CTM 2015 Review


As I continue to upload some pieces from the past, here is my review of CTM 2015 for Secret Thirteen.

CTM ranks among the most comprehensive events in the world in terms of exploring and presenting digital culture of and beyond music, sound, club culture and new technologies. Since 1999, the festival annually occupies many venues in Berlin with concerts, music events, exhibitions and lectures in cooperation with Transmediale – international festival for art and digital culture. Each year, CTM comes up with a new concept reflecting the current trends within music and art and provides political, social and scientific context to them.

This year’s leitmotif, Un Tune, provided many perspectives on perceiving the physical sound waves with our bodies on a scale from whole body to tiny sensors of our ears and brain. The performances often provided physical and sometimes even confusing experience due to the experimentation with antagonistic impacts on musical perception, frequencies and sound effects. Therefore, few tendencies which could be spotted in various performances and stretched through the whole line-up could be noticed:

  • (sub)bass and a physical experience of music

Since the opening till the last night in Berghain, you could feel music not only with your heart but also with your gut. And a chest, a throat and the rest of your physical body. I’m (Zuzana Friday) almost sure that few times I even functioned as a speaker myself, with my stomach wiggling like a membrane and reflecting the low frequencies back to the stage. Since this was the strongest and also the most common attribute which many performances shared, it seemed like the pure audio experience where you have to make some extra effort to feel music physically (e.g. dance) is not enough or necessarily needed anymore. This extra dimension of performed music didn’t only accompany the listening; often what you physically felt was almost as important as what you actually heard. The reason for this obsession with intense low frequencies can be in artists‘ reflection of the status quo regarding the western society as well as their own lives. Simply put, we’re going down, and so does the frequency range. From the audience’s perspective, the reason may lay in the need for more stimuli to stay focused and appreciate the art of music in the ADHD times of general overstimulation and lack of concentration. Otherwise, the music will adjust to you, which leads to a second common aspect:

  • Liquidity

Other producers within this year’s CTM embodied in their music a contemporary absent-mindedness, the need to reward your brain with a little amount of pleasure-causing chemicals each time you switch from one activity to another, and the anxiety people nowadays fight while standing with one leg in the cyberspace and in multiply physical realities with another one. Artists like TCF get their inspiration in the digital world of encrypted security codes and musicalise the stream of binary data. Another producers‘ music, like SOPHIE’s, changes within seconds from one style to another, as well as our thoughts are being ceaselessly distracted by checking a hypothetical new notification or a message on your smartphone.

  • Lack of Joy

Apart of few performances in YAAM and Panorama Bar, the overwhelming majority of the acts were rather dark, gloomy, serious, introspective, massive. If vocals were used, then usually sampled in a twisted or high pitched way, or for screaming the hell out of the artist.

CTM 2015 | Skywire

23. 1. CTM 2015 MusicMakers Hacklab Opening

Apart of music performances, concerts and lectures, the 3rd edition of MusicMakers Hacklab took place. This week-long interdisciplinary workshop brought together outstanding experts and enthusiasts from various realms of music, art and science, who had to create a final performance event on Sunday evening. HackLab also had an opening show within the whole CTM Festival opening in the old citadel of Bethanien. In this performance in terms of Hacklab, a sound artist and a performer Marco Donnarumma used his own body as an instrument and created compositions with moves and dance. I was amongst the majority of people who couldn’t see the performance in its whole due to a lack of space and too many heads in front of me, which turned out to be a problem several times during the festival. But as Justinas Mikulskis said, this problem occurs quite often. The example might be Berlin Atonal festival where even art/music critics couldn’t see 4D installations by Biosphere or Senking due to the size of the venue and the number of people. Nevertheless, I could at least observe Donnarumma’s shadow which fluttered on the walls and ceiling and created impossible humanoid shapes. Together with rather mecha-generated sounds using his organic body, it reminded me of Arca’s show from the end of the last year, when both Arca’s rough music and Jesse Kanda’s visuals tried to get to every corner of our ears and the screen.

24. 1. Alpha I and Beta I

The Alpha I and Beta I events on 24th January were sharing a venue – a club called Yaam, earlier a hub for African immigrants in Berlin, now an established club where contemporary and dance music nights alternate with reggae, dancehall or Brazilian parties. Having two stages filled with music at the same time, one could easily switch according to what do they prefer.

My first stop was Alexandra Droener alias Kepler, who threw at us a stern, angry beats between grime, future hip hop and post-dubstep. Thanks to their boldness, they could also be heard well in a chill out space between the two stages, where it blended with Franz Bargmann’s squeaky guitar drones into a nice, bassy meditative music. The following project on Beta stage was a world premier of OAKE‚s performance which included a special decorations consisting of hundreds of tapes and a group of dancers. Unfortunately, the stage was on the floor and so were the dancers, therefore most of the visitors could only visually enjoy a light show projected on the hanging tapes. The music itself was powerful and massive, having subbass and post-techno beats as a base and a wide palette of noises and ethereal female vocal on the top, which created a post-rock-structured mini opuses narrating a story. Grebenstein‚s live set was similar with its dark, yet meditative atmosphere and percussive, layered beats.

Returning back to Alpha, Danny L. Harle showered us with 90s trancy PC Music madness. After him, another PC Music’s producer, Sophie, took over. This shy and reserved-looking prince in black outfit paired his colour-blasting pop music with Terminator sounds and made the crowd go wild, even though it was a challenge: New music requires new dance moves. So while enjoying his eclectic music, I wished my body could fluidly transform like a pink jello or a tar according to the sound directions he conducted. Still, his marshmallow-like vocals and kawai aesthetics of material teenage girls mixed with bass and clinky beats that swooshed around like a fizzy lemonade and his biggest hit Hey QT raised a wave of XTC.

