CTM Festival Berlin 2017: Fear Anger Love.

In Featured Events / January 26, 2017

It is hard to find synthetic expressions for the current emotional states, amidst growing concerns over a variety of societal issues, uncertainties, and clear perspectives on the future. But Fear, Anger, Love – the theme of this year’s edition of CTM Festival in Berlin – was conceived as an attempt to present musicians and artists that are working with emotion in various ways to respond to urgent societal issues and conflicts that increasingly seem to be emotionally driven. Fear, Anger, and Love are entry points into confrontation with desire, empathy, despair, grief, euphoria, hatred, fragility, disgust, nihilism, rage, loneliness, and other sensations. Music conjures emotions more intensely than most art forms, and makes it possible to experience the ambiguous effects and possibilities of intentional emotionalisation.

Fear Anger Love / ever elusive - the themes of CTM Festival and transmediale 2017

The worrisome upswing of political populism clearly demonstrates the relentless power of emotions to boil over into dangerous explosive forces. Whenever successfully deployed, its calculated emotions amplify resentment, supporting bigotry and homogenising, reactionary policies. Yet, if things get out of hand, such tactics don’t simply fail, but the emotions unleashed might flare up into even greater instability. Wherever we look these days, the emotionalisation of politics prevents solutions, exacerbates polarisation and escalates conflicts.

But are emotions themselves the problem, or is it the way in which they are exploited by those who virtuosically play with mass media’s mechanisms in order to mobilise anti-democratic, essentialist, and nationalist agendas? Don’t emotions also give a powerful voice to those who are excluded from equal participation, and their demands for most just, diverse, inclusive and open societies? How do we distinguish between progressive and reactionary, or democratic versus anti-democratic, use of emotion? And what does this all have to do with music?

As an art uniquely placed to express and engender emotions, music has always been firmly tied to the explosive janus of its emotionality. In fact, the debate about the manipulative, seductive, or emancipatory potential of resonant emotion is as old as the music itself. As far back as the ancient times, music’s potential to threaten moral or political order due to its physical power and hypnotic sensuality was apprehensively discussed. It was feared that music could undermine individual autonomy, induce uncontrollable group dynamics, feminise and soften male self-control. Musical sirens threatened delusion and ruin. This problem was met with the attempt to spiritualise music by coupling it to a heavenly harmony and by describing it in purely mathematical terms, such as to detach it from our real bodies. Even today musical positions exist, which abandon its emotional possibilities and search for a rational, context-free music or conceptually driven social criticism. Such movements are not least due to the experiences of 20th century totalitarian systems and the hegemonizing mechanisms of the cultural industry. But don’t we need emotions as much as we should fear them? And is analytical criticism really the primary task of music and art? On the other end of the spectrum stands a music that wants to be an expression of radical subjective feelings. Such music is born out of personal and social conflicts, and rallies against the suppression of dissonant feelings and types of experience. If not channelled strategically and manipulatively, real emotions, however difficult they may be, give us access to experiences beyond social norms. They inevitably bring into focus the social conditions and conflicts that both trigger intensive reactions and are simultaneously their target. They challenge individuals and societies to consider how to deal both with emotions and with those enthused by them, to ask how open we can be, how much space we want to give those with a different emotional makeup, and how great a capacity we have for integration and resilience.

The 2017 edition of transmediale – festival for art and digital culture, suggestively titled ever elusive, marks the event’s 30th anniversary with an entire month of activities at Haus der Kulturen der Welt and other venues, starting February 2 through March 5, 2017. The theme refers both to the elusiveness of media cultures in constant transition and to transmediale itself, as a project that is constantly shifting ground. In searching for where agency and power lie in today’s media systems, transmediale’s 30th edition offers a nuanced outlook on the nonhuman and its role as an influential motor of change. A dense programme of conferences, screenings, workshops and performances – some of which presented in collaboration with CTM – invite visitors for critical debate and exchange. Starting January 20, Vorspiel 2017 is a joint effort by transmediale and CTM to create and strengthen the network and scene of cultural actors and institutions in Berlin. More than 30 project spaces, galleries, and institutions that engage with digital art and culture, as well as experimental sounds and music, create a distributed programme of exhibitions, performances, concerts, presentations, and other formats.

CTM 2017 designed by Vojd. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.
CTM 2017 designed by Vojd. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.

A major aim of the CTM Festival since its inception has been to make space for radical forms of musical expression and dissonant emotions. Under the title Fear Anger Love, CTM 2017 will focus explicitly on such emotions found in or through music and will examine the diverse strategies that are applied to unleash or harness them. With special projects and commissions, performances, an intensive daytime programme and an outlook that continues to search the fringes of current music geographies, CTM 2017 will examine the unhinging and emancipatory potential of resonant (musical) emotion to recurrently question and challenge the status quo. From January 27 to February 5, CTM 2017 Fear Anger Love returns to its constellation of exciting nightlife and cultural venues in Berlin, including HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berghain, Yaam, and Heimathafen Neukölln.

CTM enters the cavernous Halle am Berghain for the first time for the world premiere of Kurt Hentschläger’s SOL, an installation that builds on loss of control, shifts in awareness and feelings of dislocation and timelessness. Also relevant is the CTM 2017 exhibition Critical Constellations of the Audio-Machine in Mexico, which will be created in close collaboration with researcher and curator Carlos Prieto Acevedo (MX). The exhibition traces the history and current state of electronic music and sound art in Mexico. It pays special attention to the interactions between sonic imaginaries and the nation’s collective struggles with survival, fragility, and identity.

SOL by Kurt Hentschläger

With SOL, his new installation, Chicago-based Austrian artist Kurt Hentschläger creates a radically minimalistic environment by attempting to recalibrate visitors’ senses, leading them into the far reaches of their perception along subjective and objective realities. The installation builds on loss of control, shifts in awareness and a feeling of dislocation and timelessness, immersing visitors in a splendid void. The world premiere of SOL is presented in the cavernous Halle am Berghain during CTM. Born in Linz, Kurt Hentschläger creates immersive audiovisual installations and performances. He was part of the seminal duo Granular Synthesis between 1992 and 2003. His works have been presented internationally at the Venice Biennale, The Venice Theater Biennale, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, PS1 New York, Creative Time New York, Musée d’Art Contemporain Montreal, Museum für angewandte Kunst Vienna, ZKM Karlsruhe, National Museum of China in Beijing, National Museum for Contemporary Art in Seoul, ICC Tokyo, Arte Alameda Mexico City, Sharjah Art Foundation, and the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania. Co-commissioned by OK Offenes Kulturhaus Oberösterreich, Linz, and co-produced by CTM Festival, SOL is curated by Isabelle Meiffert.

Kurt Hentschläger, SOL, 2017. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.
Kurt Hentschläger, SOL, 2017. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.

Mexico Focus: Exploring the Past and Present of Experimental Music and Sound Art in Mexico

Two compelling evenings at HAU Hebbel am Ufer (HAU2) as well as performances at Berghain and Radialsystem will extend a festival-wide focus on Mexico anchored by the CTM 2017 exhibition Critical Constellations of the Audio-Machine in Mexico, which examines the history and current status of sound art and electronic music in the country. Planned in collaboration with exhibition curator Carlos Prieto Acevedo, the first of two nights at HAU2 will feature California-based Mexican composer Guillermo Galindo’s special version of the the outstanding multimedia project Border Cantos. This rendition features improvised pieces for live electronics and hybrid artifacts or “cyber-totemic sonic objects.” The ingenious hand-built instruments, developed by Galindo together with long-time friend Don Buchla, are fashioned from objects lost by some of the countless persons attempting to cross the Mexican-US border: shoes, water jugs, soccer jerseys, combs… The objects were found by American photographer Richard Misrach, whose portfolio of stunning images documenting the border territories comprises the second half of the original multimedia Border Cantos project. Border Cantos will also appear in the exhibition alongside Galindo’s Ome Acatl, which translates the cosmic mythology of the Aztec calendar into an orchestral score.

