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 these two genre-leading artists on a range of electronic and amplified instruments, as well as drumming wizard Merlin Ettore and contra-bassist Robert Lucaciu, 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.
For their debut collaboration, Alessandro Cortini & Lawrence English create an immersive sound field of dense harmony, swelling from reductive minimialism to tectonic plates of physical distortion. In between these states, emerge currents of tonality and dynamic waves of aural sense making, revealing the duality of ourselves as listeners within music. Like a waking dream, the audience is invited to become submerged in this evolving sonic world, wholly consumed in vibration. As sound pressure mounts our sonic senses give way to a flood of tactile sensation as our bodies begin to sense sound. Our perception distorts and the body emerges from a tacet state to become an active acoustic participant. The body becomes an ear. It’s this transcendence, this holistic aural consumption that Alessandro Cortini & Lawrence English seek to explore for this special performance at Berlin Atonal 2015.
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 sonic punisher 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.
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.
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.
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.
Berlin Atonal is proud to present a commissioned collaboration that unites German synthesiser genius Max Loderbauer and Polish experimentalist Jacek Sienkiewicz. Blending harmonic swells and treated synthesised drones with adroitly weighted melodic passages, this collaboration promises to be a masterclass in expertly crafted ambient music from two of the genre’s leading exponents.
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.
Lustmord is one of the main figures involved in industrial music’s slow but purposeful shift toward pure electronic experimentation and technically masterful sound construction. Encouraged to begin his musical career by members of Throbbing Gristle, Lustmord developed his recording and producing capacities by working as a sound designer, score composer and field recordist on dozens of film soundtracks including The Crow and Underworld. His classic 1990 release Heresy gave birth to the genre known as “Dark Ambient”. His rare live shows are known for a bassy treatment of acoustic phenomena, dark atmospheric swells and overpowering visual accompaniment.
This new collaboration between Ben Frost and MFO, first debuted at Poland’s Unsound Festival in 2014, focuses on Light. Frost’s mandate that it should „feel like being inside a particle accelerator” sits well with MFO (Marcel Weber). MFO’s work is marked by a defined and distinctive aesthetic and his light performances are concerned with memory and perception, identity formation and dissolution – particularly in the context of possible futures and their underlying mythologies.
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.
The Choir of World Cultures was founded in 2007 at the HKW in Berlin and is directed by Barbara Morgenstern and Philipp Neumann. For Berlin Atonal 2015, the choir has developed a spatial sound collage that allows the audience to experience the special features of the powerplant through unamplified sound. Hard clusters meet improvised tonal sequences and spherical chords. The audience members can freely move through the space as they find themselves in the midst of a sonic happening.
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.
Samuel Kerridge will present the world premiere of Fatal Light Attraction. Working alongside Andrej Boleslavský & Mária Júdová controlling a system of live coding that responds in real time to the audio source, a system of intense lighting surrounds the performer, creating a sense of motion acting as a counterpart to the sound. The illusion of a moving shadow. Thrashes of guitar adjoin steely percussion, electric pulses wreaking havoc on the senses, with earth shuddering bass & kicks providing the raw physicality which has become synonymous with Samuels work.
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.
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))).
Bitstream are brothers Steve and Dave Conner, from Northamptonshire, UK. They started making music together in 1998, and over the course of 10 years produced music for various labels including Signal, CCO , Modern Love, and Touchin‘ Bass, and remixed the likes of Depeche Mode. After ending the project in 2008, they will reform for a one off show at Berlin Atonal 2015.
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.
Electro-Acoustic musician Emanuele Porcinai will present his WSR project. With a debut release scheduled on Contort in September 2015, his work is focused on the contrast between acoustic music and synthetic rhythms, and the manipulation of the product via tape and electronic means. Emanuele’s research and experimentation mainly concerns aural architecture and natural reverberation, and the creative use of these in compositional practice. Porcinai will be accompanied on stage by Koenrad Ecker of Lumisokea, providing live instrumentation.
Roly Porter began his career as one half of groundbreaking project Vex’d, releasing a series of singles on the Subtext imprint before moving to Planet Mu to release the classic Degenerate and Cloud Seed albums. His solo work fuses his background in sound system music with contemporary classical composition and focused sound design. He plays a live A/V show at Berlin Atonal 2015 as part of the Subtext Recordings label showcase.
Sergio Rezza is the musical meeting of DJ Deep and Roman Poncet. Their collaborative production bridges two worlds and lives happily in between territories. Between techno and noise, between the far end of a darkened club and a dreaming mind’s afterthoughts. The come together for a special live show as part of the Berlin Atonal 2015 aftershow program.
Ian McDonnell and Dara Smith make up Dublin-bred Lakker who since the early 2000s have been creating dark and bass-loaded music that resists easy categorisation into the various genres that have come to characterise the electronic music topography. For Berlin Atonal 2015, Lakker work up themes from their new album on R&S Records entitled Tundra into a world premiere live audio-visual show.