27. 1. XENO I

On Tuesday 27th, the CTM marathon continued with XENO I, an event presenting various audio incarnations of sounds of hell with a strong accent on its depth. The whole club was wreathed in clouds of artificial smoke, giving each visitor an opportunity to completely submerge into the sound and their own minds. The night started off with Elisabeth Schimana, an Austrian composer and performer, who brought an Max Brand Synthesizer to life, or probably invoked his spirits of an afterlife. The monstrous synth called Höllenmaschine (the machine from hell) from the 1950s had to be operated with help of Gregor Ladenhauf and Manon Lui Winter, and in her performance, Schimana explored possibilities of its dark insides and labyrinthine circuits.

After Schimana played Peder Mannerfelt, a Swedish artist who has been known as a techno producer under a moniker The Subliminal Kid, as a half of Roll the Dice as well as for his collaboration with his compatriot Fever Ray. Nevertheless, on his last year’s debut album, ‚the subbass nihilist‘ crumbled techno compositions into raw, pulsing loops with choppy drums and piercing synths. His performance (which included a blonde long haired wig covering his face, which made him look like Itt from The Adam’s Family) brought his new musical direction to the very core and sometimes even resembled of a no-input music.

The Bug‚s new bold project called Sirens, which was presented after Mannerfelt’s performance, seemed to be the highlight of the night. Not only because it was said to be different from any previous show of his, but also due to its demanding construction combining The Bug’s own sound system, Berghain’s Function One equipment and instruments that the futurist movement would be contended about: sirens, foghorns and bass drones. But even though the project promised ‚a complete body/mind wash‘, I experienced that kind of state of body and mind during JK Flesh‚s closing performance. Sirens were a massive, ambitious project which required as much attention as which you need to watch the path to a dark, unknown place if you want to find the way back. The abstract music striked our receptors with vigour and due to the fact that The Bug is a master of bass, the listening experience was indeed physical. But Justin Broadrick‚s musical past (grind core, metal, drone, industrial, electronica) escalated in the fantastic eternal stream of noise that was pouring towards us from the wall of speakers. JK Flesh’s rough minimal drone and apocalyptic ambient filled the whole space of Berghain with sound as if it was the smoke itself and provided both massive and meditative experience when I faced the speakers, turned off the brain, closed my eyes and embraced the eternity pervading me for a moment.

28. 1. Un Tune III

On Wednesday 28th, HAU 1 histed Markus Schmickler‚s performance in terms of Un Tune series. He’s originated in Cologne, the cradle of Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose music Smickler discovered in young age, and where he later studied music by himself. On Wednesday evening, his interest in difference tones and perception of various audio illusions was noticeable and resembled his Sator Rotas album. It started as a solid noise, which slowly transformed into sounds of circuits arguing with each other. Then, the music sounded like a liquid metal falling in drops, like a rain of heavy metals. Eventually, the metal got solid and rusty and as Schmickler turned about 85% of the volume down, I had to ensure myself that all that beautiful chaos didn’t temporarily damage my hearing. But thanks to the thoughtfulness of the organisers who were giving away earplugs at the entrance, we were all fine, even though it was a mentally exhausting experience due to Schmickler’s interest in audio phenomenons like Shepard tone or divergence.

29. 1. Un Tune IV

Thursday started off with a performance of TCF, a Norwegian audio and visual artist, who extends his creative interests to block-chain encryption, tea, robotics and digital data sonification. He also gave a lecture on Artificial Intelligence and music production earlier that week. His performance merged organic and digital in such a way that thinking in labels of organic and digital actually felt out of fashion. While the visitors were partly sitting, partly lying on the ground on soft pillows, TCF’s volatile music gushed trickled as if he would be tuning the radio trying to reach some broadcast space station. There was a lot of noise and aggressive synths that were following one another, but also a rhythmical work with silence. In one moment, the sounds were scattered as if you’d have many tabs on your browser opened and keep flicking through them, but eventually TCF got into more ambient mood and played around with sub bass.

The following audiovisual piece called PV868 by TeZ was caught in loops. The video part was using only a very limited range of shapes and colours and it was synchronized with the music. Maurizio Martinucci worked with binaural beats which were distributed through a quadraphonic surround system. With this, he created a sound fog, that later gained on intensity and was accompanied by deep bass and pulsing high frequencies.

After that, in Berghain and Panorama Bar, Xeno III and Theta I took place. The night started with (surprisingly) cheerful eclectic funky DJ set by Errorsmith who is DIY not when releasing music, but also creating own electronic musical gadgets. Evian Christ presented deep, atmospheric slow motion set. But what caught me the most from pacing here and back on the two dancefloors was a German premiere of Sherwood & Pinch. The legendary dub producer and Tectonic recording label owner joined forces and created deep, ecstatic and ethereal dubstep performance.

31. 1. Xeno IV and Theta II

Friday night started off with Opium Hum‚s set. Since he’s a co-curator of the whole festival as well as Leisure System parties, initiator of ≠ (not equal) series and organizer of Boiler Room, I was expecting him to splash the freshest and exceptional music over me. But his set was surprisingly monotone and quite drab since it just contained dregs of what we could experience within the festival – doom, bass, monotone rhythms… At the same time, another Boiler Room organizer and a member of Greco Roman enterprise, Full Nelson, was playing next door (in Panorama bar to be precise). He entertained the overcrowded dancefloor with dance-friendly and energetic house music. From 3 am, James Donadio alias Prostitutes challenged our dancing skills with industrial hewn 3D beats which were breaking in arrhythmia. Even though it was engaging at the beginning, after some time it lost the magic with going nowhere and sounding all the time the same. My personal highlight of the night was following artist, Egyptrixx, who provided us a beautiful sonic experience, where he managed to blend physical (sub)bass with sound scapes and synths which gradually developed in refined techno.

