Summertime may conjure images of Ibiza and middle-of-the-road festivals in Europe and America, “summer jams” and the musical equivalent of the beach book. And there’s nothing wrong with that; anyone who would deny people the pleasure of listening and dancing to music they love is kind of a jerk. But this stereotype can also obscure a simple fact: music at the edges, music falling under the broad umbrella of “experimental” is actually becoming remarkably popular.
What’s beautiful about “big tent” experimentalism is that it can encompass a broad range of music. Musicians playing clubs no longer fear angular sounds and asymmetrical beats, just as academics no longer consider a discernible bar or – gasp – even four bass drums hitting the floor a sin against humanity.
And best for all concerned – whether lonely musicians or music fans actually trying to get someone out on a date – the venues are full.
I think in an interconnected world such trends will know no geography, but Berlin is certainly demonstrating the possibilities. Next up here is three solid lineups of music at Krake Festival. Tonight that starts with a night headlined by Untold, with live sets from Phon.o (recently signed to 50weapons), killekill’s Bill Youngman, and Dasha Rush, plus DJ sets from terrifically-talented artists Ultraviolett (who has been herself advocating more women in this music through female:pressure) and Uta. And that’s just tonight – tomorrow Fennesz heads up another evening, followed by an open-air with Nathan Fake live on Sunday. (See Krake’s site for full details.) And this comes on the heels of another packed week-long festival just … last week, actually, in the form of Berlin Atonal. (More on the aftermath of that below.)
To see how this broader definition can fit, it’s nice to look at a beautiful compilation from Killekill and Krake of last year’s outings. Let’s listen:
Krake 001 is a CD/LP compilation that features tracks by artists who played in 2012 for us. A few of them have been released on other labels before, but the bigger part of the material is exclusive. Some of the tracks were even recorded live at our festival.
There are dark atmospheric drones by the likes of Thomas Köner, Shrubbn!!, Cassegrain and Dadub, sweet melodic pieces by Ulrich Schnauss, Bersarin Quartett, Kid606 and Barker, a bass heavy live recorded jam session by Tim Exile, mechanical grooves by Perc and Swarm Intelligence, melancholic epics by Goner, Alex Smoke and Lakker, and last but not least a sweet minimalistic dub track by grandmaster Pole.
￼Come on, drown with us!
01 Thomas Köner – The Weary Seer
02 Bersarin Quartett – Mehr Als Alles Andere
03 Pole – Wipfel Dub
04 Cassegrain – Serpent
05 Perc – Kord
06 Alex Smoke – LiveOn
07 Swarm Intelligence – Shatter
08 Tim Exile – It’s Dark In Here, But I Still Love You (Live & Improvised at Krake festival 2012)
09 Lakker – Darcdub
10 Goner – Enka
11 Kid606 – Juju Voodoo
12 Ulrich Schnauss – A Long Way To Fall
(Live at Krake Festival 2012)
13 Dadub – Syncronic Pattern (Live at Krake Festival 2012)
14 SHRUBBN!! – Echos 3|4
15 Barker – Marston Vale
We expect more from friend-of-the-site Tim Exile, too, soon – he has an upcoming EP on Leisure System records:
It’s worth revisiting, too, Berlin Atonal Festival. In absence of a full review, suffice to say that the event was surprisingly packed. That’s despite massive competition from other festivals, ticket prices steeper than what always-frugal Berlin is used to, and a venue that was literally one of Europe’s largest vacant post-industrial spaces. In that cavernous concrete former power factory, there was actually a massive crowd.
Pictures of crowds raving away at Atonal might make you assume the music was just the usual festival-friendly fare, but for one example, here’s our friend Samuel Kerridge.
Samuel Kerridge LIVE set @ Contort & Blackest Ever Black Showcase – Berlin Atonal Festival 2013
It begs the question: why isn’t more programming “adventurous”? If this is adventurous, what do we call … everything else? Are too many programmers assuming the least of their audience, when “challenging” them might actually keep them coming back for more?
We ran this before, but in case you missed it, Lower Order Ethics has her mix of some of the sounds from that festival:
Rouz – Deathlessness
German Shepherds – I Adore You
Christian Cosmos – The Angular Position of His Ghost
Vatican Shadow – The Hamburg Cell Was Born In Chechnya
Miles – Archaic Thought Pattern 1
Ed Chamberlain – Landmine
Pan Sonic – Vähentajä
Violetshaped – Out of Any Symmetry
Grungerman – Fackeln Im Sturm
Barker & Baumecker – Crows (Blawan remix)
Surgeon – Whose Bad Hands Are These (Autechre remix)
Bhutan Temple Music – Dungchen & Jaling
Powell – Grand Street
Edanticonf – Overture
Lucy & Silent Servant – Victors History
Ancient Methods – Castling Becomes Inevitable
Virile Games – Plague Saints II
Forward Strategy Group – Industry & Empire
Kreng – Wrak
Pete Lazonby – Sacred Cycles (Complete Edition)
Keep on adventuring, we say. Have a great weekend, go hear some live music somewhere, and we hope to bring you more soon.