, listened to the groups that were referenced to, and added his own references. The result is “gloomy Black Sabbath chords and sweeping formulations,” that cannot seem to erase Fauve’s gentleness. Lausanne band Talc provided an existing song to be added to Alligator Demented’s album, and then made an alternative version for their own album. “It’s a strange phenomenon; something different came out of our song,” explained Talc band member Vincent Verselle. “We didn’t have time to compose something new but we wanted to be part of the project. It’s fascinating to see how much care is given to the whole process, which was built on something that was not real. The level of dedication impressed us.”

This innovative technique will be presented at the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum in Paris. “The goal is to create new stuff all the time, very quickly, without judgment or research. This method can be applied to anything from cinema to sculpture… as long as it is in a written format as well. The copy validates the original and the format creates the content,” explains Schlittler. It’s another way to mock the critics’ and the fans’ obsession with finding that "rare gem," that 1970s Portuguese vinyl or that promising, still-undiscovered Canadian musician.

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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