Gerhard Illi

From Illinoise with Love

Cover of the first CD "From Illinoise with Love"

The idea

The Project Illinoise emerges from the conviction that it must be possible to create modern relentless music only with a drum set. In the beginning there was the dream to be like Oscar Matzerath who told endless stories with his tin drum. This dream grew bit by bit witnessing the ecstatical rhythms of “Sternenplatz” during the carnival of Lucerne, the echoing of drums through Basel’s narrow streets, the large cowbells of Küssnacht, the Drum Fanfares of the Highlands, countless solos of countless drummers, the suffering of the background drummers, ethereal sounds of refined classical percussionists, samba schools in full eruption, the gamelans and their celestial sound, the magic of the drums of the great plains, the exquisite filigrees of ragas played by hand on tabla hides, the rolls of the snare drums in Seville, hand clapping at ferias and romerías, the polirithmical heat of the African continent and his talking drums, the carillon of a lost sanctuary, orgies of magrebi tambourines… all of those and many more have contributed in the course of years dedicated to hearing, learning and practising to make reality the dream of a child who isn’t young anymore. How many times did I hear: Don’t make that much noise! And there comes Illi – noise from. (Also the most important part of my drum set was made in Chicago, Illinois). From Illinoise with love: With regards to everybody who showed me the way to create sounds and rhythms.


The development

I was always fascinated by the Idea of music only by and for a drum set. The first try was at the International Jazz Festival at Zurich in 1970 with remarkable success, winning the silver medal. In Düsseldorf there were a series of solo concerts, still with a normal sized drum set. Always in the search of new sounds it became bigger by the addition of new instruments. Some remain and some were discarded after some exhaustive trials. Still today my drum set represents a snapshot subject to constant evolution and constant changes. Techniques of composition and sound treatment for electronic music learned at Graz have been reincorporated; influences of countless musical styles have been reinterpreted for drums. It is an endless procedure, the farther one gets, the wider the field opens in front of our marvelled senses.


„From Illinoise with Love“ becomes reality

On July 13th 2002 the moment had come: The first CD of the “From Illinoise with Love” project had been recorded. The text on the cover transmits the feeling of that moment:


The great loves are declared always through intimate strokes, fine dragged, full of sensibility, using, worldwide it seems, the methods that are most useful to achieve this: a poem, an elegy, a simple poetry, a sonnet, a ballade, a romance why not?, a water painting, a miniature, a drawing by pen, even the white filigree of a mogul palace or the shout of a fantastic symphony. What a contrast, those soft feelings and the rude hitting of the drums. I was seduced by the idea of expressing my state of lover and being loved, full of joy and gratitude, thorough the art I really master, the one of making noise. So Concerto for Lily was born, the description of an encounter in space and time, which was recorded in her presence on July 13th 2002 in Castaño del Robledo. I hope you feel the same as me in this joyful evening playing the drums and talking about eternal love.


Many more concerts and recordings were to come, each one a different experience, each story with a different ending, an eternal flux of musical ideas made drums.