BEGINNINGS 1972 - 1976
Singing in the school choir and playing the piano in a classical mode were the first musical experiences of the young Ralph Beauvert. Come adolescence, things began to change not just musically when the missionaries of hippiedom , i.e. the touring rock musicians came to town week after week spreading the gospel of peace, free love, drugs and exuberant hedonism. The early '70s were probably the most inspiring era for up-and-coming musicians as we were encouraged to experiment and bring in new elements to the otherwise simple rock format, literary aspects and theatre, alien ethnic influences became part of the sound of many acts in rock, jazz and folk music. Electronics and the first synthesizers appeared and were implemented into strange sounding 20-minute songs, played and controlled by weird looking people. No one spoke of progressive rock, ethno-jazz or new age music - it was all 'Underground' at the time: High Art with long hair. 1970 -1975 was the most fantastic time to be a musician. Ralph saw all the great rock groups of the early '70s and loved to hang out with the bands at festivals in Britain and on the continent. So from the age of 16, Ralph improvised with oscillators and played on the great organ at the local church with some friends in the style of POPOL VUH and KLAUS SCHULZE and singing spiritual songs dedicated to Vishnu after seeing QUNTESSENCE, who had come to perform in his hometown. Seeing this band live left an unforgettable impression. Still, he never imagined at the time that he would be part of a band with Quintessence's singer Shiva 30 years later!
Ralph hanging out with Nik Turner of Hawkwind, Frick 1975
FIRST BANDS 1976 - 1980
After playing with some local bands in his home town, Ralph got his first real (built by a friend) synthesizer, an Elektor Formant, and began experimenting with a Revox and a Roland Space Echo. Living in a commune, we built this fantastic sound-proof underground rehearsal room which is still today the Mooncow H.Q. studio, musicians came and went and there was some jamming going on most of the time! Besides playing the Fender Rhodes Piano, a Formant Modular Synth and a Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm drum machine, Ralph learnt to play the drums as well and his very first open air gig was actually as a drummer. Recording: SCIENCE OF A PARTICULAR SMELL (1977-80), audio cassette.
The FORMANT modular synth
TAKING OFF 1980 - 1987
In early 1980 I started to work with another very active local musician, Walter Zweifel, on a three-part performance opera for the city of Winterthur's 800-year birthday sponsored by the city council. We formed a six-piece band with two drummers and featuring a great local guitar hero, we named the band ACH SO! and played some spaced out jazz-rock with great electronics and ambient sounds. The whole show was rehearsed at Mooncow H.Q. I contributed two of my songs and all of the English libretto for the entire opera. The three parts consisted of the themes of HISTORY, WINTER and WATER (as the German name of the town suggests), and the luscious show featured spoken text, fire-eaters and a bodybuilder! I was the lead vocalist and the second synth player in the band. We were cutting edge electronically, with a quadrophonic P.A with surround sound (in 1980) and Walter Zweifel playing the state-of-the-art PPG Wave 360. I played the EMS Synthi A, Formant Modular Synth and a Roland synth with a sequencer. The slightly controversial and flamboyant performance opera was only staged once in its entirety, on December 19, 1980 at the Winterthur Casino - a complete sensual spectacle and my entry ticket to the tripping of the light fantastic!
The slightly controversial Performance Opera, Landbote December 1980
When ACH SO! was disbanded quite unceremoniously shortly afterwards, I was approached by some talented local guys to form a rock band with electronic sound elements in the vein of the current new wave bands. I had rereatedly spent time in London and knew exactly what was going on - so we formed something between MAGAZINE and INNER CITY UNIT, with songs of a rather sombre character with the odd hippie reference thrown in! The band was called TIDAL WAVE and again featured two keyboard players, although my main job was as lead vocalist, lyricist and songwriter. I played a Formant Modular Synth, EMS A Synthi and a ARP Solina String Ensemble. We played a number of gigs in Switzerland between 1981 and 1982. We rehearsed at Mooncow H.Q. and had our own J.B.L. P.A. system which was both heavy sounding and shouldering (besides a Hammond organ as well...). After the first few successes, it became evident that each one of us wanted to play different types of music: Southern Rock, Funk, Punk, New Wave, Jazz, Folk, Electronic Music - you name it. So we split at the end of 1982.
