Festival guide: CTM 2016, Berlin

Festival guide: CTM 2016, Berlin

Written By:

The Attic


January 21, 2016

1. Rituals; Híbridos

CTM Festival 2016's theme is 'New Geographies', examining today’s rapidly collapsing borders and emerging new hybrid topographies. Special projects and commissions, as well as artists and sound cultures emanating from less familiar countries and localities and often operating on the fringes of the electronic circuit are featured in greater numbers than ever before. CTM 2016 mixes these diverse viewpoints into a programme of concerts, performances, exhibition works, discourse programme and more, with the aim to offer a sonic framework for today’s seemingly fervent times of crisis.

From January 29 to February 7 2016, CTM returns to its previously established constellation of a range of Berlin’s most exciting nightlife and cultural venues, including HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berghain, Yaam and Astra.

Here are some acts and projects that you should check at this year's edition of the festival.

Rituals; Híbridos - by Vincent Moon

Commissioned by CTM, Vincent Moon's multi-screen film installation will enlace themes of timeworn trance rituals and the sacred in modern life into a synthesis of new findings. The broadness of Moon’s work has relied for decades on his own travels and experiences rather than on academics, and allows for thematic connections across eras and worlds.

Vincent is an independent French filmmaker and self-described sound explorer. Over the past ten years, he has traveled around the world, discovering and recording everything from Sufism in Chechnya and Ethiopia, Ayahuasca rituals in Peru, trance in Brazil, Jathilan in Indonesia and Len Dong in Vietnam.

Directly following the installation opening on January 30, Vincent Moon will also present a performative lecture about his work, “Híbridos”, at the nearby HAU1 for the CTM 2016 Opening Concert this same evening.

With Híbridos, wanderer, independent filmmaker and sound researcher Vincent Moon creates a portrait of a contemporary Brazil as a laboratory of cultures, suggesting a path of coexistence and open geography. Through a lecture and screening of his transmedia project created with photographer, writer and director Priscilla Telmon, Moon explores what people who didn’t break their connection with planet earth, or are going back to that connection, have to tell us as a new way of living together via a cine-trance of emotions, words, gestures, silences, and intuitions.

Also, check out The Attic's Petites Planètes mixtape.

2. For The Right Red Hand


'For The Right Red Hand' (world premiere) - Rabih Beaini

CTM guest co-curator Rabih Beaini premieres "For The Right Red Hand", a work especially composed for CTM that divides an ensemble of eight instrumentalists into two mirroring groups of trumpet (Liz Allbee, Mazen Kerbaj), guitar (Sam Shalabi, Sharif Sehnaoui), drums (Daniele De Santis, Tommaso Cappellato), and voice (Sofia Jernberg, Rully Shabara).

Although identical in instrumentation, the two groups at times create opposing and conflicting counterpoints, tensions, and uneasy coexistence. Through barely audible tones, repetition, and extended techniques, this interplay of standpoints is punctuated and gradually enhanced by Beaini at the mixing desk, reaching a cohesive, open geography of human spirit.

Lebanese-born producer and DJ Rabih Beaini (formerly known as Morphosis) specializes in grainy, imaginative analogue techno. In the past year however, his Morphine label has telescoped in on key (often overlooked) voices in avant-garde electronic and outernational music. While his productions join the dots between raw, elementary electronica, and jazz, his Morphine label has put forward an equally forward-thinking selection of techno from the likes of Madteo, Hieroglyphic Being, and Anthony "Shake" Shakir. In 2014, the label entered a new era with a retrospective trilogy of works by US-based improviser and Buchla synth master Charles Cohen.

*January 30, 19.00, at HAU1 (Stresemannstr. 29)

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3. Abdel Karim Shaar

An Evening with Abdel Karim Shaar

After an invitation by guest curator Rabih Beaini, legendary Lebanese singer Abdel Karim Shaar appears in an especially memorable evening.

Born in Tripoli, Shaar began his vocal training leading calls to prayer as a muezzin in mosques and singing in a Christian church choir. As a young man, he also learned the art of Tajweed or Quranic recitation. In the 1970s, Shaar commenced his career in entertainment on Lebanese television and received widespread recognition for his idiosyncratic singing style.

Over the years, he’s become associated with deeply moving performances that combine ornate, delicately-articulated Arabic phrasing and both mental and physical endurance; most often, his two-or three-hour-long appearances are centred on a single, two- or three-minute standard of the Arabic pop music canon. Each evening is devoted to a particular classic rendition of one of these songs (most often by the masterful Umm Kulthum), and sees Shaar delivering this version through a fusion of structure and improvisation, or, as he calls it, the “transference of energy”. Like Umm Kulthum, an Egyptian songwriter, singer, and actress, Shaar is closely linked to the traditional concept of tarab, which describes music’s evocation of emotional catharsis. Because Shaar’s approach to singing prioritizes the mindfulness and dynamic exchange of live musical communication, he has never recorded an album. For years he has had a residency at Beirut's Metro Al-Madina, a small, dimly-lit downtown cabaret venue hung with red velvet curtains.

