Since its early days, CTM Festival has featured music and art that acts as a mirror for social and political conditions. Our 2018 theme, Turmoil, builds on the insights of 2017’s Fear Anger Love, and continues its inquiry into the potential of sound and music to invigorate resilience and awareness at a time when we have begun normalising the ongoing barrage of political, social, and environmental crises and the resulting disquiet that resonates through our on- and offline lives.
CTM 2018 Turmoil explores the state of music and sound practice in the face of a confusing and critical present: What is the sound of turmoil? What are aesthetics of tumult? Which other sonic and musical responses could we conceive of to counter the current overload of agitation? As it inquires into these questions, this CTM edition also renews and strengthens a commitment to welcoming a wide range of artists and audiences with diverse backgrounds.
From 26 January – 4 February 2018, CTM 2018 returns to its constellation of exciting nightlife and cultural venues in Berlin, including HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Berghain, YAAM, and Festsaal Kreuzberg. A limited amount of CTM 2018 early-bird passes are now on sale.
First artists and projects confirmed for CTM 2018
With CTM Radio Lab commission winner
CTM 2018 will open with an homage to Julius Eastman – the mercurial gay African American composer who mixed canny minimalist innovation with head-on political provocation. Conceived for twin pianos, live electronics, and voice, this exhilarating sonic exploration led by Jace Clayton, a.k.a. DJ /rupture, brings fresh insight to Eastman’s artistic legacy. The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner is built around new arrangements of “Evil Nigger” (1979) and “Gay Guerrilla” (1980), two of Eastman's most important, if rarely performed, piano compositions. As Clayton uses his own custom-designed “Sufi Plug Ins” software to live-process the pianos of David Friend and Emily Manzo, he also intersperses musical vignettes – performed by neo-Sufi vocalist Arooj Aftab – to lend context and nuance to the composer's saga, which was cut short in 1990 at age 49.
Setting the stage for the festival’s opening concert will be multidisciplinary artist and researcher Zorka Wollny, who together with Andrzej Wasilewski will create a new work commissioned especially for the occasion using her "Vox Populi" installation as a starting point. With "Vox Populi", the artists used Tesla speakers to amplify the voices of inhabitants of an area of the Polish city of Gdansk undergoing intense gentrification, thus coupling the coil’s apparent danger with the energy of protest and unrest. Expanding to a wider European scale, their new work will be sung by two vocalists, each standing on opposite ends of the coil and exchanging lyrics in the form of high voltage electric sparks. The dangerous potential built through political polarization is discharged via disputing electrified voices.
A special emphasis on the intersection of music and dance will be ongoing at HAU – Hebbel am Ufer (HAU2) venue via focus points on pioneering artists and art forms. The story and legacy of choreographer, electronic music composer, improviser, dance therapist, and pedagogue Ernest Berk will be explored over three consecutive nights. Berk’s versatile, innovative career spanned decades and reflected deep involvement in leftist politics and non-Western aesthetics. The Cologne native’s pairing of modern dance with musique concrète is one of the most unusual stylistic combinations of the 20th century. As with so many artists of the time, Berk’s life and work were fundamentally shaped by the turbulent political climate: the Nazi suppression of leftist and Jewish intellectuals led to the exile of Berk and his wife Lotte (also a dancer, and Jewish) to Great Britain in the 1930s. In England, he was among the first wave of pioneering electronic composers and continued to develop an individualised style of dance rooted in ideas of social reform and freedom of expression. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Berk would return to Germany – this time to Berlin – though he never truly achieved widespread recognition here. In the project “The Complete Expressionist”, the celebrated Berlin choreographer Christoph Winkler will oversee the long-overdue reconstruction of Ernest Berk’s dance pieces and performances of selected musical compositions as live tape concerts. Twelve dancers and the renowned experimental musicians groupA and Rashad Becker with Pan Daijing will perform various pieces spanning Berk’s body of work, reinterpreting and exploring the intersection of dance and music. A short BBC film clip about Berk, select video art pieces, and talks by British experimental musician Ian Helliwell and theatre and dance researcher Patrick Primavesi will round out the presentations. Listening stations featuring Berk’s numerous compositions will also be installed in the HAU2 foyer. The project is kindly supported by the “Tanzfonds Erbe” of the Cultural Foundation of Germany.