All in all, this year’s CTM audience could experience all kinds of dark and deep electronic music and innovative sonic technologies and concepts, from 3D to binaural beats. And occasionally also have a good dance. Nevertheless, let’s be curious about the next year, which will maybe follow the evolution of electronic music in terms of their possibilities in biology, physics and perception as well as formal expression of concepts and sonification of data. In any case, this year felt pretty good.

New Label Series #5: UnReal + Interview with Born In Flamez


New Label Series for CDM is about pitching emerging record labels or platforms which seem promising and unique. Every piece features an interview with label founder(s) and sometimes also with releasing artist(s) and with my own observations as well as questions, I try to grasp the main interests and key qualities of each imprint. The fifth article from February is dedicated to a promotional platform and record label UnReal and their post gender and post-genre artist Born In Flamez (original article here). — Friday

UnReal Tour Poster by Shaltmira | Skywire
UnReal Tour Poster by Shaltmira

Anyone can find some friends with common musical values and start a collective. But how do you make something that can prove itself as radically different – especially in the hyper-saturated musical landscape of a city like Berlin?

That’s what the platform UnReaL Life is able to do. It’s not overly narrow in philosophy: the group’s genre range is huge, making a statement more about how music is made than what it is. But it remains coherent, and finds gems out of a variety of emerging scenes.

The group started when three people came together. Brandon Rosenbluth traded the perpetual sunshine of LA for the steel-grey skies of the German capital. In Berlin, he has done promoting and booking as BL4CK M4G1CK before starting UnReaL (and continues to work with the likes of Holly Herndon via booking in LittleBig Agency) has been a drummer in the avant-doom band reliq and now is part of the shamanic noise techno duo Shaddah Tuum. Then there’s Brooklyn-born and Neukölln-based Daniel Dodecahendron, aka Jones, aka Gucci Goth, aka BlackBlackGold, who’s also into doom, music journalism (including Electronic Beats), and dark aesthetics. The third figure in black is Tomas Hemstad from Sweden, who writes about gender-related issues and promotes Gegen, one of the best queer parties in town.

Together, they bring artists to Berlin who are often “something else” in the existing musical scenes or those who create their own. That has included Mykki Blanco, Shapednoise, Ancient Methods, Ketev, and Deathface. Their events #gHashtag and Purge make their way from the dark holes of Neukölln and Kreuzberg to more-visible clubs like Urban Spree and back. Just seek the magick and you will find it…

Apart from promoting and booking, UnReaL also publishes articles and interviews, mixes and releases music. We asked Brandon to partially reveal the mysterious veil of UnReaL and he agreed. Moreover, Born In Flamez (released on UnReaL) also agreed to have a conversation about post-genre and post-gender – more on them including the interview is written below. The interview with Brandon is right here:

Friday: For several years you’ve been hosting parties and mix series, you’ve got a magazine, and since last year, you’ve also added a record label. How did it all start and evolve? How did you guys meet?

Brandon: I started promoting in Berlin in 2010 under the guise of Black Magick. In those Witch Haus heydays, I came to DJ alongside Daniel Jones (BlackBlackGold) and Tomas Hemstad (Tom Ass) quite often. Daniel brought me into the Drop Dead festival fold, where I hosted a showcase which included Tomas on the decks. While thrashing out to some heavy tunes together on the dance floor, we three decided to team up and founded PURGE which began in [the club] Chez Jacki, infected CTM, and reached its pinnacle in the main room of the bi-monthly Sameheads-co-hosted, 3-room rave-ups we put on in the days of Raum, including acts as diverse as HTRK, Ancient Methods, Devilman, and Sewn Leather.

#gHashtag was its grime-y little sister that inhabited Neukölln basements and still plagues Sameheads periodically. Daniel and Tomas are both writers, so it naturally evolved into a webzine to accompany our promotion activities, one that would not only profile underground music, but also art, fashion, and magick, and thus UnReaL was born. We signed on for a monthly radio show at Berlin Community Radio from its inception, early on inviting guests including Kiran Sande (Blackest Ever Black), William Bennett (Cut Hands), and Lorenzo Senni. We wanted to further our mission of promoting non-genre bound, non-gender-defined music and occulture and thus launched the label in 2014 with limited-edition etched-glass pyramid plus download code for Born In Flamez’s debut EP “Polymorphous.” That has since been remixed by the likes of Paula Temple, Anika, and Aisha Devi, amongst others. Since then, we did a DJ tour of the US and Tomas moved to San Francisco where he has carried the torch with his UnReaL nights there.

UnReal Life Ghashtag Poster | Skywire

You seem to be mostly busy with organizing events – hosting #gHashtag parties, UnReal shows, co-hosting events with CTM or Noiseköln or even Kometenmelodien… What are the recent and future activities of UnReal?

BR: It is a lifelong passion of mine to organize shows, so that’s where my focus was for a long time now, but anyone in the game knows it’s a fickle business, especially with non-commercial music, and you’re lucky to break even at the end of the day. So, my personal focus has shifted to managing the label Portals Editions which I co-run with Marijn Degenaar (Circular Ruins), Yair Glotman (Ketev), and Nicolas Lefort (my partner in Shaddah Tuum) and showcases around our family of artists which is growing at a very healthy pace. UnReaL will throw in a dash of #gHash throughout the year, and will keep on with our radio show highlighting exciting news sounds bubbling up from all corners.

The music range of the artists you choose for your events, mixes and articles is vast – from patten or James Ferraro to Samuel Kerridge, Pictureplane or Egyptrixx. But despite that, UnReaL keeps a coherent image and musical and visual aesthetics. How do you achieve that?

BR: To us, it all makes total sense together – whether it’s a musical conversation about deconstructing pop, techno, industrial or any other genre, we like the artists who don’t sit neatly into any box, and have a strong, singular vision. I would like to think that our followers recognize our ability to highlight music of quality across all genres, and trust our taste enough to take the leap with us.

