Richard Köchli, professional musician for 18 years, has stood as a guitarist on stage alongside countless greats (Larry Garner, Yvonne Moore, Polo Hofer, Philipp Fankhauser, Keiser Twins, Luke Gassner, Jens Krüger, Jenny White and many more). He works as a studio musician and producer for artists like Dänu Brüggemann, KRIZZ and Blues Max and has made a name for himself in Germany as the author of successful teaching books (‘Slide Guitar Styles’ and ‘Best in the West’). Together with his band, ‘Blue Roots Compagnie’, Köchli has now recorded a new CD which definitely leads him away from being just a guitar virtuoso and towards a career as an ambitious singer and songwriter.
Köchli has been commuting between two worlds for 15 years: In Switzerland, he earns a living as a musician and producer; in France, he lives with his wife and works on his own sound and writing projects. This suspense fits with his character and is mirrored in his work. Even his last album, ‘Blue Celtic Mystery’ (2003, MARA-Records), which is a fusion of Celtic music and myths with the roots of blues, was like a wilful link between two cultures and gained a lot of respect in France. On his new album, ‘laid-back’ (MARA-Records), Köchli once again presents himself as a builder of bridges: he playfully merges different styles (folk, blues, rock, Cajun etc.) and wraps it all up in intensive melodies which are accessible to pop-lovers. Sure-footed, he works with the contrast between two proud language cultures, the French and the English. He bravely switches the perspectives in his stories, changing from relaxed happiness to humorous self-criticism, to an abyss for the soul or even a cynical mordancy. Seemingly effortlessly, he manages the step between pure instrumentalist to singer, who knows his wild card (the slide guitar) and consistently places this in the service of his stories.
What we have is a subtle, first-rate ‘roots’ album. Köchli has not tried to erase the traces of all those who have inspired him, however he has made every effort to tell and broadcast his own stories. “You can hardly believe that someone can come from Switzerland and still sound like the deepest blues of the southern states” (www.gitarrenlinks.de) – or, as Larry Garner said after Köchli’s guest appearance on stage in Lucerne: “Maybe I won’t remember your face, but I’ll never forget your slide guitar!”