In "FIVE Berlin", another multi-night showcase at HAU2 exploring the crossroads of movement and sound, multidisciplinary American artist Rashaad Newsome will investigate African, European, and North-American roots in the NYC underground dance tradition, vogueing. Accompanied by a makeshift orchestra comprised of NY-based Mc. Princess Mami Precious, baritone opera singer Justin Austin, and five local musicians, five dancers represent – and perform – each of the five individual elements of vogue femme. Using video game controllers and custom motion tracking software, Newsome maps and visualizes the movement patterns of dancers in real time. During the performance, drawing, music, dance, and technology collide and build into a beautifully structured crescendo of sound and movement. The project is kindly supported by the Capital Cultural Fund.
We’re thrilled to announce that restless nomad and no-wave feminist trailblazer Lydia Lunch will appear as part of Medusa’s Bed, which features two visionary collaborators: the experimental violinist Mia Zalbeka and the sound artist Zahra Mani. In the project, Lunch’s haunting, terrifying vocals, Zalbeka’s avant-violin stylings, and Mani’s psycho-ambient soundscapes are braided together into a sinister radiophonic murder mystery. Lunch, who makes it her business to “punch [her] way out of the trauma zone and into the light” (NY Times), and to encourage other women to do so, uses this outlet to externalise urges that “work through the body, on and across it: bloodlust and oblivion,... desire and rage” (Jack Sargeant). Cairo-based Nadah El Shazly, another courageous female voice, will perform in conjunction with the November release of her debut album, Ahwar, on Khyam Allami’s Nawa Recordings. Recorded with a band and produced together with Maurice Louca & Sam Shalabi, the album is an intricately woven and poetically powerful answer to the reactionary world around her, which her lyrics so eloquently portray in the line “I drown in a sea of saliva of lunatics”.
Belgian post-metal band Amenra will take the stage with a brooding, emotive style that grew out of experiences of loss and pain. The five-piece band is fronted by vocalist Colin van Eeckhout, who speaks openly about their music’s role as an outlet for “the things that cast a shadow over existence” – solitude, melancholy, sadness, demons, the certainty of death. Although the members all have a background in anti-establishment punk and straight-edge hardcore, the formation of Amenra went hand in hand with a decision to take a more personal direction – to keep things “closer to home.” Their CTM appearance marks the release of the latest addition to their Mass series, Mass VI, which was produced by Billy Anderson and released on Neurot Recordings, the label run by members of Neurosis. The album reflects on contrasts central to human existence – light and darkness, hope and despair – via disparate styles, from contemplative textures to sonic enormity.
We’re also excited to announce that the Turkish drummer and conceptual artist Cevdet Erek will give a solo performance at Berghain in association with the release of his first full-length LP, Davul, on Subtext. Erek’s innovations in percussion have been presented both in musical contexts (he is the long-time drummer of the Turkish experimental band Nekropsi) and within his own installations (at events like dOCUMENTA (13), Sydney Biennial, Istanbul Modern, the Istanbul Biennial, and this year's Venice Biennale), which construct site-specific immersive environments. In his performances, he plays a large drum known in Turkey as the davul, using an individually developed, idiosyncratic method that maximizes the textural profile of the sound. Erek’s improvisations reference the tradition of shamanic healing rituals as well – in his own words, he plays “to get the negative and aggressive away from inside of me, hoping that I could do the same for the other people surrounding me.” His CTM performance will act as a special ongoing exploration of the sonic and improvisational territories laid out in Davul.
Also joining the roster is the innovative Chicago footwork trailblazer Jana Rush, whose debut LP, Pariah, rang-in 2017 on Objects Ltd. and expertly integrates other influences (ghetto house, soul, acid, jungle) into a beloved dance-floor trope. For Washington D.C. native Reba Fay, the project Swan Meat acts as a platform via which to give voice to inner turmoil – she has experienced body dysmorphia and chronic illness first-hand. Fay uses spoken word, dancefloor-friendly moments, harsher, noisy sonics, and eerie processed vocals to externalise a hard-edged, inspired world of feeling in which "only music and text matter."