Since there’s three of you, how do you distribute the tasks of all your activities? Do you ever argue?

BR: It’s rather voluntary. Each does as much as he likes and can do at any given moment, with a focus on his area of expertise. We support each others endeavors and all take on different roles at different times. Sometimes we are more effective and productive than other times within this loose structure, but we never argue because we are all in it for the love.

Do you have other artists in mind to be released on your record label? Since two of you are also musicians, it kind of suggests itself that you’d release some of your own music. Or is that a no-no?

BR: The debut release on Portals Editions was my duo Shaddah Tuum’s 12″, and both Portals’ and UnReaL’s activities will certainly serve as a platform for our own music as well as our talented international friends of old and new who make music that we believe the world needs to hear!

Born In Flamez, Trans-Human Artist

The main artist releasing on UnReal up to this date is Born In Flamez. BIF is a post-gender and post-genre artist, which fits well into the whole UnReaL attitude of promoting the acts who shake things up around the edges – rather than going for a typical sound or image.

As experienced in BIF’s amazing podcasts (check out the latest one for UrbanEssence here — it’s one of my favorite ’empowering’ ones), the artist’s musical tastes reach the heavier and darker parts of the independent electronic music spectrum – bass, post-d’n’b and jungle, grime, experimental fluid techno, post-internet cuts’n’hums. Then there’s also BIF’s choice of collaborators who remixed the EP, including Paula Temple, Aïsha Devi, and She’s Drunk. BIF also opened for artists like Oneohtrix Point Never and Peaches. All of that hints at BIF’s musical taste and direction. But BIF’s own production exists in its own micro-universe, like in a womb, or an incubator.

The idea of a world where gender and genre is a concept of the past reminds me of other escapist movements such as afro-futurism. Nevertheless, Born In Flamez doesn’t fly off to another planet, but stays with us, as an inspiration, as an example of how we could be. One of BIF’s tracks is called The Other Sex, which could be a future conception of gender – the one exempt from stereotypes, redefining identity as a transhuman, partly flesh and party steel.

Born In Flamez’s voice is human and soothing, but doesn’t reach body temperature. On top of that, it also sometimes gets ‘screwed’ to lower and computed positions. Yet it is still delicate and beautiful and is an essential and significant part of the music. And then there are the beats – ethereal, surreal, hyperreal. Listen for yourself:

Friday: You were born in flamez. What was burning and destroyed which gave you your existence?

BIF: Identity in all its limiting binary systems, patriarchy & any kind of hierarchical order. Musical boundaries and the shadows of the past. But also: You should really watch the movie.

Last year, you released your first EP Polymorphous. I love the idea of releasing the EP as a glass pyramid with a download code – a polymorphous object which suits to the EP name and concept and gives a material existence to a binary, virtual information which mp3 is. Where does the idea come from? Why did you choose glass and a pyramid shape?

Glass is ephemeral and transparent, which very much fits the project, also its existence transcends the CD and outlives vinyl. The label and I really wanted the music to have a representation in time and space besides being a code on some server in the nertherworld of null and one. The pyramid is the 3-dimensional version of the triangle which is particularly important to the project, especially when it’s pretty in pink. So it was a natural fit.

I read that after seeing Paula Temple’s audiovisual performance, you wanted her to remix your track so much that she eventually agreed. How did you choose other artists for Polymorphous Remixed? What is it that you respect about musicians and artists, which aspects of their work are the magnets that attract you the most?

I was so fortunate to have my tracks remixed by people who I deeply respect for what they do, something substantial in/ with their music. I have a very broad taste in music, as it ranges from classical to noise to pop to UK hardcore, etc. But I also have a very niche taste in music, because it has to get to me n some way. And for this, it has to sound fresh or bring something new to me. Whether that is a musical approach of working with a beat/ grid, free structure or harmonies that seem daring, or whether it’s a special mixture of bringing different influences together, or a way to turn silence into sound, is not important, but it has to surprise me.

Speaking of other artists, you were a supporting act for Oneohtrix Point Never and you also recently played on an aftershow of Peaches, who you called a king. Since both OPN’s and Peaches’ music differs quite a lot from yours, how was the crowd’s response to your music on both shows? Did you play live?

I did play live at both occasions and both shows were really different and really great. I prepared slightly different sets, because I felt that I could experiment with OPN’s crowd more than at an afterparty where people actually go because they wanna have fun and dance.

I think both acts do share some influences with Born In Flamez. If you listen to Peaches’ last album, there’s a lot of cloud rap and footwork references in there, which also inform my sound. Maybe not as directly, but they definitely do. And OPN and I both share a love for experiments and deep deep sub bass… I also supported HEALTH at Berghain recently, who definitely have a completely different sound to me, but both the crowd and the band really loved what I did. I think the beauty of supporting acts like these is that the crowds for them are very open minded when it comes to music, as long as it’s interesting.

In your description on the UnReaL website, you are described as a “post-physicality reborn as heat and sound” and the readers are invited to join, if language is insufficient to project their vision. These bits got stuck in my head the most, because the idea of immaterial, ethereal existence which is able to communicate mind to mind without words is something I personally dream about. How does the world and (post)human beings look like in your future?

Mind to mind communication would be fantastic, also travelling at the speed of light or maybe without a physical body. Actual physical augumentation of turning into every shape and color any time would be post-identity dream come true.

In the visuals accompanying your music, humans transform into cyborgs or they are replaced by H. R. Giger-like mecha organisms. Do you see technologies becoming “friends” with nature as Björk does, or do you feel like the machines will dominate the organic?

You see Giger in my visuals? Interesting reference. I surely loved Alien…
The way that you pose the question, it sounds like technology would decide whether to befriend the organic or domineer it. I wonder if it’s for technology to make this decision ;). Also, I don’t necessarily place technology as an “other”. All technology is a human product. So in a way, all technology is human and all humans are already post-human – as they augmented their bodies with technology since day one.