For this special evening, the antique ballroom Heimathafen Neukölln, a venue never before used for the festival, will host a special variété concert in the style of one of Shaar’s classic Medina performances. The singer will be accompanied by his band of oud, qanon, violin, and riq players. The event will seat a small capacity and is only included for owners of the CTM Gold Pass.

*February 1, 20.00, at Heimathafen Neukölln (Karl-Marx-Str. 141)

4. Coordinates III

Coordinates III - Keiji Haino, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Senyawa

This dynamic and evolving concert interweaves different voices, minds and spheres of current sounds and practices from Southeast Asia.

Keiji Haino and Kazuhisa Uchihashi will share the stage with Senyawa’s Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi to engage in a multilogue that will shift between solo playing and collaborative performance in various constellations. All of the performers share an investment in the transformative powers of sound and an involvement in the practice of performance as an existential exploration of spirit, identity, and culture.

Haino is a Tokyo-based noise-, improv-, and drone musician and guitarist whose long-standing, venerated career has navigated a wide array of styles and instrumentations. Uchihashi is a guitarist and free-improvisor. He is the founder of the band Altered States, the label Innocent Records, and the festival Beyond Innocence.

As Senyawa, Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryadi embody the aural flavours of Javanese music while exploring the framework of experimental music practice, pushing the boundaries of both traditions.

*February 3, 19.00, at HAU2 (Hallesches Ufer 32)

5. Zones II

Zones II - Ana-Maria Avram & Iancu Dumitrescu with Hyperion Ensemble featuring Stephen O'Malley

CTM’s presentation of Iancu Dumitrescu and Ana-Maria Avram continues the festival’s tradition of celebrating international pioneers in experimental and electronic music. The two have long acted as central figures in the spectralist movement in contemporary composition. As opposed to the French structuralist spectralism marked by the work of Gerard Grisey or Tristan Murail, ‘transformational’, ‘acousmatic’, or ‘hyper-’spectralism emphasizes the shift to a cooperative, non-hierarchical process shared between composer, performer and living sound.

While both spectral traditions honour timbre as a central element of structure or language, the branch of spectralism promulgated by Dumitrescu and Avram believes in the phenomenological, dynamic presence of sound, and in composition as an experience of constant change rather than as a contained, pre-formatted object. According to these thinkers, sound has its own rules, and, when given attention, dictates both direction and movement. In the sense that a departure from the idea of ego-driven human ‘moulding’ of music is a trajectory into a new territory, Hyperion and its leaders contribute fundamentally to the festival’s theme.

Sunn O))) co-founder and all-around musical trailblazer Stephen O’Malley appears as a special guest soloist with the ensemble. In his brainchild Sunn O))), O’Malley and bandmate Greg Anderson share Dumitrescu and Avram’s understanding and experience of sound as sculptural, amoebic, and share their love of it as massive.

The appearance of the spectralist crew will be followed by Antye Greie-Ripatti’s project AGF:poemproducer. Greie-Ripatti is a vocalist, digital songwriter, producer, performer, e-poet, calligrapher, digital media artist and curator. She explores digital technology through the deconstruction of language and communication.

*February 3, 22.00, at Berghain

6. Coordinates IV

Coordinates IV - Pauline Oliveros, Mazen Kerbaj, Karen Power, Sharif Sehnaoui, Takuya Taniguchi

This concert features three different acts that draw important connections between new sonic geographies and physicality.

American composer and instrumentalist Pauline Oliveros' groundbreaking work in tape, electronics, and improvisation as well as her related writings and theory since the 1960s have earned her recognition as one of the most important voices in avant-garde electronic music. She performs with electronics and accordion, which she has played from a young age, often also making use of a signal processing system she developed, called the Expanded Instrument System (EIS). Influenced by Eastern philosophies, Oliveros’s ideas reach far beyond Western music tradition and have pioneered new ways of thinking about sound, significantly contributing to the theoretical canon surrounding the concepts of sonic affect and healing. Her writing about “deep listening” proposes that concentrated emotional and corporeal attunement to sound can bring about transcendent and transformative experiences, and her theory of “sonic awareness” describes the act of focusing attention, over an extended duration, on an environment’s aural characteristics.

