The latest issue Swiss contemporary music magazine Zweikommasieben continues to flout the logic of magazine identity.
Every issue of Zweikommasieben looks different, changing format and design at a whim. Perhaps it can get away with this because of its distinctive name – I’m still not entirely sure I pronounce it correctly – but its shapeshifting nature also reflects the world of music it covers and its relationship with typography and physical design.
This time, the mag is ring-bound, like a notebook. It makes a satisfying squeak as you turn the pages, and thanks to the format it lays flat, making for comfortable, leisurely reading. It needs just that – Zweikommasieben may be a slim-looking publication, but thanks to the thin, shiny pages, small font and dual languages (English and German), it is surprisingly dense.
From its 2011 beginnings, the magazine has had an inherent confidence. It’s a magazine that takes good design and rigorous journalism just as seriously as the music. The interviews themselves are pacy and interesting, the antithesis of basic promotional content. English translations run easily alongside the German text, rather than being hidden away in a booklet, or the German being entirely disregarded in favour of an English version of the mag.
This issue covers a wide range of artists, from the more well-known to the relatively underground. Online journalism has freed up the new generation of music mags to feature underexposed artists, now they’re longer under pressure to report on ‘industry news’. Issue 20 has interviews with Carl Gari (above), Kelman Duran and Suzanne Ciani, to name a few.
Alongside the in-depth interviews, there are more conceptual features: poetry by Cia Rinne, a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park by Paul Woolford (above), a photographic essay by Georg Gatsas. On top of that, the Zweikommasieben runs events, and their online shop works as an online archive, stocking everything from posters to cassettes.
Friends of mine who are obsessive about contemporary music of all genres assure me that magazines are still their first port of call when it comes to discovering new artists. In the wake of the death of music-mag titans like NME, it’s exciting to see diverse approaches like Zweikommasieben addressing that passion.
Editorial team: Remo Bitzi, Guy Schwegker and Marc Schwegler
Design: Prasens Buro (Simon Ruegg and Raphael Schoen)