Using a radio and cassette devices, Angelica Castelló embarks on a journey through an enigmatic territory of lost memories. Though Castelló’s sources of inspiration, which range from literature to visual art, often have specific roots, they all consistently lead her to an abstract engagement with existential topics such as fragility, trauma, and death. British mezzo soprano Loré Lixenberg will reinterpret Study no. 27, a piece for mechanical pianola written in 1965 by the late Mexican composer Conlon Nancarrow, as a multichannel vocal tour de force. The established young singer Carmina Escobar uses feedback, hidden resonances, customised microphone devices and the dramaturgy of vocal gestures to craft a deep, intimate, post-operatic story. Trained in a broad range of Mexican national folkloric instruments, composer-performer Roberto Morales-Manzaneres uses his own software, ESCAMOL, to metamorphosize inspirations from nature, algorithmic composition and real-time gesture interaction into a surround-sound performance with Mayan harp, Wii controllers and electronics. Morales-Manzaneres’s body of work is inspired by the sea, by wind and waves, by mathematical equations, and now, thanks to his collaboration with space scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, by the breeze of electrons generated by the sun.

The second evening at HAU2 belongs to Liminar, Mexico’s leading ensemble for contemporary music, which will premiere a new work by Mexican composer Carlos Sandoval. Mexican National Anthem (as I recall it from my childhood) will fuse a score performed by Liminar and a solo soprano with sounds and images from Sandoval`s own video work. Ensemble member and guitarist José Manuel Alcántara will perform a series of solo electroacoustic compositions by early Mexican experimenters. Liminar will also appear in a special partner programme at Radialsystem in the first of a four-evening concert series conceptualised and produced by Ensemble KNM Berlin. The series, entitled Die Welt nach Tiepolo, presents the four parts of French philosopher and spectral composer Hughes Dufourt’s epochal d’après Tiepolo composition cycle, beginning on February 4th with the movement L’Amerique d’après Tiepolo. The bulk of Dufourt’s major works have been inspired by painters from Bruegel to Goya to Pollock; this particular series takes as its departure point frescos (1752-53) by the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo on the ceiling of the Würzburg Palace in Germany depicting the four continents known at the time. They were also critical commentaries on early globalisation and the European colonial project to conquer the world. The piece, made up of four parts each devoted to a continent (L’Afrique, L’Asie, L’Amerique, L’Europe), employs a twenty-first-century musical grammar characterized by inexorable regeneration, contortion, synthesis, and instability. Dufourt’s composition depicts a revolutionized world view while paying homage to traditional understandings of location and physicality. The perspectives offered by Tiepolo and in turn by Dufourt question established understandings of old and new, of center and periphery, and this questioning is voiced via instruments historical and modern, exotic and familiar, homemade and universal, and by musicians from all over the world. The evening’s programme will be shared between KNM and Liminar – each of the ensembles will perform its own repertoire and then collaborate on two pieces. L’Amerique d’après Tiepolo will be performed by Ensemble KNM Berlin alone. Liminar will perform four chamber pieces by the Mexican microtonal pioneer Julián Carillo, all of which are written for sixteenth-tone harp and several of which use quarter-tone guitar, flute, and strings, among other instruments. 1928’s I think of you features a solo voice part sung by Carmina Escobar, who also appears earlier in the week at HAU2. KNM and Liminar will join forces on a specially commissioned work by the Mexican-Dutch composer Juan Felipe Waller, Dreizehn Kontemplationen gegen eine Intervention des Schalls 2017 (WP) and on the piece Form 1 (in memoriam Edgard Varèse) by experimental California composer James Tenney.

CTM collaborates with MUTEK.MX to present contemporary club sounds by the emergent young Mexican artist and NAAFI affiliate Siete Catorce, who warps memories of all-night family birthday and quinceañera parties with hypnotising sadness, rage and foreboding. Marco Polo Gutierrez was born in Mexicali and grew up in Oakland, California before his family was deported back to Mexico. His music responds via an expressive, individualized vocabulary to the difficulty of modern life in the country: wages stay low while the cost of living rises; cartel violence and political corruption are the rampant norms. Gutierrez operates at the forefront of a spooky, dark mutant of cumbia known as ruidosón, which emerged in Tijuana from a wider pool of styles under the umbrella of ‘primal’ or ‘pre-Hispanic’ guarachero. Ruidosón is a particularly political offshoot of guarachero; its producers stood out and stand out for their angry reactions to ex-president Felipe Calderon and to the Institutional Revolutionary Party that gained power via Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012. Gutierrez, both through his music and via social media outlets, is also an honest spokesperson for the universal condition of emotional turbulence: he is well acquainted with soaring highs and bottomless lows.

( SIC ), an improvisation project by noise artist and 3D graphics wizard Julian Bonequi and electronic musician Rodrigo Ambriz, hybridizes savage percussion and extreme vocals into spasmic states and possessive sensations. It ritualistically detonates the primitive and the ecstatic, intuition and self-induced alienation, the bold and the subtle through a series of short, explosive vignettes. Bonequi will appear on vocals, drums, and turntable; Ambriz shares the vocal responsibility and plays tapes and electronics. Julian Bonequi also appears in this year’s CTM Radio lab with The Death of the Anthropocene, a work inspired by radio drama and sci-fi movies.

CTM 2017 Exhibition. Photography by Antonio Russek. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.
CTM 2017 Exhibition. Photography by Antonio Russek. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.

Critical Constellations of the Audio-Machine in Mexico

This year’s exhibition takes as its focus the history and current state of electronic music and sound art in Mexico, guiding visitors through the various different musical styles and sound experiments that have emerged in the country since the beginning of the 20th century. Curated by sound researcher Carlos Prieto Acevedo, the exhibition features work by a number of active members of the Mexican sound art community, including Ariel GuzikAngélica CastellóGuillermo GalindoRoberto Morales Manzaneres, Verónica Gerber, Mario de Vega and Carlos Sandoval. Talks and performances featuring Mexican music from the last 20 years as well as reworks and reconstructions of pieces from the beginnings of experimental music in Mexico link the exhibition to a larger international context.

Modernity and its influence on musicians and artists since the beginning of the 20th century; nationalism and identity; the role of machines in modernization; and the neo-liberal economic and political project that has engulfed Mexico since the 1990s are all turning points that have reflected themselves in musical and artistic production. In order to address these themes, the exhibition is organized in the form of a constellation of experiences that unfold in five sections: Indo-Futurism, The Mexican Cosmopolis, The Monstrous, Emanations and Epilogue. It avoids chronological narratives, instead favouring connections and assemblages that respond to the logics of rupture, astonishment, the accident, curiosity, promise, survival and fragility and to the possibility of reinventing life in the wake of an identity and cultural crisis within the essentialist project of the nation.

Focusing primarily on the aesthetics of sound, the exhibition will also reveal a larger cultural context by highlighting overlaps with visual arts, literature and cinema. It expands upon Carlos Acevedo’s book, Voltage Variations: Conversations with Mexican Sound Artists and Electronic Musicians, which was presented at CTM Festival in January 2014.