And whilst I am certainly questioning the development of certain types of technology – weapons, drones, complete surveillance etc., I also welcome and embrace technology: solar panels, pacemakers, titanium limbs, glasses, sex toys, 3D printers, Internet, libraries etc. I think humans tend to be wary of everything new. I recently read a Plato pamphlet again the technology of the written book VS the benefit of the spoken word, so apparently humans have always struggled with and for the new at the same time.

Born In Flamez »Polymorphous« from René Lange on Vimeo.

As a post-gender and post-genre artist, how do you perceive the concept of identity? What creates identity in your view?

Identity used to be some kind of a grid system that helped to label and register something/ someone. A very rigid system hard to break away from. But post-digital identities completely revolutionized the concept. You can be anything you like, you can even have different identities at the same point of time. We shape our digital images to match what we want them to be in order to fit the mood that we feel like in a certain moment.

Our dating app profiles look a lot different to the ones on Linked.In (or other job portals) and can change to the complete opposite each moment. Neuroscientific approaches have have found that the self is an illusion created by certain parts of the brain, so we can keep memories in place and don’t get too confused when we wake up each morning. I guess without a certain sense of self, it’s hard to be, but on the other hand a more communal sense of self would surely help our planet.

For more, BIF has a free download on XLR8R, heralding a collaboration with Berlin’s Modeselektor:

Interview mit Robert Henke (Deutsch)

Weep Web by Christopher Bauder | Skywire

Ich habe auch in Deutsch schreiben zu angefangen. Dieses Interview habe ich anlässig des CTM Festivals und Henke’s Deep Web Performance für [030] Magazin geführt. — Friday

Deep Web | Skywire

Deep Web, eine kinetische audiovisuelle Installation von Robert Henke und Christopher Bauder, ist eines der Höhepunkte des Begleitprogramms des CTM Festivals. Die riesige Installation füllt den Raum des Kraftwerks mit einer 3D Laserstruktur aus. Eine Multi-Channel Komposition dient als Soundgewand des Lichtkunstwerkes. Wir sprachen mit dem Urheber der Deep Web Installation, Robert Henke.

Robert, kannst du Deep Web kurz vorstellen – was ist die Idee/das Konzept dahinter?

Eine Matrix aus 175 Kugeln, die sich jeweils an einer computergesteuerten Seilwinde befinden und sehr schnell und präzise in verschiedene Höhen fahren können, werden von bis zu zwölf Lasern angestrahlt. Nebel im Raum macht die Strahlen sichtbar. Was visuell erfahrbar wird, sind durch Linien verbundene, bewegliche Punkte im Raum. Das Ganze ist sehr dynamisch, verschränkt, farblich intensiv und dreidimensional. Wir erzeugen ein sich permanent neu konfigurierendes Netz aus Objekten im Raum, verbunden durch Licht.

Inwiefern kommt die Musik bei der Installation ins Spiel?

Die klangliche Komponente ist sehr cinematisch angelegt, es geht darum dem immateriellen Licht eine deutliche physische Komponente durch tiefe Bässe hinzuzufügen und auch um generelle Strukturierung und Akzentuierung im Sinne einer Komposition. Zudem öffnet der Klang einen weiteren emotionalen Zugriff auf das Werk. Insgesamt geht es uns um eine sinnliche Erfahrung. Der Rest ist Interpretation und darf auch gerne offen sein. Der Titel legt das Thema Internet nahe, und die Assoziation von Knotenpunkten und Verbindungen im Netz sind sehr offenkundig, aber wer Neuronen darin sehen will oder jede andere Art von Verknüpfungen darf das gerne tun.

Wie ist es technisch umgesetzt?

Technisch ist Deep Web extrem ambitioniert, vor allem was die Synchronisation der Bewegung der Kugeln mit den Lasern angeht, hierfür wurde von WhiteVoid in Verbindung mit LaserAnimation Sollinger einiges speziell entwickelt. Die Verknüpfung der visuellen Ebene mit dem mehrkanaligen Sound ist dagegen schon fast banal. Es beruht auf einem System, das ich für eine ältere Performance mit Christopher bereits entwickelt hatte.

Du sprichst es an, deine Steckenpferde ist die Entwicklung von Softwares und Hardware, genauer von Instrumenten. Bist du für Deep Web neue Wege gegegangen?

Bei Deep Web ist mein Anteil an der technischen Seite erfreulicherweise gering. Ich fokusiere mich ganz auf den strukturellen Ablauf, also die Komposition. Für die Erstellung der Klänge greife ich natürlich auch auf eigene Instrumente zurück. Letztendlich ist auch Ableton Live zu einem wesentlichen Teil ein ‚eigenes Instrument‘. Aber es geht mir hier ganz klar vor allem um ein Arbeiten mit den Werkzeugen, nicht um die Entwicklung derselben.

Mit Christopher Bauder hats du bereist die Installation – “Atom” umgesetzt. Was hat euch wieder zusammengeführt?

Wir besuchen das gleiche Café. (lacht) Im Ernst, Christopher schätzt an der Arbeit mit mir, daß ich technisch strukturell denken kann. Ich liefere nicht ‚die Musik‘ ab, sondern erarbeite mit ihm ein System, das Klang, Bewegung und Licht zusammen führt. Wir Beide befüllen es dann mit Inhalten. Da sind wir ein gutes Team. Ich wiederum mag seine ambitionierte Haltung zu großen Projekten. Ich weiss, er wird es hinbekommen, egal wie aufwendig es ist. Das macht großen Spass.

Du hast schon ein Paar mal vorher mit Lasertechnik gearbeitet. Wie auch Musik ist es ein “Material” das man nicht anfassen kann. Was inspiriert dich an der Arbeit mit solch nicht greifbaren Elementen?

