January 26th marks the start of CTM’s 19th year of freaking out the normies. The ten-day festival will overtake Berlin, occupying the city’s premier spaces for cultural influence (Berghain, Kraftwerk, Festsaal Kreuzberg, Hebbel am Ufer, to name a few). While the festival’s annual mission to present the most outstanding acts in contemporary, electronic music is unwavering, it’s theme changes with each edition. This year’s theme of Turmoil takes inspiration from our current, undeniably uncertain times. The CTM website elaborates on this using the cryptic language of a horoscope: 

“The world is in turmoil. And so are many of us. No matter what perspective we take, what used to be familiar is becoming increasingly alien, oscillating widely between peril and hope, between regression and progress, between standstill and explosive change. Tensions are running high for all of us… CTM 2018 looks for music and sound that deals with growing strain and that unsettles us for a reason…Music and sound that mirrors the dissonance of the world and resonates with our anxieties.”

As per usual, there is an overwhelming amount of multidisciplinary talent on display for the festival. If there are a few too many new names for you, please consider our list of prospective highlights.


 

Mass VI | Amenra & Scott Kelly

 

Metal and its associated genres typically have minimal representation at CTM, which is a shame when this year’s theme is taken into account. Much of the extreme music scene has its roots in punk and hardcore, which historically have been the sonic manifestations of dissent and frustration. This year’s choice of diplomats speak well for CTM’s curation:  Belgium’s doom legends, Amenra, and Scott Kelly, most notably of Neurosis. Kelly, will start the evening with his acoustic solo work, which, while far outside the genre he pioneered, maintains a sound that is rife with pain and turmoil (think if Elliot Smith if he could grow a beard). After years of drawing influence from Neurosis and ultimately signing to their label, Neurot, the boys in Amenra will take the stage in what must be a moment of fanboy glee. 

21:00 | Sunday, 28 January

Festsaal Kreuzberg

Antidote | Lucrecia Dalt & Colleen

“A special concert devoted to fathoming margins between antithetical states will feature two solo musicians with idiosyncratic, expressive musical languages.”

At first listen, the work of Cécile Schott (aka Colleen) doesn’t conjure feelings of unrest. If anything, the use of dreamy arpeggios and soothing vocals will more likely lull the listener. The turmoil, however, lies in its inspiration: 

“She will perform the music from her new LP, A Flame My Love, A Frequency, which was composed in reaction to the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. It reflects on the interlacing of life and death, “finds optimism in the face of tribulation”, and “meditates on humanity’s ability to prevail.”

Lucrecia Dalt’s music is similarly meditative, using a combination of spoken word style poetry, ASMR triggers, and atmospheric synth. 

“Dalt will perform the live version of her upcoming album Anticlines, whose concept was guided by lyrics that work equally as poetry and thematic framework. ‘The work is concerned with edges, boundaries, porosity, liminality, and tellurics, and explores these not only through lyrical content but also via musical delivery – microtonal shifts in Dalt’s voice will navigate the foggy borderlands between speaking and singing.'”

19:00 | Thursday, 01 February

HAU1 

FIVE Berlin / Embryogene | Rashaad Newsome, Lotic, and Roderick George

This is one of the events that distinguishes CTM from other electronic music festivals. FIVE Berlin / Embryogene is the collaboration of prolific artists from various disciplines.  T

“In “FIVE Berlin,” multidisciplinary American artist Rashaad Newsome will investigate the African, European, and North-American roots of vogueing. This underground NYC dance tradition emerged out of the queer black & Latino ballroom scene in Harlem in the 1960s and 70s, but was only first thrust into the wider public eye in 1990 when Madonna released the eponymous song and music video inspired by it… Rashaad Newsome, whose own work blends several practices – collage, sculpture, video, music, computer programming, and performance – to form a new creative field altogether, likewise brings a multidisciplinary approach to the project. 

Preceding FIVE, club accelerationist Lotic and classically trained American dancer Roderick George team up to present “Embryogenesis,” a piece exploring the restrictions of assigning certain dance genres to specific racial groups or cultures. The collaboration investigates the potential of blurring boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘popular’ culture, setting classical and modern dance styles to Lotic’s metallic dancefloor blowouts in a kinetic, ever-evolving exchange.”

19:30 | Thursday/Friday, 01/02 February

HAU2

IOANN | FIS | Pan Daijing

While we pay frequent visits to Funkhaus, we haven’t yet had the pleasure to visit MONOM (Berlin’s Center for Spatial Sound) since their opening last month. We’ve been anxiously awaiting the chance to experience their heavlily hyped 4DSOUND system ever since we heard it existed, and what better way than with the likes of FIS and Pan Daijing. MONOM’s website explains more about the system: 

“The 4DSOUND system is a spatial instrument. It provides a flexible, intuitive control platform for artists from different performative disciplines to experiment and express their ideas with a new dimensionality. An integrated hardware and software system, 4DSOUND creates a fully omni-directional sound environment in which you do not hear sound coming from speakers: instead, sounds appear in the space as independent physical entities.”

CTM explains further:

“Sound is a medium that we experience with our entire body. Similarly, the 4DSOUND system is a habitable instrument that merges with and decentralizes the performance space, allowing for sound to come from all around us and move through us. Experiencing sound in this way opens us up to emotional and physical responses inscribed in our ancient and recent memories, providing an opportunity to experience our senses as a gateway to more meaningful connections between inner and outer space and to transcend the turmoil.”

 19:00 IOANN – “Imagining the Hyperspace”

19:40 FIS

20:30 Pan Daijing

19:00 | Thursday, 01 February

MONOM

Holly Herndon Ensemble

In the latest stage of her metamorphisis, Holly Herndon will be collaborating with Mat Dryhurst and a vocal choir of other Berlin-based musicians. For those who are unfamiliar, Herndon uses her music to test all associated boundaries: rhythm, tonality, and the resulting level of the listener’s comfort. 

“The performance will explore themes of AI and frontiers (technological, geographical, and otherwise) while celebrating community and endorsing hope in the face of despondency. The ensemble compare and contrast the raw, guttural aesthetics of traditional folk singing styles with the humanoid, future-hailing flair of voices sent through synthesis and processing.”

Before the ensemble performance, the evening will kick off with individual performances by the choir’s members. Berlin-based creatives: Albertine Sarges, houaïda, Josa Peit, Lyra, Marshall Garrett, and UCC Harlo will treat us to their “cabaret-style vignettes.”

21:00 | Saturday, 03 February

Festsaal Kreuzberg

Closing Concert – Bestial Mouths / DAF

And no band epitomizes such turmoil more than legendary techno-primitivists Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft or DAF. Formed in 1978, the group consists of Gabriel “Gabi” Delgado-López on vocals and Robert Görl on percussion & electronics. With a stripped-down mix of aggressive militant beats, minimal synth lines, and expressive vocals, they created a style that is as cold, calculated, and uncompromising as it is corporeal, arousing, and hedonistic. Little did they know this would end up providing a new blueprint for electronic dance music for generations to follow.

Opening the night, Berlin-via-NYC & LA darkwave outfit Bestial Mouths combines pumping industrial synth lines with raw, fearless vocals that range from operatic, extended-technique furies to shouted monologues. Their bewitching music takes audiences on a dialectical journey juxtaposing consciousness and unconsciousness.

20:00 | Sunday, 04 February

Festsaal Kreuzberg 

There is much more going on at the festival than what is listed here. Check out the full program here.

Some single events and ticket packages have already sold out, so we recommend picking yours up promptly.

Photos and italicized text provided by CTM website.