MusicMakers Hacklab

The MusicMakers Hacklab takes place in collaboration with CDM, Native Instruments, and the SHAPE Platform, and aims to provide expression to the question: Now that our sense of self is intertwined with technology, what can we say about our relationship with those objects beyond the rational? The phrase “expression” is commonly associated with musical technology, but what is being expressed, and how? In the 2017 Hacklab, participants will explore the irrational and non-rational, the sense of mind as more than simply computer, delving into the deeper frontiers of our own human wetware. Building on 2016’s venture into the rituals of music technology, CTM encourages the social and interpersonal dynamics of musical creations by inviting new ideas about how musical performance and interaction evoke feelings, and how they might realize emotional needs.

The hacklab is a collaborative, improvisatory, experimental environment for working together to conceive and realise new ideas in a week of intensive activity. CTM has been looking for participants to share diverse backgrounds such as: musicians, composers, sound artists, inventors, developers, engineers, instrument builders, music therapists, psychologists, experts in affective neuroscience, singers, and more, to work with ideas like: How to trigger emotional responses and empathy in performance; Performance constructions that express the emotions of the artists; Exploring specific sounds and rituals relating to emotional understanding; Interweaving narrative, psychology, and relationships in the performance interface and live presentation. The week will begin with hands-on experiments in the building blocks of music – both acoustic and electronic – and progress toward a finished variety show of performances in the HAU2 theater space. Interested artists and developers from various disciplines have been encouraged to submit music project ideas to become Hacklab Fellows, learning and collaborating with master artists/technologists. The Hacklab is intended as a rich, immersive experience where new ideas are created on the spot, in spontaneous collaboration with others.

The Hacklab is facilitated by Berlin-born artist and musician Byrke Lou and audiovisual artist, technologist, and journalist Peter Kirn. Byrke Lou experiments with the physicality of matter, sound, and the theoretical models we invent in order to communicate with and describe our surroundings. She studied Physics, Philosophy and Digital Art as well as Design, Informatics, Electroacoustic Composition, Media Theory and Dance, and trained at IFISC (Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems) in Mallorca, Spain. She has been teaching sound and space at HfK Bremen and UdK Berlin and has been working at scientific institutions such as the MARUM in Bremen, Germany. In January 2016, she started the movLab, an open group that resides at Spektrum Berlin and discusses the body and its relation to performance art and digitalization processes. Her work has been shown at transmediale Berlin, Ars Electronica Linz, and at Berlin events CTM Festival and 3HD Festival. Peter Kirn is an audiovisual artist, technologist, and journalist. He is the editor of CDM (createdigitalmusic.com and createdigitalmotion.com), and co-creator of the open source MeeBlip hardware synthesizer. His work ranges from teaching creative coding with open tools to making experimental live techno, and as a writer has been a hub of discussion of trends in live and interactive visuals, and the design of new music technologies.

CTM 2017 Exhibition. Photograph by Guillermo Galindo. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.
CTM 2017 Exhibition. Photograph by Guillermo Galindo. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.

CTM x SET Festival: Contemporary Electronic Music in Iran

CTM 2017 has teamed up with the Tehran-based SET Festival for experimental art to present works at the forefront of the Iranian capital’s electronic music scene. In a new commission, Ata Ebtekar aka Sote will collaborate with performers Arash Bolouri and Behrouz Pashaei on a project merging electronics with traditional Persian acoustic instruments (the santoor and the setar) for a “Persian techno apocalypse.” The visuals will be contributed by virtuoso Thom Yorke and Monolake collaborator Tarik Barri. Guitarist and producer Siavash Amini constructs rich sonic environments lined with microbeats and “soul-healing” electric guitar riffs. The experimental electronic duo 9T Antiope layers acoustic instruments, vocals and electronics. Both of these young projects will help to represent a scene that flourishes through Iranian citizens’ ingenuity and resourcefulness in making the most of the piecemeal reform occurring over the past several years alongside internet-based research and grassroots artistic exertions.

This programme is enabled through cooperation with the Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Foreign Office and was planned as an element within the framework of the exhibition Die Teheran Sammlung at Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie. The exhibition, which was scheduled to open December 2016 and finally had to be canceled due to unresolved negotiations, had been designed to present a glimpse into the hitherto mostly unseen collection of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. It was meant to combine one of the most extensive selections of 20th-century Western art outside of Europe and the USA with examples of innovative Iranian art, especially from the 1960s and 70s. The collection was first assembled for the opening of the TMoCA in 1977 under the second Shah of the Pahlavi Dynasty. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the works have been effectively closed off from the rest of the world.

CTM 2017 Radio Lab: Commissioned Works

Returning for a fourth edition, the CTM 2017 Radio Lab is dedicated to exploration and experimentation with the hybrid possibilities of combining the medium of radio with live performance. The Lab programme will host two projects commissioned by Deutschlandradio Kultur – Hörspiel/Klangkunst and CTM Festival, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, the SoCCoS – the Sound of Culture, the Culture of Sound initiative, ORF musikprotokoll im steirischen herbst, and Ö1 Kunstradio. The CTM 2017 Radio Lab Open Call for works sought unusual ideas for pairing the specific artistic possibilities of radio with the potentials of live performance or installation, that also explore the CTM 2017 Festival theme: Fear Anger Love. The two selected works will premiere at CTM 2017, and subsequently be broadcast via Deutschlandradio Kultur in March 2017. Later in Autumn 2017, these works will be presented by the ORF (Austrian National Broadcasting Corporation) via one of their platforms.

Rima Najdi’s Happy New Fear takes its starting point in questions such as: What does a society gripped by fear do? Does it cease to function, or carry on in denial? Or does society’s respect for fear, which is real after all, demand we not ask such questions? Do we live our fear alone or do we share it? How can we tell a story about those emotions and questions? In 2014, Rima Najdi performed the intervention known as Madame Bomba: The TNT project in her hometown of Beirut. Feeling the need to act and open a conversation about anxiety and fear caused by suicide car bombings and pervasive violence everywhere she wore a fake cartoon TNT bomb around her chest while roaming the streets. Taking off from this action, Happy New Fear blends elements of experimental music, sound art, visual projections and live radio drama as it follows Madame Bomba and her search for her lover in the city, a stranger who exists in the collective consciousness and of whom everyone is afraid of. Using audiovisual material sourced directly from Beirut, Najdi maps out Bomba’s walks, her negotiation of her own fear of walking as a breathing bomb. The work aims to explore the feeling of being alone, inadequate, and to confront the illusion of having control over one’s fear. The story reflects how violence is not only direct, explosive and spectacular, but structural, gradual and anonymous, targeting everyone. Together with musician Kathy Alberici (of Drum Eyes fame) and visual artist Ana Nieves Moya, Najdi aims to explore the environment of emotions, their multiplicity, their uncertainty, and the contradictory nature of their temporality. “Rima is an artist working on the intersection between performance, audio and choreography. Her piece for CTM Radiolab will be an audio re-staging of her controversial Beirut walk – a sounding of the politics of fear – which captured the jury’s imagination” comments jury member Anne Hilde Neset.