Das Medium Laser ist sehr beschränkt. Man muss sehr reduziert denken, Laserstrahlen können nur mechanisch bewegt werden. Das Arbeiten ist langsam. Zudem kommen Laserstrahlen immer genau aus einer Richtung. Und weil das alles so sehr beschränkt ist, werden kleine Details sehr wichtig. Mit Video oder elektronischen Klängen ist mittlerweile einfach alles in jeder Größe und Komplexität machbar. Laser ist da sehr erfrischend in der Reduktion.

Auf der CTM Website wird Deeb Web als “ein Ballet aus schillerndem kinetischen Licht und Surround-Sound” beschrieben. Ist das Licht wirklich schillernd? Wenn ja, wie kann so etwas erreicht werden?

Laserlicht ist schon sehr speziell. Extrem dünne helle Strahlen, die auch in sehr reinen Farben verfügbar sind, das kann man mit keinem anderen Medium erzeugen. Der schillernde Eindruck entsteht unter anderem durch das Auftreffen des Lichts auf Staubteilchen. Das hat eine ganz besondere Magie.

Deep Web Planung | Skywire
Robert Henkes Photo aus der Planung

New Label Series #4: Holotone

Holotone | Skywire

New Label Series for CDM is about pitching emerging record labels or platforms which seem promising and unique. Every piece features an interview with label founder(s) and sometimes also with releasing artist(s) and with my own observations as well as questions, I try to grasp the main interests and key qualities of each imprint. The fourth article from January is dedicated to Holotone.

I interviewed Daniele Antezza about Holotone about 8 month after our previous interview for DJB about his platform Undogmatisch (read here). The original article includes an exclusive Holotone Mix for CDM by Alexander Stone. — Friday

Daniele Antezza Holotone | Skywire

Apart from his work as a half of Dadub and his mastering output with Artefacts Mastering studio, Daniele Antezza produces personal and spiritual musical experiments under his Inner8 moniker. Recently, the producer has founded his own imprint called Holotone, which refers to nothing less than the holographic principle from string theory.

Antezza isn’t just pulling in some already established artists or limiting himself narrowly to genre. Instead, with Holotone, he has created a space for musical ideas outside current club trends, embracing experimentation, innovation, and outstanding sound design skills. For a closer look at Holotone’s musical direction, you can have a listen to Inner8’s new EP Tetramorph, the first record of Holotone, which will be released on March 21st and which features a collaboration with Japanese-born, Thailand-based artist Koichi Shimizu.

If you’re in Berlin on January 30th, you can attend the Holotone showcase at Kantine am Berghain. Apart from Inner8 himself, the event will present live sets of GRÜN and Ina Ynoki from Dromoscope, Sofus Forsberg and Alexander Stone, and DJ sets by Linus Gabrielsson and S13 alias Secret Thirteen’s founder Justinas Mikulskis. In our interview, Antezza is delving into the metaphysics of theoretical astrophysics, explains why art should bypass the cognitive traps of our hyper-mediated era, and describes the label’s foundation and possible future directions.

CDM: Where exactly does come Holotone from?

Holotone is the association of 2 words: “holo”, which comes from my fascination with the Holographic Universe Principle (which briefly assumes that we can conceive our universe, at macroscopic level, as a 4D video display made of subatomic pixels of information), and the English word “tone”. The Holographic Universe Principle was announced about 40 years ago. Recently, a team of researchers at Fermilab (America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory), is studying the holographic theory using a machine called “Holometer”, which is:

    “…a new kind of instrument designed to study the quantum character of space itself. It measures the quantum coherence of location with unprecedented precision. Laser light passing through an arrangement of mirrors will show whether space stands still, or whether it always jitters by a tiny amount, carrying all matter with it, due to quantum-geometrical fluctuations. We call this new property of space time ‘holographic noise’.” (https://holometer.fnal.gov)

The primary aim of the experiment is that if holographic noise will be proven, we’ll be in front of an element that should help the accuracy of the holographic conception of our universe. It is exactly the “holographic noise theory” that gave me the intuition to name my label “Holotone.” From my point of view, the sound can be metaphorically compared to something which can show to our consciousness that reality is often not what it seems to be, exactly as the holographic noise could hypothetically reveal the holographic nature of our universe.

When I looked at the name “Holotone” for the first time, I thought it meant “holistic tone.” Is a holistic approach, that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts,” something you adopted?

This is a really interesting point of view, I must say. I like to refer to the holistic approach as something that interprets the whole as “other” than the sum of its parts, rather than “more.” So, according to this specification – yes, the holistic approach has played an important conceptual role in leading my imagination to conceive Holotone, especially from an aesthetic point of view.

You have a new EP, released on your new label with new vision. Did you have in mind what you want the EP to be about and how the four tracks should relate to each other before you started working on it?

Even if the concept behind Tetramorph EP is something I was thinking about for at least one year, while the four tracks have just recently produced — I haven’t worked on the sound composition following any conceptual frame. When I produce my music, I usually let my instinct be free to explore the realm of creativity. So, when I feel that I created something that I consider artistically meaningful, I look for a conceptual framework to boost and enrich the narrative I want to express.

I feel that the sound of Tetramorph EP is very different from my solo debut album, where I basically collected sketches conceived during past few years. This time, I rather wanted to achieve more homogeneous, fresh and mature level in my sound design, so I used a hardware setup controlled by Ableton Live and I worked following a “live rec” approach. I guess it’s because of this reason that I haven’t linked any specific theoretical concept to the creation of my recent sound experiments.

In ‘Self Determination’, the first track from Tetramorph, you use a field recording of a marketplace from the Middle East. It reminded me of your first LP, where you also use field recordings from East, particularly India. Where do the samples in ‘Self Determination’ come from and why do you like using the authentic Eastern influence in your music?

