Loisach Marci from Garmisch-Partenkirchen has created his very own brand of music. He combines electronic music with the sound of the alphorn and calls it “Alphorntechno”. How did this particular mixture come about and what role does the Loisach river play as a source of inspiration...
The Alphorn Techno Musician Loisach Marci from Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Creativity, they say, happens when you combine things that at first glance don’t seem to go together at all. Sometimes this happens through trial and error, sometimes by chance through a stroke of luck. This must have been the case for the musician Marcel Engler, aka Loisach Marci, with his “Alphorntechno”. In a way, the musical direction just came to him.
The Birth of Alphorn Techno
The key moment or the birth of alphorn techno occurred somewhat by chance: Marcel Engler was booked for a festival a few years ago, with his alphorn. When he was in the middle of sound check, because he was supposed to open the event with the alphorn, something happened that would become pivotal.
There was still electronic music playing from a DJ who was also supposed to play at the festival. “There was a DJ playing music in the background. He just didn't stop while I was doing sound check, and then he started playing some kind of techno beat and it sounded really bangin’. I just started played along with it. At that moment I got goosebumps all over my body and thought to myself: ‘Ok, this sounds so sick’."
Meanwhile, people started to gather in front of the stage to watch Loisach Marci. “They had a huge question mark on their face. What the hell? At that point you could already feel that something was happening,” he says when he thinks back to that moment.
Alphorn Techno as a Way of Life
This moment, back then at the festival, unleashed something in Marcel. A feeling. Was it coincidence or was it fate? A flash of inspiration? It doesn’t really matter, because the musician realised at that moment that this was something new that had potential. So he continued to pursue this mixture of electronic music, alphorn techno and Bavarian dialect. Today he packs concert halls with it, plays regularly at the Wiesn and is booked for performances beyond the borders.
“It is unbelievable. Sound just does something to people. It doesn’t matter how old they are. Some people are standing there with tears in their eyes after my concerts,” he says. How would Loisach Marci describe his “alphorn techno”? “You can’t describe it, it’s a feeling towards life.” A feeling and a musical direction that was a developing process.
Marcel, who grew up in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, already knew as a child that his path was to be a musical one: “I already knew when I was four or five that music was my thing. If anything involved music, I was transfixed and just focused on that. The world could collapse all around me, I was completely fixated on it.”
The Fundamental Tone of Water? An F
When Marcel talks about his music and the alphorn, there is one thing he never forgets: His connection with nature, especially with his home Garmisch-Partenkirchen and his home river, the Loisach. It is both a source of inspiration and a place of strength for him. And there’s something else he notices, which may be difficult for unmusical ears to grasp: “The Loisach inspires me.”
“Water flows in F, and the natural harmonic series on my alphorn is also in F.”
Its water has a very special sound. “If you have ten people who can sing really well and you play these people the sound of running water and then ask each of them independently to sing something to the sound of the water, they all end up – and this is the crazy thing – always on the fundamental tone F. Water flows in F and also the natural harmonic series on my alphorn is in F.” He says it’s things like that that inspire him. That does something with him.
Tradition Yes, but with an Open Mind
Anyone who has ever seen Marcel at one of his performances knows that the man appears exclusively in Tracht, which refers to traditional garments in German-speaking countries and regions. A Bavarian who wears Tracht, plays the alphorn and combines it with beats and synthesizers? It sounds just as crazy as it is cool.
Yet it was not met with enthusiasm from everyone. “There were also people back home who thought I was dragging their tradition through the mud,” says the musician.
Nevertheless, he continued to do his thing and to believe in it. And successfully so. Even the sceptics gradually began to understand that Loisach Marci was not spoiling tradition, but creating something new within alpine music culture that was constantly evolving. He treats customs with respect, which many would not recognise at first glance.
Or, as he himself writes on his website: “Do something cool with musical tradition, but don’t mess it up.”
Marcel Engler performed as the duo Loisach Marci with the musician Jens-Peter Abele until the end of 2022. Shortly after the joint farewell concert in December 2022 at the Glockenbachwerkstatt in Munich, Jens-Peter tragically passed away completely unexpectedly.
... from Loisach Marci
I don’t really like big events all that much. But the Garmisch-Partenkirchner festival at the end of July and beginning of August is something special that you really need to see at least once. It’s a really ancient and traditional affair.
gapa.de (only in German)
If you are looking for the traditional, original flair at the Wiesn in Munich, then you've got to see the so-called Oidn Wiesn. There I perform in the Herzkasperl tent and celebrate with the visitors. There is an exuberant atmosphere in the festival tent. The visitors sing and dance to my music.
The reservoir at the foot of the Königsstand provided water for Werdenfels Castle many centuries ago; today it is the starting point for hikes. At “Berggasthof Pflegersee”, you can enjoy a snack and Bavarian cuisine with a wonderful mountain panorama.
pflegersee.com (only in German)
As a boy, little Marcel was here again and again. Listened to the old stories that told of how the gorge was used in the 18th century for timber drifting, how they let the trees from the forests around the Reintal float northwards through the Partnach and later fished them out of the water again. Today, the 700-metre-long gorge is one of the biggest visitor attractions in Werdenfelser Land. At the beginning of the 20th century, narrow rock passages were blasted out of the mountain. In some places the walls open up, the view of the sky breaks through. From above, guileless droplets of water pearl into the depths to be swallowed up and carried away by the greedy floods of the raging torrent. The Partnach gorge has been measured to be up to 100 decibels loud in some parts. The background noise has also left its mark on Marcel. He looks at the untamed torrent and suddenly says: “Alpine power station. That’s what perhaps sums up my music best.”