The Death of the Anthropocene is a project by Mexican artist Julian Bonequi that is inspired by radio drama and sci-fi movies. The work imagines a series of one-on-one encounters between ordinary people and mysterious visitors. Mutants, composite human-robot-animals, aliens… these visitors are met with aggression, incredulity, shock and disbelief as they repeatedly paint grim pictures of the future of humanity. The diverse conversations, animated with narration, incidental sounds and specially composed musical extracts, will be accompanied by Bonequi’s own 3D animation, appearing intermittently during the performance. Expanding the narrative with non-realistic models and non figurative but associative aesthetics, Bonequi aims to create snapshots of imaginary characters and scenarios that activate our frustration towards our global inaction and fear of its repercussions. Juror Ole Frahm comments: “Julian Bonequi’s Death of the Anthropcene starts from one of the most disturbing moments in radio’s history, Orson Wells famous radio drama War of the Worlds, which aired life on Hallowe’en in 1938. Bonequi is less interested in the myth about this broadcast and the panic that it caused (or what the media made out of some reactions), but more in the broadcasted text of Wells’ adaption. While in War of the Worlds the aliens are hostile, do not talk and destroy all that is living, Bonequi’s multi-layered, humourous and strange adaption reminds us of the fact that Wells’s fantasy is not fiction anymore. I am looking forward to a disturbing performance.”

CTM 2017, designed by Vojd. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.
CTM 2017, designed by Vojd. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.

Research Networking Day

The Research Networking Day provides a platform to exchange ideas and experiences for students and researchers from different European graduate and postgraduate programmes traversing the fields of audio, arts, media, design and related theoretical disciplines. A yearly initiative co-organised with Humboldt University’s Department of Musicology, the RND sought submissions from students, junior researchers and persons pursuing higher levels of research and studies to present projects and findings connected to the CTM 2017 Fear Anger Love Theme. The selected candidates will give short presentations within different modules, linked by discussion rounds and completed by a closing discussion at the end of the day.

Primitives is a 10-minute video installation by Alan Warburton on display at HAU2 during the festival week. It explores the intersection of entertainment and science using cutting-edge CGI “crowd simulation” software. This technology is normally used in Hollywood blockbuster films to fill out cities, stadiums and battlefields and also by researchers, architects, scientists and engineers working in crisis mapping, city planning and events management. His AV project explores this simulation software to “liberate the digital crowd” and allow it to live and explore more experimental parameters. The project was developed together with the dancer Anna Kravchenko at humainTrophumain in Montpellier, after winning an open call for works from the European Network for Contemporary Creation (ENCAC). Kravchenko’s movements were captured by Microsoft Kinect, and this data was in turn fused with the crowd simulation software Golaem Crowd. In Warburton’s own words, “this experimental project takes place at a time when the uses of artificial intelligence, chatbots, supercomputers and deep learning algorithms are constantly called into question. These entities are not human, but they are designed by humans to give the impression of humanity. When humanity is encoded as a set of parameters, we are forced to question the representational power of AI software, and in project such as this, imagine what these primitive beings could one day become.”

Lexachast, a collaboration between PAN label founder Bill Kouligas, futuristic sound design duo Amnesia Scanner and Dutch designer Harm van den Dorpel, will appear two evenings in a row for the CTM/transmediale collaborative performances at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The project, which started as a website and was subsequently expanded into a live audiovisual performance, combines van den Dorpel’s generative, live-streaming visuals with mangled, dystopian music by Bill Kouligas and Amnesia Scanner. The visuals use algorithms to filter NSFW content from across the widest reaches of the internet: “wading birds, lads in Less Than Jake t-shirts”…and “become terrifying in the dislocated meaninglessness” (The Guardian). The images are selected randomly and appear as surprises to even the performers, thus referencing our culpability and vulnerability at the feet of the internet’s all-encompassing, hyper-real overkill of material and instilling a sense of the paranoia and fear that come as repercussions of agency and exposure. The music further accentuates the anxiety that is the very breath of the internet’s post-truthisms, doing its part to sonically evoke ‘fictional’ alternatives to an already slippery reality. The 15-minute track opens with contorted vocal rubble from Amnesia Scanner’s savvy, symbol-laden spoken word collage, When Angels Rig Hook, and continues with dramatic sound design wrath in hi-def that re-exposes Kouligas’s taste for sculptural, malleable and immersive aural experiences. Tiny Mixtapes writes, “repetitive and meditative yet fueled by our times’ cybernetic zeitgeist and desire for severity,”…”the apparatus devastates enough to teleologically pull the piece toward negative implosion or illumination, a momentum nipped off suddenly during its final, ‘Ligeti-trance’ climax…to use DeForrest Brown Jr.’s algorithm: ‘chatter as shroud + anxiety amid receding horizon = negative potential.'”

Harm Van den Dorpel’s body of work at large, which encompasses “algorithmic studios” or websites and multimedia pieces, is concerned with investigating the power of pre-programmed processes to sort through and analyze digital archives and take initiative in decision making. The creations that result are fused with equal parts human and machine influence.

Vorspiel 2017: Citywide Partner Programme at 45 spaces x 45 days

Now in its fifth year, the city-wide Vorspiel programme unites over 45 Berlin-based initiatives and venues in a programme featuring exhibition openings, performances, interventions, artist talks, and special events. An initiative piloted in 2010, each year’s Vorspiel series invites participating partners to develop programmes reflecting on CTM and transmediale festival themes. The 2017 festival themes Fear Anger Love (CTM) and ever elusive (transmediale) were announced in the fall of 2016. In order to commonly create and present a distributed program of events by the various initiatives that are working in the field of digital art and culture as well as experimental sound and music, a city-wide call for participants was announced in autumn 2016, resulting in more than 45 successful participants that will offer a diverse range of programming in January and February. The Vorspiel programme will take place ahead of CTM and transmediale festivals and continue over 6 weeks.

Actress, 2015. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.
Actress, 2015. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.

SHAPE X CTM 2017: 48 artists x 16 organisations x 3 years

A 3-year initiative co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, the SHAPE platform reunites 16 European non-profit organisations active within the ICAS – International Cities of Advanced Sound network to create a platform that aims to support, promote and exchange innovative and aspiring emergent musicians and interdisciplinary artists with an interest in sound. The organisations support a total of 144 artists over a three-year period that began in 2015.

SHAPE presents its third year at CTM 2017 with a Meet and Greet at the Projektraum of the Kunstquartier Bethanien. All interested artists, professionals, and the general public are welcome to come meet SHAPE coordinators. A few days later, the Network Speed Dating event assembles a selection of SHAPE platform organisers alongside curators and organisers from other events and networks, to meet in short, one-on-one sessions with pre-registered participants. This is a great chance to present your work and to find out more about the diverse festivals and events that collaborate to make SHAPE happen!

Public sessions at the MusicMakers Hacklab round out the SHAPE platform’s involvement in the CTM 2017 Discourse programme. CTM 2017 will also feature performances by a wealth of different SHAPE-supported artists over its ten-day schedule of events: Norwegian Coméme family member Charlotte Bendiks, fellow Norwegian and friend Boska, the Gobstopper Records founder and instrumental grime zealot Miles Mitchell or Mr. Mitch, Dutch composer/performer Thomas Ankersmit, Austrian composer and sound performer Stefan Fraunberger, Norwegian vocalist Stine Janvin Motland, futurist duo Amnesia Scanner, who’ve helped provide music for the project Lexachast; the “military fluxus” duo N.M.O.; the electronic/psychedelic folk project Stara Rzeka; Belgian sci-fi mistress Sky H1, and Swedish Staycore darling Toxe.