The direct link with my debut album is absolutely true, because “Self Determination” is the first track I produced after that. It represents my first attempt to experiment with new production techniques, trying to keep my aesthetic coherent with what I have done so far.

The sample is taken from field recordings made in Africa during the 70’s by the musicologist David Fanshawe, and the one I used is supposed to be recorded in Egypt. Regarding my Eastern music influences, I really do not know where they come from, because it’s an element that comes out naturally when I compose my sounds. I just know that when I’ve listened to that music for the first time, I felt such a deep emotion. I was literally enchanted and blown away by the percussion grooves and by the hypnotic power of it.

The fourth track of the EP called ‘Aufhebung’ is made in collaboration with Japanese sound artist and producer Koichi Shimizu. How did you two meet and how was working together? Will he be releasing some music of his own on Holotone as well?

I got in touch with Koichi Shimizu a few months ago because of a mutual friendship. He sent me his album “Otolary” released for his own label Revirth, which I found really beautiful because of its ability to express a complex sound design using a meaningful and elegant artistic language in an impeccable way. In that period of time, I was working on the Holotone launch and on my Tetramorph EP, so I proposed Koichi to make a track together: he accepted and we were sharing our sounds via Internet until Aufhebung took form, fusing our aesthetics.

It has been a fruitful collaboration, because I really like his approach. He will be the author of the second Holotone EP and we’ll share the stage in Bangkok and Tokyo for the Holotone Asia Showcase in February. I hope to jam live with him when I’ll be in Thailand.

What about Undogmatisch? It’s your former label and a platform through which you organized event in Berlin. Is it still alive, or did you make “Aufhebung” with it to create new space for a new project?

I decided to leave the project Undogmatisch a few months ago, because at one point it became incompatible with my job organization and I really don’t know how and if the project is evolving at the moment. Holotone is not an evolution or transformation of Undogmatisch, because I wanted to create something totally new and easier to manage, so I did not make any kind of “Aufhebung”.

What I want to do now, apart from my usual work for Artefacts Mastering, Dadub and Inner8, is to stay focused on my activity as a label manager. After the Tetramorph EP, I will release Koichi Shimizu and other artists, and I’m honestly really looking forward to it. Holotone is basically a record label, and I will sometimes organize label showcases in Berlin and hopefully all around the world.

According to you, Holotone’s mission is to communicate “using an unmediated language (art) to express the complexity of our hyper-mediated world”. Would you elaborate on this? And are there some specific patterns or ways you use in your music production for expressing such a complicated topic, such as self-generating sounds or repeating beat structures?

I think that art has an intrinsic power to bypass our usual cognitive frameworks, due to its timeless dimension, an aspect that risks to disappear if we conceive art as a form of business or to celebrate the artists’ ego. If you think about music, for example, it just “recently” in the human history became a matter of mere entertainment, because earlier, it used to be used as something close to rather mystic-cathartic dimension than related to coolness, hype and career.

Even though the conception and the creation of a piece of art often implies a certain degree of complexity; the magic of art lies, in my opinion, in its ability to communicate something to a human being using a non-mediated language, triggering feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions useful for what I call an existential liberation path.

We’re all living in the era of media and globalzsation, so the information, the knowledge and also our view of the world is mediated in each aspect, for many reasons actually. In my opinion, the main one is related to the dynamics of power and domination of our society. To translate all this into an aesthetic domain, I have quite the same vision as you do, because when the use of certain techniques like generative sounds and algorithmic composition is able to create a meaningful piece of art, it means that we might be able to talk a direct language, bypassing all the cognitive traps of our era.

In the interview from the last year, you mentioned you’d like to get rid of Ableton in your production as Inner8. Have you managed to do that, and has your setup for recording and playing live changed since 2015?

After that interview, I continued to work on giving my production techniques a new dimension, and I can now correct my sentence saying that for my live performances, I’d like to get rid of the laptop in general, not just Ableton Live. My recent set up is much more hardware-oriented, even though I will never abandon certain techniques achievable only by the use of computers, like spectral synthesis for example. Ableton still plays a fundamental role in terms of control source, e.g. what you can get with a few clicks. A good Max4Live patch and a MIDI controller is simply priceless in terms of creativity.

At the moment, the main difference from my 2015 set up is that instead of devolving just effects management over to hardware machines, this year I also included beats and synth, so Ableton triggers just few loops and manages all the MIDI routing and the real time MIDI controls. My approach does not follow the vexata quaestio about digital/analog, because my aim is to create music using the best characteristics of both domains, often hybridizing them. The reason why I like to perform Inner8 live sets avoiding a prominent role of the computer is because it helps me to carefully choose the alternatives I need. The theoretical infinity of possibilities of a computer has too often risked to block my creative flow, at least from a psychological point of view.

On your Holotone showcase and label launch night in Berlin, you will play next to Sofus Forsberg from Mindwaves Music, Grün and Ina Ynoki from Dromoscope, S13 and few fresh names who have Holotone as their label in brackets: Alexander Stone from Italy and Linus Gabrielsson from Sweden. It seems like you were choosing the artists for Holotone very carefully. What were the most important things about each artist that made you decide whether they’re suitable for Holotone?

Yes it’s true, I’ve carefully chosen the artists I invited to play for the 1st Holotone Showcase in Berlin, and I’m actually very excited to share the stage with all of them, because of the high quality level of their acts and because of the friendship and respect we have for each other. They all have represented specific and precise meanings in my artistic path during the last years in Berlin: I’ve always admired Sofus for his ability to express deep and true emotions with his complex systems of music production, Grün and Ina Ynoki for their revolutionary approach to sound and live performance, and S13 because of his impeccable and unique taste and for his integrity as an artist and a curator.

