The NFOP Guide to CTM

25 Jan 2013 — Henning Lahmann

Golden Age

On Monday, Berlin's uniquely engaging CTM Festival heads into its 14th edition (called CTM.13, because, you know, it's 2013), this time proceeding under the theme "The Golden Age", which aims at reflecting today's underground and adventurous music culture, which "displays a greater diversity than ever before, and is therefore increasingly stretching the limits of differentiation, genre ascriptions, and the capacities of human perception," as the festival's curators explain in their convincing and exhaustive remarks on the topic:

No tensions, frictions, and dichotomies exist in the "Golden Age" of antiquity. The term describes a state of harmony and peace, and this is precisely what makes it so obviously suspect; few people nowadays are able to put much faith in unconstrained peace and harmony. CTM.13’s "Golden Age" reveals itself to be at least as ambivalent, but takes the diametrically opposed viewpoint, namely that nothing but tension, intensity, and friction is ever able to put a shine on its gold and bring forth from the tired, purely quantitative pluralism of indifferent juxtaposition, a pluralism appreciably rich in diversity and potential. Tension here does not mean only affect, speed, contrast, and a rejection of rationalism and conflict. Peace, languor, and contemplation likewise create spaces that allow for such intensity to build.

While the festival officially starts next week with the official opening concert at HAU1 on Monday night featuring AtomTM, Marc Behrens, and Matmos, the CTM exhibition "In That Weird Age" opens its gates at Kunstraum (Mariannenplatz 2 in Kreuzberg) tonight already. Moreover, there's a bunch of more or less unofficial, CTM-related events happening over the weekend, most notably tonight's "CTM Preglow" with Pete Swanson, Sensate Focus, and PAN mastermind Bill Kouligas, tomorrow's Greco-Roman curated "CTM Warm-up" (oh those names) featuring Renaissance Man, Millennium (exciting new project, more on that next week), and Full Nelson; both events take place at our ever-beloved Horst Krzbrg. Also on Saturday, we've got "Noisekölln x Sameheads x CTM Vorspiel" (oh) at Neukölln's Sameheads, with performances by NFOP darling Sean Bowie aka Teams, plus the debut (?) appearance by elusive Montenegrin project Time Wave Zero. Last, we'd like to recommend "Geek Out!" at Neukölln mainstay Das Gift on Saturday, an event that not only has Richard Scott and Erik Dower performing live, but also a workshop in the afternoon where you can learn how to build your own Quäkmonster (don't ask, just head over here for more information).

But as we said, that's only the (inofficial) beginning. You'll find the NFOP-approved guide for the festival's program below. Did we mention that we're excited? 


We've said it before but to be sure, we'll say it again: These are solely our recommendations, i.e. that sort of stuff that we'll most likely attend or try to attend ourselves (so if you see us, say hello!) – for the complete program, head over here.

Monday, January 28

As mentioned above, things officially kick off with AtomTM and Marc Behrens performing their Bauteile radio play prject, and Baltimore duo Matmos premiering their upcoming album The Marriage of True Minds, which is out February 19 via Thrill Jockey. The concert happens at HAU1 and starts at 7.30. More info here. Below, take a listen to "Teen Paranormal Romance", the first track off the full-length:

Tuesday, January 29

On Tuesday, things get a little darker and dirtier at Berghain for the first time, with Opium Hum, Diamond Version, Emptyset, TM404 (the new project of Mokira's Andreas Tilliander), and others exploring and testing the sonic capabilities of the sacred halls of stone. 8pm, more info and timetable right here.

Meanwhile at HAU1, you may witness the German premiere of Myrninerest, a newly formed project centered around David Tibet together with guitarist James Blackshaw, joined by a couple of musicians on stage. The group is set to perform their debut album “Jhonn”, Uttered Babylon, which is focused on 'the life and death' of Coil's Jhonn Balance, who had been a friend of Tibet. It probably won't get any more riveting and absorbing the whole week, so you might consider attending. We highly recommend that anyway. No need to say more:

During the day, there's a bunch of very interesting artist talks happening at Kunstquartier (Mariannenplatz 2, Kreuzberg). Electronic Beats editor Max Dax will have a conversation with AtomTM (2pm), before The Wire's Jennifer Lucy Allen takes over to talk to Heatsick (3.30) and Matmos (5pm).

Wednesday, January 30

Wednesday should become the day when the magic happens: First, we got Hamburg's finest Hendrik Weber aka Pantha Du Prince performing together with his Bell Laboratory at HAU1 at 8pm. Though we haven't really figured out yet how to come to terms with the project's brand new work Elements of Light (we guess it's awesome, we're just not sure), seeing the whole thing life will surely put it on a completely different level. Plus, he will always be our God anyway. More info here. Note that due to the overwhelming demand, there has been another show scheduled for the night after (which might be sold out already as well).