NON Worldwide: Special commission

Co-produced with HAU Hebbel am Ufer, this special three-night performance event titled The Great Disappointment is the work of six members of the NON Worldwide initiative with the help of choreographer Ligia Lewis. Founded by Chino AmobiNkisi, and Angel-Ho, the NON collective, whose multifaceted, holistic campaign of critique has quickly achieved widespread recognition over its two years of existence, groups together artists and producers from Africa and the international African diaspora into an independent digital nation state. It de- and re-territorialises club music as vessels through which to confront head-on colonial heritages and the ensuing “visible and invisible structures that create binaries in society and… distribute power.” In addition to the music it distributes, NON spreads its directed political mission via a battalion of art forms – graphic design, video, visuals, fashion – that facilitate an immediate, unambiguous process of identification and help to create a alternative public space that is as specific as it is large-scale.

As a group of people sharing a common struggle with the daily aftermath of colonialism and the pervasive reach of marginalisation, the project of NON is a call to arms, and as such, its propaganda is urgent, aggressive, even militaristic in concept. Yet for its members, this attitude is only a part of what is ultimately a process of restoration and reinvigoration. NON’s showcase at CTM 2017 will provide an opportunity to present some of the initiative’s protagonists, including Dedekind CutEmbaci and DJ Lady Lane, alongside its founders in person (non-digitally) and using its full array of identifiers and exponents. The show employs nationalist rhetoric and celebrates the glory of the NON State through a vacillation between traditions. Club music will consistently interrupt the scripted performance.

Berlin Voguing Out, 2013. Photograph by Homard Payette. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.
Berlin Voguing Out, 2013. Photograph by Homard Payette. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.

Thomas Ankersmit’s Infra

Dutch composer/performer Thomas Ankersmit will return to CTM to present his new multi-layered composition Infra. The work, which employs both a computer and modular synthesizer explores the artistic, musical, and perceptual potential of infrasound, which is the pitch/frequency region around and below the lower threshold of the human hearing range. Infrasound’s impact is gargantuan but its presence is covert, often only traceable by virtue of its ramifications on objects and in bodies. It has the power to make massive buildings vibrate and can have profound effects on human perception; listeners may experience it as an intense physical pressure or a ghost-like “trembling” in the air around them. It can trigger strong emotional reactions, from unease and angst to awe and even spiritual catharsis. The history of speculation into the special powers and military potential of this mysterious sonic force is long-standing. Infrasound is associated with thunder and, accordingly, with the extra-human and the god-like. It possesses equal parts destructive and restorative potential.

Thomas Ankersmit will also make use of other auditory phenomena, such as in-ear tones, that likewise demonstrate the ability of sound to have a physical, uncontrollable impact on human perception and to induce questions about the strictness of the boundaries between hallucination and reality. As such, it crosses into the arena of politics both as a metaphor (the powerlessness of individuals in the face of larger structures and movements) and as a device (sonic warfare). Infra illustrates the ability of sound at its most esoteric and mighty to induce both fear (in that it is imperceptible and destructive) and love (in that it is therapeutic, humbling, and perspective-granting).

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

As a member of seminal band Throbbing Gristle, the legendary, transgressive counter-cultural icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge infused the nascent industrial genre with shock tactics, performance art and subversive, hybrid aesthetics. Together with bands / “fellowships” Psychic TV and Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, she also experimented with magic, occultism and religious cultism. In 1993, Genesis P-Orridge began a lifelong project of becoming a pandrogynous couple with with Lady Jaye Breyer, aiming to ultimately represent both male and female in each of their bodies. The couple underwent numerous cosmetic, surgical and medical treatments in order to approximate one another and break down gender barriers. Lady Jaye’s untimely death in 2007 triggered a long cycle of grief for her partner. Bight of the Twin, a film created by Hazel Hill McCarthy III, documents McCarthy and P-Orridge’s trip to Benin to explore the origins of the ancient Vodoun (Voodoo) religion. The journey’s focus changed dramatically when, in the process of their research, P-Orridge was “serendipitously initiated” into an ancient ritual known as the “twin fetish.” This practice, which seeks to activate and connect the spirit of a dead twin with the living twin, was applied to P-Orridge’s situation of grief and in turn held the promise of reconnecting her with Breyer’s spirit. The experience was a profoundly emotional one for P-Orridge, documented in the film as a “path both brutal and loving” and a battle with “the hardship, grief and pitfalls of devoting one’s life to art and love in such a drastic way.” As McCarthy observes, the project, while seeking to publicly demystify and explain voodoo practices, is simultaneously an act of voodoo in itself in the sense that it is “an object activated by creation.” McCarthy will be at CTM 2017 to present her film in person and for a discussion with P-Orridge. On the same evening, Genesis P-Orridge will give a concert together with Aaron Dilloway from the trip metal band Wolf Eyes.

CTM 2017 x RBMA

CTM joins forces with Red Bull Music Academy to close its 18th edition on sonically divergent notes. For a third year in a row, the two partners have collaboratively assembled two back-to-back events: 5.2. / 20:00 / Heimathafen Neukölln: The Bug vs Dylan Carlson of Earth [UK/US], Stara Rzeka [PL] / 5.2. / 22:00 / SchwuZ: MikeQ [US], Berlin Voguing Out [INT], Nils Bech [NO], Toxe [SE], Negroma [BR/DE], Jan Paul Anders [DE], Marie Davidson [CA], Ziúr [DE], Alis [DE], Jackie [DE]

The latest project by Kevin Martin aka The Bug, whose appearance at CTM 2015 left a speechless, shell-shocked Berghain audience in its wake, is a collaborative face-off with Dylan Carlson of the legendary Seattle drone metal band Earth. These two sonic maximalists will engage in an aptly-matched, epic musical battle between subterranean guitar drones and structure-rattling electronics. While Martin’s work in dub, industrial hip hop and dancehall engages with the politics of contemporary urban landscapes, Carlson’s artistic trajectory flows through dark Americana.

Opening for The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson of Earth will be Polish guitarist and composer Jakub Ziołek (of T’ien Lai), whose one-man project Stara Rzeka (“Old River”) is similarly imaginative in its references to the dark underbelly of cultural heritage. Named after a small village in the heart of Poland’s beautiful Tuchola Forest region, the project infuses black metal with krautrock and psychedelic folk to reflect on the historical and contemporary relationship between human civilisation and nature — a relationship defined by both joy and profound loss.

A spirited afterparty at the multi-room club and community center SchwuZ, which since its establishment in 1977 has been an indispensable resource in Berlin’s gay and queer scenes, will spotlight a range of voices to celebrate the diversity and unity that has shaped the very foundations of club culture. MikeQ, a hero in the long-standing east coast USA ballroom/vogue-house scene, is an active DJ and head of the collective Qween Beat. He will be joined by dancers from Berlin Voguing Out, an initiative founded in 2011 by Georgina Leo Melody and Mic Oala that organizes vogue balls, classes, lectures, and an annual festival.

Gothenberg’s Toxe, a 2015 RBMA participant and one of the most celebrated members of the forward-looking Staycore label, will dish out a serving of colourful, plastic nihilism and techy, reference-loaded severity. Skilfully toying with the codes of current bass music and layering sonic emotion with ultra-percussive breaks, Berlin-based Jackie will present her unique vision with a genre-defying DJ set of twisted HD groove. DFA-signee and ex- opera singer Nils Bech, who is equal parts avant-garde performance artist and dancefloor songwriter, will present his romantic, sweet-toothed pop songs. Presenting a new piece developed for the occasion, Berlin-based Brazilian artist Negroma proposes music as an extension of their performative body. 2016 RBMA Montreal participant Marie Davidson will present the heavy-lidded coldwave, synthpop and EBM that have made her one of the year’s buzzed-about emerging talents. DJ, producer, and Peaches collaborator Ziúr combines challenging sonic textures and brainy beats for a foggy, noisy, entrancing do-si-do. Kicking off the night, RBMA alumnus Alis mixes the abstract, noisey end of contemporary club with new dancefloor mutations. Berlin fixture Jan Paul Anders will provide a soft landing at the end of 10 long festival days with a vigorous house set.