Stephan Thelen 1984
In 1983 I teamed up with Guitarist STEPHAN THELEN to form MOONCOWISMS, a small and intelligent mobile unit doing a kind of FRIPP and ENO thing using the loop system featuring 2 Revoxes, electric guitar through a EMS Synthi A, recording a tape at Mooncow H.Q. and playing a few gigs in shops and pubs. Besides a Moog Prodigy synth, I had actually the first Yamaha DX-7 in Switzerland, so our music was very much defined by its then revolutionary first digital sounds. We also used the first digital delays and loop machines. We got noticed by some student promoter from Paris and received an invitation to play at the Paris Sorbonne. Augmenting the band with drummer MAP, project LOOPING THE NATION was born, and the music became more innovative in the vein of the then current incarnation of KING CRIMSON, with MAP playing the electronic Simmons drum pads. But before adding a bass player for further gigs and a tour of Switzerland, the trio of BEAUVERT, THELEN and MAP played a quite adventurous gig at the Sorbonne in Paris on March 14, 1984.
Looping the Nation badge, 1984
Ralph Beauvert and MAP 1984
MOONCOWISMS in Chur August 18, 1984 (Bündner Zeitung)
MOONCOWISMS was a great unit and much fun was shared, as a full band we recorded a live tape at Grabenhalle in St. Gallen and a live video in Schaffhausen, but greater renown was thwarted by unworldly habits and miserable funds. And as usual when success is hard to come by, the involved musicians look elsewhere to play different music anyway, so in spite of all the hard work and enormous input from everybody we all went our separate ways. Recordings: ALL & EVERYTHING by MOONCOWISMS (1984), audio cassette, and LIVE by MOONCOWISMS (1984), audio cassette.
As everybody survived the prophetic year 1984, now was the time to take things in my own hands and go it solo. Going more into a R.I.O. (Rock In Opposition) direction with an attitude of jazz improvisation, with lyrics and songstructures as only the framework for a free interpretation of the songs, I formed HUMAN CONDITION, a loose amalgam of musicians with the electric Viola as the lead instrument played by Daniel Thomas. We recorded a live rehearsal tape and produced a tape with spoken German modern poetry. My instruments at that time were: EMS Synthi A, Moog Prodigy, Yamaha DX-7, Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, Formant Modular Synth and Oberheim DX drum machine. Recordings: SOME NEW SONGS by RALPH BEAUVERT (1985), audio cassette, and 10 SEKUNDEN FÜR IMMER by BEAUVERT/FREI (1986), audio cassette.
HUMAN CONDITION flyer, 1986
HUMAN CONDITION, Tages Anzeiger May 30, 1986
In the same year I was asked to play some live music for the well-known theatre play DIE WELLE ( THE WAVE) by Morton Rhue, about a social experiment that happened in Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California in 1969, and was made into a television movie in 1981 and a popular feature film in 2008. The play was staged at a local theatre and the actors were young pupils from a grammar school augmented with some well-known professionals.This was certainly a great gig for a couple of weeks, playing every evening of the week at a theatre just around the corner! Recording: THE WAVE by RALPH BEAUVERT (1987), audio cassette.
DIE WELLE (THE WAVE) in Winterthur, Landbote October 28, 1986
Come 1987, Ralph seriously invested in his studio with the aim of getting a recording deal to get his personal and idiosyncratic music out of his system and into the market place. No more audio cassettes, I now wanted vinyl! I updated my equipment to become worthy of a true solo artist accordingly, i.e. an Atari computer with in-built Midi interface was now indispensable to explore the full possibilities of Midi, composing and arranging songs. I was now able to program, play and arrange all instruments for a song using this technique. Syncing up a borrowed 8-track TEAC tape machine, I could record vocals and other instruments on tape and have Midi sequencing of all the rest.The updated instrumentation for the upcoming recording of the first solo album was the following: Roland D-50, EMS A Synthi, Moog Prodigy, Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, Formant Modular Synth, Alesis HR-16 drum machine, an Atari 1040 ST running Creator/Notator software.
THE SOLO YEARS 1988 - 1994
Veit F. Stauffer, co-founder of Recommended Records in Zurich and whom I knew from paying visits to his records shop, was looking for artists for his new label B.O.Y. (Because Of You) and offered to produce an album of my songs. In early 1988, Veit and Ralph took to Dorset in the U.K. to attend one of DAEVID ALLEN's (of GONG fame) workshops where a number of connections were established that turmed out to become crucial for the next couple of years. I became friendly with Daevid's then band GONG MAISON and especially its violin player GRAHAM CLARK whom I had met in Italy on the occasion of a GONG MAISON gig and who subsequently ended up playing on my first album TIME AND DISTANCE. Sessions began in Autumn, the album was recorded in December and January 1988/1989 at Dynamo Studio in Zurich and was finally released on February 25, 1989. Besides the dubious talents of an otherwise erratic Italian guitar player by the name of MARIO SCOGNAMIGLIO, the recording features sampling for the first time, a Yamaha TX16W was my main sampler for instruments, and a borrowed Roland S-750 provided a number of drum sounds.
