CTM 2014 includes a special focus on the PAN label. Founded in 2008, the label does not subscribe to a singular style; rather, it identifies unorthodox expressive voices from different generations, bringing them into dialogue and exploring their intersections and the ways they reference one another. Curated together with label head Bill Kouligas, PAN’s presence spans various events over the festival week.
Much like other artists on the PAN continuum, Rashad Becker’s work falls too far outside a mapped trajectory of sound or style to easily identify stylistic reference points or clear links to other artists or cultural movements. Becker’s debut album, Traditional Music of a Notional Species, Vol. 1, is an anthropology of an imagined cultural body, informed by numerous tropes and tribes of sound but bound to no singularly comprehensible aesthetic idea.
For others on the label, the influences of past or current musical trends and genres inspire, but are reworked into new forms. When archival materials or contemporary cultural artifacts are combined or arranged against discursive elements in new configurations, new ideas suggest themselves. New PAN signee M.E.S.H. mines pop culture for source material, and both Regis and Russell Haswell’s new project Concrete Fence and Helena Hauff push the resurgence of noisy acid techno. Hauff - who appears at CTM solo and as Hypnobeat and has released on PAN as Black Sites with F#X - and Italian experimentalist Valerio Tricoli both modify the technical limitations of their equipment to achieve their sound, extracting unprecedented ranges from vintage synths and analogue gear.
The PAN label focus at CTM 2014 also presents artists whose work can readily be classified within dance music, but who actively challenge the parameters of the genre, testing their flexibility. Kouligas favourited UK artist Beneath (forthcoming on PAN) in an interview with The Guardian, describing his track “Bored #2” as “Completely abstracted acid basslines in a freeform, almost Hancock mid-80s vibe, filtered through some grime methods too. Entirely beatless yet fully geared towards the dancefloor.”
PAN also nourishes an ongoing relationship with visual arts and design. Virtuosic percussionist and composer Eli Keszler’s Cold Pin release on the label documents a live sound gallery piece, comprising a large-scale piano wire installation and accompanying composition for cello, drums, guitar, and trumpet. CTM 2014 will feature a new installation from the New York-based artist concurrently with a live performance.
The PAN special focus also creates opportunities to think critically about contemporary culture. Label collaborator Mat Dryhurst will lead a workshop on his Anonymonths experimental publishing concept within the CTM / transmediale collaborative programme at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, which pivots around the assumption that those with the most powerful opinions about contemporary culture also stand to lose the most by voicing them. The workshop invites artists, curators, and thinkers to anonymously contribute critiques and opinions on contemporary culture, creating a powerful opportunity to ask difficult questions and break from consensus through a combination of invisibility and credibility.