CTM will also team up with Red Bull Studios Berlin to present several daytime events with a variety of partners. On February 1st, CTM and ingenious Berlin-based music hardware and software company Ableton will collectively host a masterclass with composer, sound designer and percussionist Dennis DeSantis, who is Head of Documentation at the company and wrote the popular book Making Music: Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers. In this talk, which is open to beginners and pros alike, DeSantis will explore different types of creative strategies for getting started, making progress, and (most importantly) getting music finished. On February 2nd and 3rd,  celebrated Berlin based music hardware/software company Native Instruments, will offer the two -day “Native Sessions.” This event picks up from the “Komplete Sketches” project in which Native Instruments challenge a handful of Berlin-based producers, CTM alumni, and CTM 2017 artists to create a musical sketch using effects and instruments exclusively from the Native Instrument “Komplete 11” software. The producers will present their work and offer sound design masterclasses. The event will be expanded via roundtable discussions about the role of cutting-edge sound design in giving voice to emotions and developing artistic identity. The sketches will be played at a listening station in Kunstquartier Bethanien throughout the festival. On Saturday, February 4th, CTM and RBMA present special sessions with Earth’s Dylan Carlson and with MikeQ at Red Bull Studios Berlin.

CTM 2017 e-flyer, designed by Vojd. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.
CTM 2017 e-flyer, designed by Vojd. Used here by kind permission from CTM Festival. All rights reserved.

The music programme at CTM 2017

CTM 2017 welcomes the legendary, transgressive counter-cultural icon Genesis Breyer P-Orridge for a concert and film screening celebrating her rich history as a radical in both music and identity/gender politics. P-Orridge will perform together with former Wolf Eyes member and adventurous solo noise artist Aaron Dilloway. Director Hazel Hill McCarthy III will also be present for the screening of Bight of the Twin, a film created together with Genesis that follows what became an emotional search for Lady Jaye Breyer, P-Orridge’s deceased life partner. During a journey to Benin to explore the origins of Vodoun (Voodoo), P-Orridge was “serendipitously initiated” into an ancient ritual known as the “twin fetish,” a practice that held the promise of reconnecting her with Breyer’s spirit.

The globally distributed collective NON Worldwide will appear with six of its members – Chino Amobi, Nkisi, Angel Ho, Dedekind Cut, Embaci, and DJ Lady Lane – for a performance event created together with choreographer Ligia Lewis. NON achieved rapid success in its short two years of existence due to its multifaceted campaign of critique through genre bending musical explorations that twist and re-imagine pop culture and its derivatives. Comprised of artists and producers from Africa and the African diaspora, NON and its collaborators are committed to fucking with the powers that be through sound and live performance. Somewhere between variety show and spectacular abstraction, the vision of NON will meet the physical duress of Lewis’ powerful and energetic choreography in a hybrid live event co-produced with longtime CTM partner, HAU Hebbel am Ufer.

CTM will team up with the Tehran-based SET Festival to present works at the forefront of the Iranian experimental electronic music scene. In a new commission, Ata ‘Sote’ Ebtekar will collaborate with celebrated audiovisual composer Tarik Barri and performers Arash Bolouri and Behrouz Pashaei on a project merging electronics with traditional acoustic instruments for a ‘Persian techno apocalypse.” Two additional acts, Siavash Amini and 9T Antiope, will likewise help to represent a nascent culture of sonic experimentation burgeoning in Tehran. This recent upsurge of creative activity is broadly a result of Iranian citizens’ ingenuity and resourcefulness in making the most of the piecemeal reform occurring over the past several years alongside internet-based research and grassroots artistic exertions. The programme is a collaboration with Goethe Institut, and contributes to the cultural programme complementing the exhibition Die Teheran Sammlung (The Tehran Collection), which is presented at Gemäldegalerie Berlin from December 4, 2016 – March 5, 2017.

NYC-born individualist and trailblazer Princess Nokia fuses music styles of diverse diasporas and reaches out through fresh, brassy lyrics to fringe characters and category hybrids across the world: “banjee girls in Harlem, teen brides in the Middle East, gay boys in East Asia. Labels no longer matter.” Another figure representing the increasing prominence of iconoclastic female artists in underground hip hop is Vancouver native Tommy Genesis. Signed to Father’s Awful Records for her 2015 debut LP, Genesis delights in weaving provocative lyrics around straightforward taste for sadomasochism and lusty memories, contrasting these with more contemplative, suggestive videos. A quietly rising voice catering to deep-web Soundcloud nerds around the globe, she drowns her lyrics in sleek rhythms reminiscent of Future or Young Thug.

Philadelphia Afrofuturist Moor Mother, who attests that “sci-fi is reality,” will contribute the sonic activism she has described as “project-housing bop,” “slaveship punk,” and “witch rap.” Her music is a vessel for addressing the history of struggle and loss and the necessity of rebellion and endurance in the American black community.

Tanya Tagaq is a Canadian Inuk throat singer from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. Through guttural groans, colossal breathing, and deeply spiritualistic performances, she translates ancient vocal traditions into a postmodern language. She approaches politics as directly as she does sound, understanding art as a weapon with which to fight for women’s and indigenous rights. Her appearance will commemorate the October 2016 release of her album, Retribution.

Actress has always made it his business to expose the sensitive nerve endings of London rave culture. Years of experimentation and refinement have earned him a sound that lives and revels in the emotional haze between the strict grid lines of techno and 2-step.

Shape platform supported artist Thomas Ankersmit, who is devoted to music at its most intrusive and gargantuan, will present his new multi-layered composition, Infra, at Berghain. The work explores the artistic, musical, and perceptual potential of infrasound, triggering strong emotional reactions from unease and angst to awe and even spiritual catharsis.

Radical prophet of anti-music Romain Perrot aka Vomir is known for his uncompromising “harsh noise walls.” For him, static sound at the limits of listenability is an opportunity for both isolation and immersion, embodying an existential nihilism and the wish to withdraw from society at large.

Known for her restless, uneasy industrial pop, Gazelle Twin will return to CTM 2017 to present her latest work, Kingdom Come. The audiovisual performance, created together with filmmakers Chris Turner and Tash Tung, is inspired by J.G. Ballard’s final novel of the same name and explores contemporary suburban consumerism, terrorism and the rise of the political far right across Europe.

Fast-forwarding into future sci-fi scenarios, Mexican artist Julian Bonequi’s commissioned work, The Death of the Anthropocene, imagines a series of one-on-one encounters between ordinary people and mysterious visitors – mutants, composite human-robot-animals, aliens… – painting humorous yet grim pictures of the future of humanity. Bonequi is one of two winners of the CTM 2017 Radio Lab, which with broadcasters Deutschlandradio Kultur and ORF as well as the SoCCoS sound art network supports works that pair the artistic possibilities of radio with the reaches of live performance or installation. In Happy New Fear, the second selected work, Rima Najdi aims to explore an environment of anxiety and control via a narrative built around Madame Bomba, a character first created in 2014 when Najdi wore a fake cartoon TNT bomb around her chest while roaming the streets of her hometown Beirut. For this project she will collaborate with musician Kathy Alberici (of Drum Eyes fame) and visual artist Ana Nieves Moya.