On the way to a workshop in Dorset, 1988
At Mooncow HQ studio, early 1988
See the Youtube video of a studio jam here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLwdkGnxAZE
Press release for the album TIME & DISTANCE (B.O.Y. Records), 1989
International reviews for the album TIME & DISTANCE, 1989
The B.O.Y. Festival was staged at the same time (February 1989) at Rote Fabrik in Zurich to commemorate the release of albums by several B.O.Y. artists. RALPH BEAUVERT and GRAHAM CLARK (violin and glissando guitar) played the whole album TIME & DISTANCE to a critical response - Atari computer midi'd to Roland D-50, a yamaha TX16W sampler, Yamaha TX81Z and Alesis HR-16 drum machine on stage had not been seen before. Additional hardware were my trusted analog synths EMS A and Moog Prodigy. The festival was professionally recorded for national Radio and broadcast a week later. A couple of these live tracks have now become bonus tracks of the CD version of TIME & DISTANCE. After the festival gig , a short but memorable tour of Switzerland was undertaken with RALPH BEAUVERT, GRAHAM CLARK (violin) and SHYAMAL MAITRA (percussion) as THE GREEN BERETS.
Video Stills from the B.O.Y. Festival gig, Zurich 1989
See the Youtube video of the song TIME & DISTANCE here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLkkVtA6io8
Press release for album TIME & DISTANCE and upcoming Tour
Graham Clark 1989
Press release for upcoming Tour of Switzerland as BEAUVERT & THE GREEN BERETS (1989)
The following year, SHYAMAL MAITRA came to Switzerland as the tabla player for G.S. Sachdev, and they needed someone to play the swarpeti, also called Swar Pethi, or shruti box, which is an Indian drone instrument similar to the harmonium. I received a phone call from Shyamal two hours before the gig to come and play with them that evening - I had never before played a Swar Pethi and gave it my first try ever 15 Minutes prior to the concert and it sounded allright. All I needed to do then was getting into a meditative mood, taking a few deep breaths and become calm in order to provide the continuous drone. So I shared a stage with the famous Indian bamboo flute player and the great Shyamal Maitra in a classical Indian music concert in November, 1990. A wonderful time was had by all involved.
Ad for the G.S.Sachdev concert
The same year, another guy I had met in Dorset in February 1988 and who was a young music enthusiast offered me a deal for his newly founded record label. The labe was called VOICEPRINT and the guy's name was Rob Ayling. In 1990 I went to see him in Durham and we agreed a deal. The year was spent composing and updating the studio yet again, augmenting my equipment with a Roland D-50, Yamaha TX16W sampler, Yamaha TX802, Korg EX-8000 synth, Oberheim Matrix 6R, Oberheim Matrix 1000, EMU Procussion, Moog Taurus II and a 8-Track Otari tape machine. When the material was ready, I was joined in the studio by Will Strehler, a fine guitar and stick player who also brought along a Roland Sampler with loads of cool sounds and whom I'd known for a long time, to record RITE OF PASSAGE for Voiceprint at Mooncow H.Q. between 1991 and 1992.
Ralph, Will and Graham recording RITE OF PASSAGE for Voiceprint
Befor the album was out in 1992, in October 1991 both Ralph and Will performed a concert as part of the UK electronica festival featuring CHRIS FRANKE and TIM BLAKE at the Astoria Theatre in London. We were very luck to have played at all, as some of my equipment continually blew the main fuse on stage during rehearsals. All the sequencing was done live with the Atari 1040 ST and racks full of synths and samplers. The gig proper went down very well. The CD STAGES features some songs from this date. I hope we can upload a couple of songs from this gig on Youtube soon.
Ralph and Will at the London Astoria pre-gig 1991, Will stating what he thinks of the headliners...
Ralph and Will at the Astoria 1991
The London Astoria gig October 1991
Video Stills from the Astoria gig 1991
See the Youtube video of the song ANOTHER LIFE ANOTHER DREAM here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLBovg6XUk8
See the Youtube video of the song I BELIEVE IN YOU here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjruakZ2JuI
In 1993/94 electronic music certainly differed from the early days of the '70s, and Ralph who usually goes against the grain in life, this time went with the flow and re-arranged some of his better songs in an 'ambient' manner and went on a club tour to play solo gigs around the country - he actually liked playing the music better than mixing with the decadance of the crowd...A most turbulent time in an emerging new scene.
