Frontiers, borders, demarcations – words that may be seen as a challenge by some, who desire to immediately transcend or erase such notions through their ravenous, omnivourous appetite. Others, however, strategically impose their own limits, be it from a set of questions to answer, a set of methodologies or aesthetics to explore and refine, or from the choice of materials or instruments used, thus consciously scaling back limitless horizons of choice they are faced with in order to create a starting point within a self-defined universe of possibilities.
The artists here have all set their own frontiers, pushing them in directions that would be unimaginable without limitations to exactingly pursue. Although each works in his own sphere, they intersect with one another in multiple ways due to a common rigour taken in exploring the materiality of sound, the grains and textures that so sharply come out in minimalist works, and the effects and challenges of using limited sound sources.
Using their obsession with company logos as a starting point, Diamond Version explore Daily Short Message Information Culture, their phrase to describe the relentless slogans we are bombarded with: “We collected these slogans and started reading them, without knowing the companies. In this amount and concentration they become absurd”. Plunging Raster-Noton’s classic, ascetic, minimalistic aesthetic straight into the heart of corporate culture, they are joined by Atsuhiro Ito, who has carved out a light/sound performance niche using the Optron, a fluorescent light tube, as an instrument. Sound is packaged in an entirely different way by Emptyset, who examine grain and silence through analogue compressors, amplified by Joanie Lemercier’s play with particles of light. Bringing in an orchestra of 808s, 606s, and 303s, TM404 digs into the range of effects and challenges of classic hardware, while Opium Hum’s hazy drones round out the night.
The performances of Diamond Version, Emptyset, and TM404 will reverberate in the Panorama Bar later this same night, courtesy of the Soundwalk Collective. Using custom made contact sensors that are carefully-placed on the building’s various components, the Collective captures the vibrations produced from the performing artists' sets, thus capturing the venue’s resonant structures. The Berghain itself becomes a musical filter and instrument as these resonances are processed and played-back in real-time. This intervention is part of Soundwalk Collective's ongoing projekt Last Beat, that resonates the architecture of the Berghain, playing the material structure of the building as a musical instrument.
Atsuhiro Ito, a visual artist, began exploring sound in 1998 and has carved out a light/sound performance niche using a fluorescent light tube as an instrument. He ran Tokyo’s now-defunct venue Off Site – home to the Onkyo movement – until 2005 and set up his own label, Gotobai recordings, in 2009.
Opium Hum aka Michail Stangl – CTM co-curator, organizer of Boiler Room Berlin, initiator of Berghain's ≠ (not equal) series, co-organizer of the Leisure System parties and all-around progressive force on the Berlin club scene – nourishes his DJ sets via sombre, hazy drones and fantastical soundscapes permeated by deep and shifting rhythms to create what can only be called a waking dream.
Emptyset is the the Bristol-based project of James Ginzburg and Paul Purgas, whose work across production, performance, installation, and the moving image tests the perceptual boundaries between noise and music. Since forming in 2005, Emptyset has continued to pursue the reduction or deconstruction of music to its most unadulterated form; densely technical, their work employs analogue gear to sculpt sine waves and white noise.
Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) and Byetone (Olaf Bender), co-founders of Germany’s peerless experimental imprint Raster-Noton, debut Diamond Version, a recording and live performance project signed to London’s Mute Records, that evolved from impromptu encores while touring, and a shared obsession with corporate idioms and company logos.
French visual artist Joanie Lemercier has a background in graphic design, and started using video projection when he moved to Bristol (UK) in 2005. After a few years doing classic VJing in clubs and festival around the city, he started experiments: projections onto onto folded paper, transparent netting, concrete buildings, geodesic domes, steel and plaster structures, everything but a flat rectangular screen.
TM404 is the new live project by Andreas Tilliander aka Mokira, an artist with a strong interest in analog music machines. With releases on Kontra-Musik, Raster-Noton and Type Tilliander’s output ranges from minimalistic techno to noise infused drone-dub.
Audio-visual artist Carsten Nicolai, cofounder of raster-noton, uses names Alva Noto, Noto, and Aleph-1 for works that cross the spectrums of music production, live performance, sound art, sculpture, video, and curation. Nicolai’s work emphasizes processes and working methodologies, the intersections of art and science, and the tensions between polarities.
Soundwalk Collective is an international art collective based both in New York City and Berlin. Since the year 2000, they have been sonic nomads, exploring and documenting places from the desolation of the Rub’ al Khali to the coasts of the Black Sea.