This evening, Oliveros will be performing together with Lebanese trumpet player Mazen Kerbaj and Irish improviser and composer Karen Power. Both artists currently live and work in Berlin, thanks to a residency grant by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD. Preceding the concert, Oliveros will share the thoughts and philosophies that have shaped her work over the years in an artist talk.

The achievements of guitarist and free improviser Sharif Sehnaoui's musical career have been dependent on his equal role as pioneer and activist. With Mazen Kerbaj and Raed Yassin, Sehnaoui formed “A” Trio, whose first album release in 2003 was allegedly the first dated recording of Arab free-improv music. Sehnaoui’s co-founding of Irtijal, Lebanon’s only experimental music festival, was another groundbreaking act of ambition and expansion in the face of Lebanon’s landscape of political tension.

CTM has commissioned a collaboration between Sehnaoui, Omar Rajeh and Malek Andary. Rajeh is a Lebanese dance choreographer and founder of BIPOD, the biggest contemporary dance festival in the Arab world. Malek Andary has widely expanded the notion of folklore in Arabic dance. They will perform a contemporary rendition of traditional Lebanese sword dances & dabkeh propelled by Sehnaoui’s industrial/oriental rhythms and swirling improvisations.

To close this special concert night, Japanese musician Takuya Taniguchi performs a solo piece for Taiko drums. Continuing in the footsteps of his Master, Eitetsu Hayashi, who is regarded as Japan’s foremost solo drummer and co-founded the world renowned ensembles Kodo and Ondekoza, Takuya Taniguchi bridges the Taiko tradition with influences of a variety of contemporary music cultures.

*February 4, 19.00, at HAU2 (Hallesches Ufer 32)

7. Coordinates V

Coordinates V - Kink Gong, Carolin Brandl & Hanno Leichtmann

The musician and DIY music ethnographer Laurent Jeanneau presents his project Kink Gong.

Since 1999, over many trips to Southeast Asia, Jeanneau has documented the local music traditions of ethnic minorities whose cultures are threatened by modernisation. Jeanneau collects and compiles these unedited recordings into an ever-growing sound and video archive. Excerpts of this archival work are published on the label Sublime Frequencies and his own label. In addition, Jeanneau uses these recordings, which focus mostly on vocal and percussion music, as the starting point for his own emotionally-charged electronic experiments and sound compositions then broadened by other field recordings. In these compositions, the traditions and avant-gardes of a diverse range of places merge into new, contemporary statements.

The musician Hanno Leichtmann and filmmaker Carolin Brandl bring the lunatic, hypnotic musical film “African Twin Towers” back to life using as yet unpublished, self-made footage by Christoph Schlingensief.

Christoph Schlingensief’s unfinished film project—the film that never existed — was originally conceived as a feature-length with an unusual cast. Patti Smith, Robert Stadlober, Klaus Beyer and the Fassbinder actress Irm Hermann followed the late theatre, opera, and film director and artist, who heralded failure as opportunity and as an open research project, to the port city of Lüderitz in Namibia’s Township Area 7. After mere days, most people involved had reached their wit’s end.

*February 4, 19.30, at HAU1 (Stresemannstr. 29)

8. Bread woman

Breadwoman - Anna Homler and Steven Warwick

This is the first-time resurrection of the DIY myth-making performance art- and music project Breadwoman by Anna Holmer & Steven Warwick aka Heatsick.

Breadwoman is the 1980s brainchild of Anna Homler and Steve Moshier, two interdisciplinary artists from Los Angeles. Their curious collaboration adopted the visual figurehead of baguette-toting woman who’s “so very old she’s turned into bread”. This nameless, origin-less, and language-less character stands for Moshier’s and Homler’s valuing of music as primitive, futuristic, ritualistic, theatrical, and mythical, and of the voice as a sonic element more than an arbiter of meaning. Homler sings in a made-up language over Moshier’s drenched, locomotive loops. The collaboration was marked with a cassette release in 1985, which has upon its 30th anniversary recently been reissued as Breadwoman and Other Tales by Brooklyn’s RVNG Intl.

For this performance, Homler is joined by an extra theatrical performer and by Steven Warwick, who will rework the project’s original music.

*February 5, 20.30, at HAU2 (Hallesches Ufer 32)

9. Flows III

Flows III - Borusiade, Mikael Seifu, Baris K, Honey Dijon, Resom

While the Berghain main floor is in the throes of hypnosis (Opium Hum, Esplendor Geométrico, T'ien Lai, Kassem Mosse, Gesloten Cirkel, Alienata), Panorama will be flaunting rhythmic pockets that are just as deep and varied.

Romanian-born Berliner and SHAPE platform supported artist Borusiade lays the groundwork with bruising combinations of minimal wave, dark disco, and acidic, rough-shod house. Her upcoming 2016 EP, Jeopardy, will come out on Cómeme.