Poster for a club gig, Rheinfelden, April 8, 1994
THE MOONCOW PROJECT 1995 - 1997
In 1995 I did a bit of travelling and went to icy Moscow in February to meet up with a musician from Armenia I had met in Switzerland - he introduced me to some wonderful music from his homeland and arranged for an hour-long interview with Radio Moscow to feature the new trance music I was about to get involved in. It was actually quite frightening getting into the radio building past all those soldiers brandishing their Kalashnikovs. In summer of the same year I went to see a friend who owns a beautiful house on the island of Bali. I became very interested in the ethnical music at the Vishnu temple around the corner. So I spent a lot of time there and learnt a bit about this fantastic temple trance music, something that was about to pop up again in the next musical venture. The following year, I did a bit more of the Asian travelling and also went to the island of Ko Samui in Thailand and, more interesting for sure, to Kashmir in India in 1997. These travels were important to expand the (musical) horizon and were certainly mirrored in the music of THE MOONCOW PROJECT, a spaced out electronic trance venture with lots of oriental sampling and ethnic percussion.
Pentatonic trance music on the veranda: Bali 1995
Communicating with Hanuman: Ko Samui 1996
Looking for and finding inspiration in Kashmir 1997
THE MOONCOW PROJECT Flyer, 1997
From 1995 until 1997 Ralph hooked up with a versatile percussionist and drummer called ENZO LOPARDO. He used to be in a band with Will Strehler and wanted to play new music as well. He was well-versed in the method of sampling and knew the secrets of the groove. From 1995 to 1997 we recorded the album NANDI for our new outfit THE MOONCOW PROJECT, an all-out percussive trance band with a strong oriental flavour recalling the underground music of the '70s in a new vein. For instance, I sampled some sounds by QUINTESSENCE for one track. Some of the songs such as PARVATI DEVI were later reworked and ended up on the SHIVA SHAKTI album.
The Mooncow Project live in 1997
Still using the old EMS A for space effects, the equipment was much smaller by now, all the synths such as Quasimidi Quasar (TRE and Hardcore) were in a rack, the instruments were triggered by a Yamaha KX 5 keytar, the sampler then was a state-of-the-art Akai S3000 XL, and instead of Midi sequencing playback was by DAT. Recording NANDI we used 2x Alesis Adat, Novation Bass Station, Yamaha AN1x and the first available plug-ins for synths and drum machines, plus Roland and Akai Samplers, EMS A, Moog Prodigy as well as all kinds of percussion instruments. Sequencing and arrangements were done with Cubase. And the computers by now were Apple G3s.
THE MOONCOW PROJECT: one of their rare live appearances in 1997
We were unlucky to find distribution or an international label. We really tried to get it going, I even travelled to New York and Los Angeles to make some contacts but realised then that this new trance music had not yet arrived in the States, it was very underground indeed (a bit like the early '70s music) and more British/German in its nature, having its origin in Goa/India. People I met in Santa Monica in California seemed to be the only ones who were into Goa/Trance at the time. Around this time, I also did some studio work for a friend of mine that went on some CDs he produced for children, and also a bit of music that was used on Swiss TV.
Mr. Beauvert going to New York and Los Angeles to find a deal for THE MOONCOW PROJECT in 1996
1998 - NOW
Logo for the website online since 1999
In 1998 I got involved with the emerging possibilities of the then young internet by building a website for QUINTESSENCE, a band whose music and philosophy had always been around my mind since the early '70s. Having sampled some of their music in THE MOONCOW PROJECT, I suddenly realised I could get in touch with them personally and try to win them over to do new stuff together. I got in touch with all of them and found the two guitar players and the singer to be very positive about some new venture. I went to Yorkshire twice to see and meet DAVE CODLING, I went to Germany to meet up with ALLAN MOSTERT, and then I went to California to see SHIVA JONES. This was the beginning of something worthwhile and, ultimately, very satisfactory. Unfortunately we were unable to commit with ALLAN who played his own style of music and was not able to connect with the rest of us in a satisfactory way. So it was SHIVA and me who in 2000 laid the foundations for a rebirth of QUINTESSENCE music in a new, modern musical venture, relishing the spiritual heritage and even deepening its impact to create what was to become SHIVA SHAKTI and SHIVA'S QUINTESSENCE. To record these albums I used a lot of software instruments besides a Waldorf Q, Yamaha AN1x, Roland Piano ep75, Akai S3000 XL, EMS A and Moog Prodigy.The computers were Appple G3/G4 running Cubase. As of 2012 I'm using mostly software for instruments as there are so many great sounding plug-ins out there. My main software synths these days are Spectrasonics Omnisphere, u-he Zebra 2 and some Native Instruments plug-ins and I'm running Logic on a MacBook Pro - and I still use the old EMS A Synthi now and again.
Rebirth of Quintessence music: California 2000
See the Cornelius interviews page for the rebirth of Quintessence music and the SHIVA SHAKTI album here:
Recording SHIVA SHAKTI at Mooncow H.Q., 2002
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Last Update May 2012