CTM alumnus Robert Henke, whose accomplishments both as a producer and an engineer have irreversibly shaped the international electronic music landscape, will showcase VLSI, his newest album as Monolake, in a special surround-sound Berghain appearance.

Another instrument builder, Enrique Tomás, will develop his Embodied Gestures work, commissioned via the ENCAC audiovisual network, to find out: “how can we encode our musical intentions within digital instruments?” Tomás considers musical sensibility, empathy and emotional intensity as triggers of creative processes and musical experience.

Recent Warp Records signee Lorenzo Senni appear in support of his new EP, Persona. With a specially-designed live show he continues his journey in deconstructions of 90s hard trance, this time revolving around his self-described personal experience of “Rave Voyeurism” as the only sober SXE head amongst gabber and hardcore-loving best friends during his formative years in Rimini. The paradoxical nature of this disciplined restraint and moderated ecstasy is the core of Persona.

NYC’s power electronics proponent Pharmakon presents new material in a programme exploring challenging and confrontational dealings in sound together with Thomas Ankersmit, Vomir, and noise rock psychedelia duo Gum Takes Tooth. Just as for Vomir, music for Pharmakon is a fundamental component in a process-based, rageful face-off with contemporary society. Equally abrasive, Chinese solo artist Pan Daijing appears on another evening, traversing a body- and mind-consuming sonic force that has, like anger, brought her up and out of uncomfortable situations, liberated her from conservatism and granted her room to breathe and exist on her own terms.

Beastly metal force Ex Eye regroups four skilled artists playing music of crushing percussion, bleak synths and adrenaline-fuelled destruction. Comprised of saxophonist and Arcade Fire collaborator Colin Stetson, multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, drummer Greg Fox (Liturgy, Ben Frost) and The Body guitarist Toby Summerfield, this explosive quartet skillfully loses itself in ecstatic abandon. SHAPE-supported artist Stefan Fraunberger will open with a project exploring the “barrier between the physical and spiritual worlds” with a booming doom of dulcimers and electronics that linger in the slowly decaying sonics of the space.

Outspoken feminist artist Jenny Hval will make an appearance in the wake of a sobering experience of touring in the USA during the election. Her CTM performance created together with experimental duo Skrap will expand from her recent album, Blood Bitch, to respond to the prevalence of impulsive, hype-fed and emotion-driven politics there and elsewhere. Stine Janvin Motland will open the evening with the project, Fake Synthetic Music, in which she uses her voice to imitate multi-layered, melodic synthesizer sequences of consistent, unwavering intensity.

Lexachast, a collaboration between PAN label founder Bill Kouligas, futuristic sound design duo Amnesia Scanner, and artist Harm van den Dorpel, will connect transmediale and CTM in a joint evening at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The mangled, dystopian soundtrack revolves around van den Dorpel’s generative, live-streaming visuals, based on algorithms to filter random, NSFW content from across the widest reaches of the internet. Potentially provocative, these visuals appear as surprises to even the performers, referencing our culpability and vulnerability at the feet of the internet’s torrential overkill of material.

Nora Turato similarly drowns the ears with her stream-of-consciousness “verbal vomit.” Her performances confront and engage the audience in digesting a wide range of issues haunting modern, mediatized life.

Composer and sound artist SØS Gunver Ryberg is widely admired for infusing raw noise and meticulously textured field recordings with relentless, high-octane kick drums and other techno vocabulary in order to unleash a sonic storm. She will appear the same night as Taiwanese-born Shanghai resident Tzusing, who specializes in savage, gritty industrial techno à la L.I.E.S, Discwoman co-founder Umfang, analogue techno experimenter, Surgeon collaborator and Lady Gaga muse and costume designer Lady Starlight, Greenland-born cosmic dance proponent Courtesy, and Karima’s classic house infusions.

With a high-energy set involving military fluxus fitness trickery and strict sound and light patterns, N.M.O. will premiere Deutsch Am Fuß (DAF), a band-inside-a-band project blending unheard transatlantic rhythmic club interludes with a retro-esque FRG flavour. Their live “happenings” shed light on the performativity of dance music and the disparity between human and digital rhythm generators.

Istanbul’s veteran DJ and expert crate-digger Bariş K lays it on thick and slow with Middle-Eastern psychedelia and resolute cosmic disco. On top of a solo DJ set, he will also engulf listeners in the hypnotic powers of his duo insanlar with saz player and vocalist Cem Yildiz, fusing improvised psychedelic Middle-Eastern folk elements with teasingly heavy basslines.

CTM drops into bass-heavy waters with Yally, the new project developed by Blackest Ever Black duo Raime in order to “explore bass futures indiscriminately,” synthesizes and builds upon 2-step, grime, and garage legacies. The club is central to this exploration, but the mind is an equal partner, offering pathways that connect the two.

Tastemaker, reputed streetwear designer and creative director for controversial persona Kanye West, Bromance label co-founder Virgil Abloh will appear for a special DJ set. Hyped label/collectives Bala Club and Staycore meet via Endgame, who exposes sensitive nerve endings through anglo reimaginings of reggaeton, future grime and Brazilian funk, Mechatok, who juggles club music, melodic pieces and rap, and mobilegirl’s remixes of r&b divas such as J-Lo and TLC in a spectrum between 4/4 house and trance.

Diving even further into future bass hybrids are DJ, producer and GHE20GOTH1K co-founder LSDXOXO, and two Planet Mu signees, UK instrumental grime zealot Mr. Mitch and Turkish trap producer Sami Baha. Israeli-born Miss Red, who made waves with her first Murder mixtape in 2015 with production by Andy Stott, Mumdance, Stereotyp, Mark Pritchard and Evian Christ alongside The Bug, brings her distorted, futuristic re-imaginings of dancehall and bashment.

Muqata’a (aka Boikutt), one of the most prevalent rappers on the Palestinian hip-hop scene, will join Princess Nokia and Tommy Genesis at Yaam for an MPC-heavy set supporting prolific and thought-provoking rhymes that highlights the defiance of enslaving ideologies and belief systems. Muquata’a is one of the original members of Ramallah Underground, a group created out of a need to “give voice to a generation of Palestinians and Arabs who face a turbulent and uncertain political landscape.”

Anchored by the CTM 2017 exhibition Critical Constellations of the Audio-Machine in Mexico that examines the history and current status of sound art and electronic music in Mexico, the festival’s Mexico focus is expanded with divergent voices in the music programme. Planned in collaboration with exhibition curator Carlos Prieto Acevedo, the first of two nights at HAU2 will feature a special version of Guillermo Galindo’s Sonic Borders II, a multimedia project with live electronics and hybrid instruments created from objects lost by some of the countless persons attempting to cross the Mexican-US border. Using a repertoire of field recordings, radio, and cassette devices, Angelica Castelló journeys through the enigmatic land of lost memories, death and fragility of traumatic encounters. Transforming a piece by Mexican composer Conlon Nancarrow, mezzo soprano Loré Lixenberg creates a multichannel vocal tour de force from an original written for mechanical pianola. Feedback, hidden resonances, the dramaturgy of vocal gestures and customised microphone devices are used by Carmina Escobar in an intimate operatic story. Trained in a broad range of Mexican national folkloric instruments, Roberto Morales-Manzaneres metamorphosizes inspirations from nature, Mexican literature, algorithmic composition and real-time gesture interaction into a surround-sound performance with Mayan harp, Wii controllers, and electronics.

