Outside the Dream Syndicate is the legendary collaboration between avant-garde icon Tony Conrad and German group Faust, a band recognised as one of the leading pioneers of Krautrock. Conceived in 1973 their seminal LP did as much as any other musical item in setting the parameters for minimalist and drone music in the latter part of the 20th century. Conrad articulated the Big Bang of „minimalism“ and played a pivotal role in the formation of the Velvet Underground. He continues to exert a primal influence over succeeding generations with his ecstatic oscillations and hypnotic drones. He plays at Berlin Atonal his first on-stage reunion with Faust in over 20 years, with thunderous drums adjoining violin, chest-rattling low frequencies fuse to create a cosmic blend of krautrock and drone.
SUMS is a new collaboration between Kangding Ray, an electronic musician whose productions have appeared mainly on the raster-noton and Stroboscopic Artefacts labels, and Barry Burns, multi-instrumentalist and composer in the Scottish band Mogwai. On the one hand this collaboration evidences the growing influence of electronic music on Mogwai (particularly on their last album “Rave Tapes”), and on the other, the ongoing presence of rock (usually associated with a prefix, whether it’s post-, punk-, or art-) in Kangding Ray’s music. The specially commissioned project will involve the two genre-leading artists on a range of electronic and amplified instruments, as well as additional musicians, to create a soundscape that blends elements of both their musical legacies.
Shackleton will be bringing his Powerplant project to Berlin Atonal for its debut after recruiting and writing for a group of top-drawer musicians playing instruments ranging from huge gong drums to delicate xylophones. Having built a „system“ that allows for both free, open-ended playing and also strictly ordered adherence to composition, the principles of the music go from extremely tight percussive and melodic workouts governed by strictly ordered rules through to controlled freakout pieces and – at the other extreme – has elements of free improvisation. Not surprisingly due to the method of composing and Shackleton’s singular musical outlook, the general aesthetic and effect of the music ends up somewhere between Kosmische, ritual trance and minimalism which doesn’t provide easy entertainment but has more of a cathartic effect.
Alessandro Cortini is a name widely recognized within the industrial scene, as the live electronics performer in front-leading group Nine Inch Nails. An eclectic catalogue of solo work, as well as his collaborations with NIN’s founder and frontman Trent Reznor and others have solidified Cortini as a constant fixture of the avant-garde music world. At Berlin Atonal 2015 he will present the very first full audio-visual performance of his solo project “Sonno”. Cortini stands justifiably in the linage of magician-technologists like Donald Buchla, Suzanne Ciani, Morton Subotnick and Charles Cohen for his uncanny ability to convey emotional content in relation to synthesized, electronically produced and processed sounds. The new solo project and world premiere performance allows him to expand this sensibility to its fullest extent yet.
Ugandan Methods is a musical partnership that brings together two of the most recognised and creative forces within the electronic scene: Downwards label boss Karl O’Connor and the shadowy industrial world of sonic punisher resident Ancient Methods. Atonal provides the setting for the one of the rare live performances of this collaborative project since its inception in 2009 bringing to the main stage an unrepentant amalgam of spine-curving technoid breakbeats, a collusion of industrial Techno mechanics, stabby war rhythms and seething tribalism.
Clock DVA are one of the now legendary batch of groups associated with the 70s Sheffield industrial music scene and one of the pioneers in developing an electronic, noisy take on the genre. Formed by Adi Newton in 1978 and undergoing various iterations in its long, prolific and varied musical story, Clock DVA has remained committed to an idea of sonic futurism, an investigation of the philosophical implications of musical technologies and, more recently, a yearning for a combined sound and visual experience. Clock DVA are veterans of Berlin Atonal, having played at the 1990 edition of the festival. In 2015 they return with a symbiotic audio-visual show and a line-up consisting of Newton, Tez and Panagiotis Tomaras.
Another special project to be revealed during the festival week is Varg presenting Ivory Towers. This formulation incorporates an distinguished underground lineup with Loke Rahbek (Damien Dubrovnik, Lust For Youth), Ossian Ohlsson (Vit Fana), Frederikke Hoffmeier (Puce Mary) and renowned film score composer Erik Enocksson, under the unorthodox leadership of Jonas Rönnberg (Varg, Ulwhednar, D.Å.R.F.D.H.S). A composition involving electronics, vocals, bass guitar, loops and string synthesizers – all used in various orthodox and unorthodox ways – the project combines disparate elements in the service of Rönnberg’s singular and unexpected musical goal. The performance also includes live video art by Sofia Al Rammal, Frida Sundqvist and Linnea Mesko.