Russell Haswell is a restlessly forward-thinking, multi-disciplinary artist, performer and curator born in Coventry and currently based in London, England. With a background steeped in computer music, black metal, noise, techno, free-style and solo improvisation, his practice is renowned for broaching the extremities of visual and sonic arts. He is currently preparing a release for Diagonal Records and plays as part of their showcase at Berlin Atonal 2015.
Ellen Arkbro is a musician and sound-artist from Stockholm, Sweden. Her work takes form in precision-tunings for early music ensembles, pop songs and long duration performances of synthesised dream music. Her work has been described as an oscillation between the pop music of the ’90s and the American minimalism of the ’60s. Ellen’s sound work is heavily informed by her studies in Just Intonation which were conducted under the direction of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela in New York and Marc Sabat in Berlin. At Berlin Atonal 2015, Ellen Arkbro will presents her most recent audiovisual work, Pink Television, in a setting of continuous just intonation modulations, derived from the seventh region of the harmonic series.
Simon Pomery is a percussionist and guitar player with an interest in rhythm and noise. In this live show as part of the Diagonal Records showcase, he has put together a performance based around Taiko-inspired drumming patterns and drum machines, electronics, samples, contact mics, muscles and machinery.
John Bence is a composer and producer from Bristol. While his background is firmly positioned in the classical tradition, his undeniable skill as a producer allows him to reconfigure this tradition in constantly surprising and unusual ways, often incorporating voice or home recorded percussion into his cyclical technique of scoring, recording, manipulating, re-scoring and re-recording in waves, creating heady, intoxicating ripples of harmony and noise.
Yair Elazar Glotman is a musician and sound artist living in Berlin. His compositions are currently concerned with analog tape loops, electronics and, most importantly, contrabass – an instrument in which he is classically trained. For this piece he interrogates his chosen instrument, drawing out its hidden resonances, physical vibrations, and exploring the uncharted territory of the instrument’s acoustic dynamic range. Creating a separation between action and outcome, he escapes learned restraint, abandons former training, and develops a method by which concentration and control are translated into a visceral interaction with the bass, uncovering hidden sounds and building an expansive and dynamic sonic palette for the contrabass, beyond the confines of classical virtuosity.
Not Waving is the project of producer and live electronic musician Alessio Natalizia. His music channels a wealth of analogue machine sounds into a dusty, swirling space urged on by throbbing arpeggios and an adrenalised EBM dance floor spirit. He plays as part of the Diagonal Records showcase.
Polar Inertia is a hazy entity formed in 2010. Although coalescing around a singular musical output, the members of the group are also authors of texts, photographic works, printed artworks, videos and specific live performances for different contexts. Their creative activity therefore takes the form of polymorphic artistic processes, bound to evolve in various fields of creation. They channel these forces to devise a live performance for the Kraftwerk powerplant.
Moritz von Oswald: techno legend, electronic pioneer. Firmly entrenched in the modern history of forward-thinking music. Von Oswald is a long-serving master of improvisation, experimentalism and technical exactitude and he plays at Berlin Atonal for the first time since his live show (as part of Borderland with Juan Atkins) and DJ set in 2013.
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.
Guy Brewer’s creative output has yielded greatly since his early releases on Mote-Evolver and Our Circula Sound – describing a progressive change that is at all times moving forward in impulsivity and temperament. He brings the same spirit of constant elevation to his well regarded DJ sets.
Over the last few years Sigha is a name that has become synonymous with forward thinking techno and electronic music. His interest in immersive sound design and experimentation combined with a staunchly British take on the genre have helped him carve a unique path through a densely populated field.
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.
Since the early 1990s, Mark Verbos has worked as an Electronic Musician, Recording Engineer/Producer and Synthesizer Tech/Designer. Beginning as an understudy at the Wiard Synthesizer Company, he became the worldwide expert on vintage Buchla Electric Music Boxes. Servicing these rare vintage instruments prepared him to launch his own synthesizer brand, Verbos Electronics. His live performances are legendary for being entirely inprovised using analog gear.
Tarcar is a band from Melbourne. Their debut Mince Glace, came out on Blackest Ever Black late last year. They play DIY dub-damaged psychedelic daymare music with sounds of explosives and cold lullabies.
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.
Greener is the collaboration between Andreas Zacco and Franco Cinelli – two of Argentina’s most interesting electronic producers. Mixing Detroit techno and trippy textures, they present a special live show at Berlin Atonal 2015.
Willie Burns enjoys a great reputation for production, currently releasing on taste making labels such as The Trilogy Tapes, L.I.E.S. and Creme Organization. But this is probably excelled by his renown as a DJ, where he combines oddities and rarities, classics and forgotten gems.
DJ TLR is the head honcho, tastemaker, and principal curator of the Creme Organization and the principal exponent of The Hague Sound. Jeroen van der Star brings to the party his own style of juiced up house.
Bryan Kasenic organisers the lauded Bunker parties in New York, although he is also known for his adventurous DJ sets – one of which he will present as part of the Berlin Atonal aftershow program.
During a seven-year residency at Moscow’s famed Propaganda nightclub, Anton Zap honed a serious love for soulful American house, disco, funk, and gospel. Acclaimed for their combination of deep house and classic Detroit techno, both his releases and DJ sets cause a stir wherever they get some air.
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).