The second evening belongs to Liminar, Mexico’s foremost ensemble for contemporary music, which will premiere a new work by Mexican composer Carlos Sandoval. Mexican National Anthem (as I recall it from my childhood) will fuse the sounds and images from Sandoval`s own video work with a score performed by Liminar and a solo soprano. Ensemble member José Manuel Alcántara will perform solo, highlighting a series of electroacoustic compositions by early Mexican experimenters. Liminar will also appear in a special partner programme at Radialsystem in the first of four evenings conceptualised and produced by Ensemble KNM Berlin. The series, titled Die Welt nach Tiepolo, presents the four parts of Hughes Dufourt’s epochal d’après Tiepolo composition cycle, beginning with the L’Amerique d’après Tiepolo movement. Included in the first event are works by American composers Julián Carillo, Juan Felipe Waller and James Tenney.

( SIC ), an improvisation project by Julian Bonequi and Rodrigo Ambriz, hybridizes savage percussion and extreme vocals into spasmic states and possessive sensations. It ritualistically detonates the primitive and the ecstatic, intuition and self-induced alienation, the bold and the subtle through a series of short, explosive vignettes. NAAFI affiliate Siete Catorce warps memories of all-night, cumbia-infused family birthday and quinceañera parties with hypnotising sadness, rage and foreboding (Thump). Both he and (sic) are presented with MUTEK.MX.

Starting with clips from the film Northern Disco Lights and a discussion with director Ben Davis and veteran producer Bjørn Torske, CTM 2017 will highlight the Norwegian Space Disco scene. This unlikely, sparkling cocktail of spacious, blissful sounds was precipitated by a small but tightly knit community of artists and friends seeking refuge in sonic love against often isolating, harsh conditions near the Polar Circle. Artists featured in the film, such as Diskjokke and Bjørn Toske, resonate at the festival’s opening club night alongside next-generation producers: SHAPE-supported Boska and Charlotte Bendiks both present new live sets. The showcase also extends to like-minded minds Front de Cadeaux, a duo cleverly referencing pioneer Belgian EBM group Front 242 that proposes its own brand of Supreme Rallentato, a fucked-up slo-mo italo, acid, disco, and house hybrid. Berlin-based Korean DJ Peggy Gou brings a local touch to the evening with her vigorous mix of house.

Alan Warburton’s Primitives installation will be on display during the festival week, exploring the intersection of entertainment and science using cutting-edge CGI “crowd simulation” software. This technology is normally used in Hollywood blockbuster films to fill out cities, stadiums and battlefields and also by researchers and engineers working in crisis mapping, city planning and events management. His AV project explores this simulation software to “liberate the digital crowd” and allow it to live and explore more experimental parameters.

Ganzfeld (trumpet player and sound artist Liz Albee and guitarist and instrument builder Sukandar Kartadinata) will present their Guerilla Spatialization Unit at surprise points during CTM 2017. Their interventions will feature hacked multi-channel trumpet and bass guitar in an aim to activate the unique resonant surfaces of different makeshift performance spaces: windows, doors, stairs, walls, chairs, vans, buses, boxes, insides, outsides, ups and downs.

Among the CTM 2017 highlights is a double-bill at the soon to reopen Festsaal Kreuzberg. Berlin residents and fans of edgy music ranging from indie to hip hop to electronic fondly remember the former Turkish wedding hall turned concert space that hosted many a memorable event before it was irreparably damaged by an electrical fire in Summer 2013. After several years of searching for a new location, Festsaal Kreuzberg will proudly reopen at a venue initiated by the late White Trash, near clubs such as Arena, Chalet and Club der Visionäre. On Saturday 4 February, Elysia Crampton will take the stage at the new venue, in a programme also featuring King Britt. A self-described “Trans-Evangelist,” Bolivian-American Crampton explores Latinx culture, queer identity and its historic roots, subversion of macho cultural tropes and South American spirituality. Her second album, Elysia Crampton Presents: Demon City was released this summer and included collaborations with Rabit, Why Be, Lexxi and Chino Amobi. Philadelphia selector and futurist King Britt will present a live performance in the vein of SubServe and Protect: A Sonic Response or Trigger, both past efforts that represent Britt’s answers to corrupt police incidents in the U.S. Britt’s soundtracks include pitched-down dispatch and video dialogue from police stops that involved victims such as Sandra Bland and Michael Brown. Pulsating, climax-less soundscapes remove such dialogues from their immediate, sensationalised contexts, all the while maintaining the tension of latent and full-out violence, channelling a complex web of simmering emotions.

CTM’s programme at Prince Charles, which includes live sets from Sami Baha and Mr. Mitch, is rounded out with Chicago’s Traxman, one of the longest-serving producers working in footwork, who will let loose a thundering techno set. Berlin DJ, Trade resident and Sister network affiliate Linnéa’s energizing, au-courant sets span glossy trap, futuristic grime, R&B, neo-reggaeton and other hybrid styles that challenge the Euro step/touch hegemony. Previously announced as part of the NON Worldwide showcase, DJ Lady Lane will spin “everything you can bounce, shake or sway to.”

Romanian DJ and artistic force in Bucharest’s scene, Dragoș Rusu will bring his eclectic, psychedelic sound to open up one of YAAM’s floors, shared with Bariș K’s previously-announced duo İnsanlar, and İpek İpekçioğlu, a longstanding force on both Berlin and Istanbul scenes who proudly carries the title of “MC of cross-cultural understanding” (TAZ). On the neighbouring floor, Berlin-via-Tokyo producer Shins-K will dish out spliced-up, dubstatic bass to close a whirlwind club night of forceful performances from the likes of Miss Red, Princess Nokia and Tommy Genesis. Phat hip hop sounds from Berlin DJ crew Bass Gang, represented by crew members Minoto, Ostblokkk, Gofi, J.Cloud, and Tuan:Ahn, take over YAAM’s third floor, pointing to the recent and ongoing diversification of the city’s club sounds.

CTM’s Berghain programme is rounded out with surprise guest DJ Stingray, the veteran Detroit techno producer whose career has spanned over 20 years. Initially creating his Urban Tribe alias in the 90s while working with Carl Craig, Anthony Shakir and Kenny Dixon Jr., Stingray first donned his trademark balaclava while touring with Drexciya, to hide his identity on stage. SHAPE platform supported Sky H1, whose lush, vaporous constructions invoke a struggle between melancholy and joy, will perform live. The Belgian producer rapidly gained praise for her 2016 debut on Bill Kouligas and Visionist’s PAN x Codes imprint. London-based club and radio DJ DEBONAIR brings her command of post-punk, coldwave, EBM, techno, italo-disco and classic house to a separate evening. DJ Luki is a musician who explores the deeper realms of techno. Confined to a wheelchair and with a limited range of movements and dexterity, Luki uses a DJ-instrument specially developed by Creme Organization affiliate Kassen and Moos at Amsterdam-based studio STEIM with the help of artist-developer Marije Baalman. Together the group address technology’s design norms, and its inherent limits for nonstandard users. Kassen will provide DJ support for the performance.

Uta, a member of Berlin’s Through my Speakers collective that also co-runs UK-influenced bass music party series “Rec Room,” opens up the MusicMakers Hacklab opening night within CTM’s exhibition opening at Kunstquartier Bethanien.

 

– All content provided here courtesy of CTM Festival Berlin 2017. All rights reserved.

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