David Borden is one of the foremost exponents of live electronic and minimalist music. He has been active on the new music and contemporary classical scenes for over five decades. He first came to attention as the driving force behind the Mother Mallard Ensemble, the world’s first all synthesizer ensemble. Borden was in close contact with Dr. Robert Moog and was one of the first musicians to use his Minimoog. After recruiting Steve Drews and Linda Fisher to operate additional synthesizers, the group began playing concerts of minimalist music by Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. The Mother Mallard Ensemble is reformed and headed by David Borden for a special retrospective of his work at Berlin Atonal.
Continuum is a new work by Paul Jebanasam featuring visual projections by Dutch artist Tarik Barri. Inspired by the poetics of energy and living matter’s eternal resistance against entropy, the piece explores the compositional space of synthetic audio and visual materials pushed to limits of technological possibilities. The live performance of the work centres around custom software developed by Barri to enable improvised constructions of complex simulated environments. Traditionally the domain of high performance supercomputing, this practice applies physical models to create immersive examinations into the structure of light. Parallel to this process, Jebanasam’s compositions re-imagine the concert space as a vast architectural instrument based on the acoustic designs of church organs and driven by a bold vision for machined music. Berlin Atonal is delighted to present the world premiere of this bold project.
Shed’s inimitable releases on Ostgut Ton (and later 50Weapons) somehow remain connected to the heartbeat of club-focused techno, while at the same time eschewing the straight, stripped back and raw repetitiveness typically associated with the genre. The result was a lauded trio of records – Shedding the Past, The Traveller, The Killer – that have undeniably made their contribution to shaping the future of electronic music. For Berlin Atonal 2015 he has put together a special live A/V show for the main stage.
For more than 20 years, American artist Mike Parker has perfected a unique interpretation of techno music. His abstractions of sound and texture are now instantly recognizable to contemporary audiences. His long running series of 12” records on the Geophone imprint established his sonic persona and other labels took notice; Prologue, Mote- Evolver, Semantica, Time To Express and Spectral Sound, to name a few. Berlin Atonal 2015 sees his first ever audio-visual live performance – this time specifically adapted to the outsized dimensions of the power plant, buzzing vortexes and extraterrestrial howls filling the vast expanse of Atonal.
Powell is a producer and co-founder of Diagonal Records, currently one of the most adventurous labels in club music, drawing from the varied musical resources of post-punk, no wave, EBM and techno. His muscular live show cuts a similar uncompromising path – a violent amalgam of sampled recordings, clipped and treated vocals, overdriven drums and raw synthesised tones.
Peder Mannerfelt’s recent productions under his own name on labels such as We Can Elude Control, Digitalis and Archives Intérieures have safely secured his reputation as one of the most interesting, unusual and capable producers active today. He draws his musical influences from far and wide – stylistically and geographically. His analogue-based live set-up expresses one of the most interesting musical approaches to gain widespread acknowledgement in the electronic music tradition in recent years.
Assisting genocide, they need tragedy, peeled-off faces. The track titles from this Stockholm-based producer say it all. Not only connecting with the musical aspect but also commenting on the philosophic questions around modern industrialization, Lundin Oil is modern industrial music in its purest form. Freely flowing between raw noise, restrained drones and odd rhythmic elements while still maintaining the trademark melancholic Northern Electronics atmosphere, a rare live performance at Berlin Atonal will shed more light in the darkness that is Lundin Oil.
Varg is the alias of ever-prolific Swedish composer Jonas Rönnberg. He joins as part of the Northern Electronics showcase, being the first artist to release on Abdulla Rashim’s label in 2013.
Acronym is firmly a part of the Northern Electronics family. His four releases on the label have helped cement its reputation as a powerful creative force on the more introspective end of the techno spectrum. He joins as part of their showcase at Berlin Atonal 2015.