At Berghain, starting at a neat 8pm, last year's (rightfully) most critically acclaimed label, Berlin-based PAN, will have its long-awaited showcase featuring some of the imprint's crown jewels, including Heatsick, Jar Moff, Mark Fell, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Florian Hecker, and of course Lee Gamble, who is (as you'll know) responsible for this writer's favourite album of 2012. The staggering line-up is completed by recent Houndstooth signee Call Super. Go here for more details and the timetable.

Wednesday's discourse program includes Max Dax talking to Terre Thaemlitz (6.30), and "Welcome To The Virtual Plaza" with Manfred Schneider and Mark Fisher.

Thursday, January 31

No chance to slow down one day later, when things centre upon Berghain proper and its adjacent Kantine. At Berghain, contemporary electronic music's vanguard holds court, with a line-up that can only be called mindblowing and that features both the artist who's made our staff's favourite track of 2012, and the artist who has achieved the same as regards the editors. Besides Holly Herndon and Kuedo (who will be visually joined by MFO), the night will host Forest Swords and d'Eon. No, really. Here's the proof.

Next door at Kantine things will get decidedly grittier and gloomier, with performances by reliq, the very exciting Wife aka Irishman James Kelly, Reznik, Oneirogen, and of course Iceage, who will start at 1am – which most likely means that you won't need to worry about missing some of Kuedo's show, which is set to start half an hour later at Berghain; you'll easily make it in time (unless, of course, you got beaten up by the band because you made an attempt to take a photo of the singer).

As for the discussions and talks, there's some exciting things happening on Thursday as well: Jennifer Lucy Allen will have a conversation with Holly Herndon at 2pm, which should be fun, followed by Lisa Blanning (ex-The Wire, newly recruited by Electronic Beats) and Adam Harper (The Wire, Dummy, and author of our personal Bible Infinite Music) discussing "The Pop Art Of The Virtual Plaza" at 3.30.

Friday, February 1

A lot of things happening on Friday, so let's keep things brief by highlighting this one true highlight, our man Dean Blunt performing another of our favourites of 2012, his mixtape-cum-album The Narcissist II, at HAU1, 8pm. Details here.

Apart from that, which you shouldn't dare to miss, there's a lot of stuff at Berghain as well, namely performances and DJ sets by such illustrious figures as Shackleton, DJ Sprinkles, Shed, EVOL, or Andy Stott. Yes. If you don't seem excited enough about this insane night, it's because we don't see ourselves drinking enough Club Mate to actually make it there after Wednesday and Thursday. But we'll see.

Friday is also packed with terrific discussions at Kunstquartier, most notably a Resident Advisor "Live Exchange" with PAN's Bill Kouligas at 12pm, two talks on "The Death of Rave", the first focusing on the UK, featuring Mark Fisher, Lee Gamble, Alex Williams, and Steve Goodman aka Kode9, moderated by Lisa Blanning (1.30); the second centred on Berlin, with our friend and original raver Alex Droener, Ulrich Gutmair, Johnnie Stieler, Felix Denk, and Tom Lamberty. If you're able to read German but haven't read Der Klang der Familie yet, do so immediately, and then attend that panel at 3.30. If you happen to have enough energy for a fourth talk, look no further, at 5.30 smart folks will elaborate on "Virtual Futures: The Future Of Music".

Saturday, February 2

If you still want more, Saturday will serve another multitude of awesomeness, starting with d'Eon performing his acclaimed Music for Keyboards (not sure which one, actually) at HAU2 at 8pm; highly recommended.

Demdike Stare and Gatekeeper will share the bill later at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (which is a pity, as it's not all that easy to get there in time), with a world premiere and a German premiere, respectively. Later, there's complete craziness happening at Stattbad Wedding (again, a bit off) with The Midas Touch/#gHashtag/Purge, featuring quite a few of our friends such as BlackBlackGoldxorzyzt, and Half Girl / Half Sick, plus a bunch of amazing artists including Mykki Blanko, EAN, Anika, and Simian Mobile Disco. Yes. So it's probably worth to go all the way up to Wedding after all.

Sunday, February 3

CTM.13, "The Golden Age", ends on Saturday with something golden indeed, if pitch-black on the surface: The great Sunn O))) performing at Astra, starting at 8pm. We don't think we need to go any deeper on that. And honestly, if you've made it there considering the week's program: kudos to you. So have fun, and see you somewhere around next week.