Ascendant Ethiopian Mikael Seifu explores potential for hybrid identity and new horizons by blending the music of nomadic Ethiopian folk musicians with a self-described electronic "dream brew".

Istanbul’s veteran DJ and expert crate-digger Bariş K lays it on thick and slow with Middle Eastern psychedelia and resolute cosmic disco.

New York fashion world darling Honey Dijon’s taste in potent, irresistible house recalls the revolutionary dance breakthroughs of her local NYC’s and native Chicago’s legends like Danny Tenaglia and Derrick Carter. Her direct, floor-shaking approach cuts zero corners.

Resom, the last to take the floor, is not only a well-respected DJ and promoter in Berlin, but she is also an advocate for reestablishing club culture as a locus of progressive politics. Since her early days in Leipzig with the Homo Elektrik collective, Resom has been actively promoting critical discourse around social and political issues within the dance music community. She spins an all-vinyl selection of trippy, lo-fi techno, acid, and electro.

*February 5, 23.59, at Panorama Bar

10. Deep Web

Deep Web - Installation and performance by Christopher Bauder & Robert Henke

Deep Web is a monumental immersive audiovisual installation created by light artist Christopher Bauder and composer and musician Robert Henke. Sublimating the spectacular industrial architecture of Kraftwerk Berlin, Deep Web plunges the audience into a ballet of iridescent kinetic light and surround sound.

The work will be presented daily within CTM 2016 Festival, and closes with the presentation of a special enhanced live performance version on Sunday 7 February.

The generative, luminous architectural structure weaves 175 motorized spheres and 12 high power laser systems into a 25 meter wide and 10 meter high super-structure, bringing to life a luminous analogy to the nodes and connections of digital networks. Moving up and down, and choreographed and synchronized to an original multi-channel musical score by Robert Henke, the spheres are illuminated by blasts of colorful laser beams resulting in three-dimensional sculptural light drawings and arrangements in Kraftwerk Berlin’s cavernous darkness.

The installation brings together decades of separate research and experimentation by two artists with unique visions and passions for sound and light, and by innovative companies working in these fields. High-end laser system manufacturer LaserAnimation Sollinger provided the technical expertise and development for this very specific spatial laser setup, while the motor winch systems and main control software are provided courtesy of Design Studio WHITEvoid and Kinetic Lights.

*February 7, 19.00, at Kraftwerk Berlin (Köpenicker Strasse 70)

11. Whatever is After

Whatever is After - CTM x RBMA Afterparty: Rabih Beaini, Love Cult, Nan Kolè, HMOT and special guest

The RBMA x CTM 2016 closing concert is followed by an afterparty, also co-hosted, celebrating the conclusion of ten high-octane festival days. The afterparty takes place just across the Spree, at Watergate.

CTM guest co-curator Rabih Beaini sets the stage with a special DJ set dedicated to this year’s festival edition, exhibiting his far-reaching tastes as a producer, rambler, and collector. His wild musical amalgams combine original recordings from around the globe, Middle Eastern-influenced rhythmic cells, African space-jazz, multiple sources of vocal and instrumental meanderings with homemade techno structures. The results are a new form of vivacious and raw eclectic sound.

Love Cult, who make murky, esoteric “militant house” or “goth jungle” as an outlet “for worries and fears”, join Beaini at Watergate for their second appearance at this year’s festival. They are tastemakers in a flourishing Russian music underground concerned with giving voice to angsty, prolific youth cultures in both urban and remote locations. The DJ sets of Ivan Zoloto and Anya Kuts - also graduates of the Red Bull Music Academy programme - display their unique taste in edgy, beat-oriented sepulchral drudges.

Russian compatriot HMOT also joins the bill. Creating music that is highly detailed and full of references, strictly structured yet with a completely organic feel, as a DJ HMOT mixes his wide-ranging love of music and the inputs collected through his work as a freelance curator and head of the Klammklang label.

Nan Kolè is a Rome-born DJ and co- owner of Gqom Oh!, a label founded together with South Africa-based Lerato Phiri especially dedicated to spreading the scope of gqom, a dance music style that’s recently risen out of Durban. Gqom takes its cues from a specific dance, bhenga, and is characterised by low-key house tempos, broken beats, vocal samples, and juicy drum fills. Much of it is produced by teenagers from the suburbs and townships. Nan Kolè describes the style as “apocalyptic riot music” reflecting South Africa’s strained history and acting as a crossroads for UK funky, kwaito, hip hop, and traditional African rhythm.

*February 7, 23.59, at Watergate

**Please consult the entire program of CTM 2016 Festival HERE.

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