Danish noise wielder Puce Mary is closely affiliated with the prolific Danish punk and noise label Posh Isolation, but joins Berlin Atonal 2015 as part of Abdulla Rashim’s curated Northern Electronics showcase.
Vit Fana is the goth-industrial project of Ossian Ohlsson. His music has appeared – invariably in cassette-form – on prolific Danish punk and noise label Posh Isolation as well as on Abdulla Rashim’s Northern Electronics, for whom he plays as part of a showcase at Berlin Atonal 2015.
COH (pronounced “Son”) is one of the names bound up with the rise of computer-based music and labels such as raster-noton and Mego. He has previously collaborated with a diverse range of artists from Coil and Cosey Fanni Tutti to Richard Chartier. Tina Frank is a designer, visual artist, and professor at the University of Art and Design, Linz. Together they present a symbiotic live show in which COH’s musical output is converted in real time by hand-controlled analogue video equipment into an organic visual outgrowth of the heard phenomena.
Fis is Oliver Peryman, a recording and performing artist from Sumner, New Zealand. In 2013 Pitchfork described his work as ‚uncovering an altogether new rhythmic grammar‘ while Resident Advisor called him an ‚electronic auteur‘ who sounds like ‚absolutely no one else‘. Fis is a producer who has something important and special to add to the electronic genre. Berlin Atonal 2015 will see a new version of Fis‘ audiovisual project: showcasing a benevolent, hypnotic, elemental union of sound and light.
Ena is an visionary producer based in Tokyo, Japan. He produces music at the very boundaries of early drum & bass and abstract hip hop. He has released work on numerous imprints but is widely recognised for his involvement with Samurai Horo. In his recorded output Ena invariably searches for new sounds and endeavours to develop new rhythmic frontiers. Ena has numerous other (secret) monikers and is in high demand producing music for film and television.
Chra is the alter ego of Viennese author, DJ and presenter Christina Nemec. After a period experimenting with low frequencies and noise effects, Chra started to work on more rhythmic works, using sinewaves processed through a tape recorder and other analogue and digital tools to allude to landscapes, territories, silence and extraordinary and extreme situations. She is also a member of Shampoo Boy and SV Damenkraft and has made performance works with Lydia Lunch. She plays at Berlin Atonal fresh from her 2015 release on Editions Mego.
Osaka based Ryo Murakami entered the world of music at an early age, first by playing piano, and then getting to grips with synthesizers and drum machines. His productions contain alternative dance music and classical contemporary music, a combination of atmospheric ambient, noise and drone. His production history, up until his 2013 album release on his own imprint Depth Of Decay has been varied, from releases on Bug’s Poker Flat and the Dessous label to the more recent releases on German outlets Baud and Styrax. His latest releases (including one on Bedouin Records) sit between drone and musique concrète and have been described as synthetic versions of Sunn O))).
Regis (Karl O’Connor) has been running, with fellow art terrorist Female (Peter Sutton), the influential Downwards label since 1993. Unconventional and single-minded to say the least, he remains one of the more highly regarded creative forces within the British techno/electronic scene.
Skarn is an alias of Italian-born composer and performer Alessandro Cortini. Skarn’s debut release on front line techno-experimentalist Shifted’s Avian label in late 2014 was an outlet for the producer to explore technoid driving soundscapes, precise minimalism and hypnotic drum patterns.
Talker is a Chicago-based duo comprising of Jonathan Krohn (aka Stave) and Karl Meier (aka Sandwell District’s Kalon). Talker first appeared on Downwards‘ 2013 Halha compilation followed by Cut The Weight EP on the label’s subsidiary imprint D/N and a full length 8-track LP Talker on Downwards. The sound of Talker moves from dark, industrial or atmospheric ambient to pounding techno to industrial-infected noise and all in between where gritty distortion and brooding percussion finds its soul in the spirit of Downwards.
Berlin Atonal’s permanent home is an abandoned power plant in central Berlin which has been turned into a darkly majestic industrial complex for the duration of the festival. This multi-leveled, multi-staged cathedral is host to every performance, installation, seminar and aftershow party in the Berlin Atonal program.
Kraftwerk Berlin is found at Köpenicker Strasse 70, in Mitte. The closest subway station (2 minutes walk) to the venue is at U Heinrich-Heine-Str. (U8).