Alexander Stone and Linus Gabrielsson, even though they’re unknown names, have both a deep background in music production, audio engineering and sound design. I’ve shared so many ideas and visions about music, world, universe and existence with them, plus endless talks about sound design. So when I got the idea to organize this Holotone Showcase, I thought about involving them immediately. I’d like also to mention Cubert (Martina Scala), a very talented visual artist who’s supporting Holotone with all her skills, and sYn (Federico Nitti) who’s working in Australia at the moment, but he’ll join the project as he’ll be back to Berlin.

The first thing which I really look for when selecting artists for Holotone is the ability to use an artistic language free from any trends and hype, because I want authentic visions. Another element I admire is the ability to express the beauty of art through an intelligent sound design. In general, I like anarchist approach.

And last but not least – what are your plans with Holotone and the artists mentioned above?

My plans are to release quality music and to organize showcases to share the visions behind Holotone with people. Regarding the artists I invited to the label launch event, I really hope to release their music in the near future.

Interview with sound artist Jonáš Gruska

Elektrosluch | Skywire

I interviewed Jonáš Gruska last November because of workshop followed by CDM event which took place at Platoon Kunsthalle in December. He’s a sound artist, microphone and listening devices creator (Uši, Elektrosluch) and LOM label founder. Also, he’s really talented in field recordings – not only has he brilliant ideas, but is lucky enough to capture amazing sounds. Read and listen for yourself.

Jonáš Gruska | Skywire

What is your approach as a sound artist? Do you listen and record for the experience of a concentrated listening itself, or for sharing sounds from your favorite places with others, or do you use your recordings in our musical projects as well? Or something else?

Over the years, I have discovered that there is no unifying way I like to do things. Sometimes I record for the sheer timbral quality of certain sounds, their rhythms or melodies; at other times, I use the field recording as a type of documentary work. As you mention, I also use my recordings in compositions, where I combine them with my own input (either synthetic of acoustic).

I have to say my favorite field recording of yours are Zvuky Slovnaftu – partly also because you are the only person among the angry sleepless crowd who found a certain beauty in all that mess, and also because of the nice, low frequencies of an industrial fire, merged with the soothing sounds of nature. How did you record this — which devices did you use?

For those who don’t know, Slovnaft is a oil refinery based at the outskirts of Bratislava. It is known for foul smells and disturbing noises. One day, I heard these unusual, deep rhythmic noises coming from that area. These noise were heard even in the center of the city. Apparently, it was due to some unusual activity, causing huge flame bursts from the refinery’s flare stacks.

It was very much impromtpu recording session, I wanted to be sure that I catch the opportunity. Rode my bike there in the middle of the night, found a good spot and hit record.

The setup I used is a special foam block I made, fitted with two pairs of microphone capsules in parallel. The foam block arrangement is named SASS and it allows one to capture very realistic stereo image with omni-directional microphones. I love the way it records quiet ambiances.

The recorder I used was a Sound Devices 702.

You mostly perform. How do your performances look (sound) like? And how do you choose places for site-specific performances?

Most of the time, the places choose me. I am asked by various curators and promoters to try and make something specific for their space. So far, it always worked out very well. I love the idea of creating my work to exact dimensions of space, its imperfections and resonances.

How will you approach the site-specific performance at Platoon Kunsthalle 2nd December?

My plan for Platoon is to try to make a composition/performance for the metallic walls surrounding the main concert hall. I will be using them as speakers, emitting sound from my custom made software, programed at spot.

You’ve founded the LOM label and you do mastering for many of the albums. Since the music varies a lot on these recordings, how do you choose and gather the right artists for the label — how would you define it?

We’re actually a small collective of people and we discuss releases together. Basically, we don’t limit our releases genre-wise, but we focus on the approaches musicians have towards making music. We love people who experiment, cross boundaries and don’t focus all that much on following certain hypes or predefined ways. There is also field recording edition “FIELDS,” which I curate on my own.

Recently, LOM also became a platform for creating new music software and hardware instruments. Who’s behind each of the instruments created?

At the moment, I am the sole designer of these, but there are some instruments in development by my colleague Anagakok Thoth (both hardware and software). At the moment all instrument sold are assembled by us or by robots.

Your microphones, Uši and Uši Pro (uši means “ears” in Slovak) are sold out. What do you think is the biggest reason they’ve got so popular?

It is hard to talk about your own product without sounding like a salesman, but I honestly love these for field recording. The reason is that they are very small, low-noise, and cheap enough. I am not afraid to experiment with these in various situations, drop them in unknown holes or put them in danger. This allows one to discover new recording techniques and methods for approaching the sound in untraditional way. But obviously, they can be used for regular recordings too.

There are new batches of these planned for next year.

How did the idea for Elektrosluch develop, and how was it designed?

I believe it started in 2011, when I saw a performances by Chris Galarreta and Daniel Davidovsky at Audio Art festival in Kraków, Poland. At that moment, I was working with sonification of wireless networks using various hacked tools. Both of these performers were using electromagnetic fields as parts of their performances. The idea got stuck in my head, and a year after that, I designed my own circuit. It was using old cassette tape heads as the sensor. This head was attached to a little preamplifier of my design and allowed me to experiment with the idea a little more.

Short after that, my friends asked me to build some of these for various artistic projects they had, and it slowly grew to an edition of around 25 devices. The construction was very “DIY” and unprofessional-looking, but it did the job.

With growing interest, I designed a second version and decided to crowd-fund it through Indiegogo. The campaign was successful — I raised twice the amount of the funding required. Amongst the people who ordered it I even found Alessandro Cortini. There were around 200 units sold, worldwide.

Last year, I started working on version 3, which has recently sold out as well. Its casing was designed by a wonderful artist from the US named Birch Cooper, who I met during his tour through Bratislava. It’s the most advanced version so far.

You prepared a smaller version of Elektrosluch for our workshop December 1st at Platoon Kunsthalle. What’s the difference between Elektrosluch 3 and Elektrosluch Mini?

The main difference is the lack of casing and the external input. Otherwise, the circuit is identical.