RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

Festival Report/ Echtzeitmusiktage 2010 Part 3

img  Tobias Fischer

Jan Jelinek's Groupshow rocked. The three members gathered in the middle of the hall around a table full of various equipment—the table was filmed from above and screened behind them. Looking at them and their no-look look, you thought they were the very picture of a trio of nerds and you didn't expect their music to be such a pleasure to hear: playful, inventive, irresistible.

During the first half, the formation seemed to play with their instruments as though they were toys, building childish melodies out of little bleeps twinkling on top of cleverly layered uplifting beats and granular sounds. These bits of melodies were assembled by scratching and plucking the strings of Andrew Pekler's tabletop guitar and a small device played by Jelinek. In the meantime, drummer Hanno Leichtmann made apparently simple yet catchy beats, kicking drum pads and cymbals with drum sticks and two silly hand-shaped plastic clappers. Then the music resembled a modern version of a classic track by Neu!, neverending, evergrowing, even more danceable and motoric. Watching the sparse audience around the table strangely reluctant to move to the rhythm, I initially thought of the trio bringing this kind of music into clubs. But at this precise moment, two guys decided to remove their jackets and dance as though they were high on acid. I smiled and a couple of minutes later these guys, apart from being out of their mind, didn't seem at all out of context.

After half an hour of this mesmerizing display of skills, the music began to include expanding harsh noise and to get less danceable. What you heard in the end sounded like the sonic remains of a decayed punk tape. The strange thing about this IDM full of lo-fi effects is that it all sounded DIYish and quickly patched together, and yet very well-done at the same time; the kind of feeling you actually rarely get. Their last album The Martyrdom of Groupshow, despite being made of live session excerpts, does not contain such a spontaneous playfulness. I heard they are used to perform without time limit, which gives freedom to the group and the audience. I almost cannot imagine a 7-hour gig that could be as brilliant all the way through but you can count me in.

I had planned to attend the last two gigs the next week but I was too sick to go. Consequently, there is some space left here for a more general opinion about the festival. Comparing 2010's Echtzeitmusiktage to last year's event named TITO (The International Turnable Orchestra) makes sense. Also produced by Ignaz Schick's Zangi Music, it featured some of the best improv/experimental turntablists (see review here) and combined solo, small or large one-off formations, compositions or improvisations: all in four busy days and one big institutional venue in West Berlin: the Akademie der Künste. People did come to the festival, but maybe not enough. Sitting in the large hall with lots of empty seats around, I remember having wished for a more intimate location.

It looks like the organizers have improved many things this year. Echtzeitmusiktage's concerts took place in five different venues situated in the creative center of the German capital: four in East Berlin, one in Kreuzberg—with Neukölln, Kreuzberg is the most East-minded and cosmopolitan district in West Berlin. The free spirit was definitely alive: most musicians, craving for exciting and unlikely collaborations, took part in more than one concert (not necessarily of the same genre), although no band appeared twice. And more important, the venues were smaller, intimate, adapted, and relatively packed with people. It was nice to see everyone everywhere, Thomas Ankersmit attending Stephan Mathieu's concert, Chris Abrahams or Burkhard Beins at Vladislav Delay Quartet's. The festival was the occasion to know or go further into Berlin's underground scene, which seems to create and sustain friendly relations with Italian, Swiss and Australian artists in particular. It's a small world—but it's not autarchic.

By Antoine Richard

Antoine Richard maintains the Blog „Happily the Future“ dealing with Experimental and Contemporary Art.

Image by Nelly Rodriguez/David Wolschlag.

Homepage: Echtzeitmusiktage 2010
Homepage: Jan Jelinek
Homepage: Andrew Pekler
Homepage: Groupshow

Related articles

Concert Review: Sand Snowman & Fear Falls Burning
Live at the Tonefloat Label ...
Concert Report: Quarrel Quartet
Live at Schloss vor Husum, ...
Concert Report: Klaus Schulze & Lisa Gerrard & Solar Moon System
Live at Schillertheater, Berlin, November ...
Concert Report: Merzbow & Richard Pinhas & Das Synthetische Mischgewebe
Live at Stadtgarten, Cologne, November ...
Concert Review: VNV Nation
Live performance at the Axis, ...

Partner sites