Mykki Blanco and NON Worldwide collaborator Violence is known for their ferocious spoken word and caustic fusion of black metal, punk, and sweeping industrial. With lyrical themes that resonate from earlier experiences growing up in Baltimore and from meditations on the intersections between cultures, their live shows are all-consuming, deeply personal, campy, and visionary in their stylistic hybridity.
Berlin “techno body music” source Schwefelgelb will play a home game at Berghain to mark the third pressing of their recent release, Dahinter Das Gesicht, on [aufnahme + wiedergabe]. The duo deliver militant, rousing, tumultuous neo-EBM refracted through the equally dark lens of techno. Their tracks have appeared in DJ sets by Silent Servant and Helena Hauff – now hear them live.
On one of our nights at Berghain, an entire dancefloor will be devoted to exploring the different threads of gabber and hardcore, including pioneering and newer sounds. While the hyper-affective (and hence hyper-effective), high-velocity stabs of gabber elicit turmoil on the dancefloor like hardly any other club sound, at its core the gabber scene has always been less about rage and much more about togetherness and social inclusion – qualities which, in light of the political and social developments of late, are more important than ever. Representing the Dutch old-school rave scene will be Steve Sweet aka Darkraver, whose singles “Intelligent Hardcore”, “Thunderground”, and “Kom Tie Dan Hè” are beloved classics that still energise the scene today. He first became famous for his flamboyant schtick behind the decks, which made use of props like batman costumes, wigs, and rubber hammers; decades later, his sophisticated mixing skills and versatile taste still secure his mainstay status at raves and mega-events worldwide. Early hardcore colleague DJ Panic began spinning accessible records before he was 16. He has toured the world with The Forze DJ Team (Paul Elstak, DJ Lars) and as part of duo, Hard Creation. Today he manages several hardcore labels, including Rotterdam Records, Neophyte Records, Forze Records, Terror Traxx, Seismic Records, and Tremble Tracks. KABLAM, who is known for her affiliations with collectives such as Janus and Staycore, will be one of the younger artists joining Darkraver and DJ Panic with a DJ set inspired by her love of this sound.
As always, the CTM 2018 programme will be built on two pillars: first-hand experience and critical reflection. Club events and concerts will be complemented by daytime offerings of broad-ranging discourse and debate. Assembled under the Transfer umbrella, the daytime programme consists of the Discourse series of lectures, talks, workshops, and screenings. Transfer also encompasses the MusicMakers Hacklab, created with Peter Kirn (CDM). This year it will be co-hosted by artist/programmer Ioann Maria Stacewicz as it takes on the "Hacked Mind" theme. We are also looking for junior researchers/students and emerging artists working in sound and related fields, that wish to share their ideas and findings at the Research Networking Day, created with Humboldt University's Chair of Transcultural Musicology. Both the MusicMakers Hacklab and Research Networking Day have current open calls for participants, with a common application deadline of 30 November.
This year, CTM 2018 will team up with MONOM, Berlin’s new centre for spatial sound, to present a collaborative programme in 4DSOUND. Their special CTM programme will be revealed in our next announcement. Of note to local Berliners, MONOM will open their doors with a launch event of their own on 1 December at Funkhaus Berlin.
As in previous years, CTM Festival will take place parallel to and in collaboration with transmediale – festival for art and digital culture, which will hold its 31th edition under the "face value" theme. In the weeks before the two festivals, the 8th edition of Vorspiel, a city-wide programme in which over 45 Berlin-based initiatives and venues invite the public to a series of exhibition openings, performances, interventions, artist talks and special events, will be launched on 19 January. An open call for Vorspiel proposals is open now, until 20 November 2017.
Stay tuned for the second CTM 2017 announcement in November. The full CTM 2017 programme will be available in January 2017.