Telekom Electronic Beats

2011 in Austrian music and culture

2011 in Austrian music and culture 2011 has been a game changer. It’s been the end of a rather unpleasant decade and I’m not just talking about the economic crisis. However, I’m really looking forward to the next ten years. We will keep the European dream alive and more, it will be a peaceful union. When it comes to Austria, it’s rather disappointing. At least in terms of politics, this year showed us again that politicians are corrupt – maybe even more than the rest of us.
Then again when I think about music this year has been over the top. I decided to talk to my colleague Stefan Niederwieser, editor in chief of the gap and part time DJ to review the year.

Hey Stefan, how has your year been so far?
Umm OK ish. I think I gained some weight. And some followers on Twitter! I like to think that there’s a connection between those two. I’ve been to Srebrenica and basically took the same photos in the Dutchbat HQ, which appeared in the international issue of Vice Magazine two months later under the title Genocidal Graffiti. But I was too lazy to send them my pics. Some random dude did.
The financial crisis sent shockwaves throughout the world, from London to Athens to Arabic countries. Dubstep went mainstream. Capitalism lost its glamour. Climate change is a topic for sunny days. More and more media outlets are copying from Pitchfork topics. Tyler The Creator and hipster black metal were the most enjoyable anomalies. Markus Schinwald and Thomas Prinzhorn won at the Biennale in Venice. Adapting to my new position was quite a challenge. Daily business kills caring about others. So, it was kind of interesting.

I read your tweet yesterday comparing visitors to the Kunsthalle Wien and people who go to see Austrian films. In your opinion has there been anything special except for Atmen maybe?
Atmen is definitely a film to watch. I’m not part of our film editorial staff for a reason, but I’d recommend Schwarzkopf about being a male immigrant with a moderate rap angle in Austria. And Whore’s Glory. In the tweet I said I was mainly wondering about the low attendances to Austrian movies this year. Quality-wise, Austrian films are still very strong.

Lets talk about music. What are you highlights?
Oh. Destroyer, Gang Gang Dance, Girls, Drake. And umm, we decide which album to feature on what level some weeks before Pitchfork reviews come out. So nah, we don’t copy Pitchfork. No we don’t, shhh. Oneohtrix Point Never, James Ferraro, Oval and Destroyer re-assembled the sonic ruins of consumerist pop in very different ways. Nostalgia still haunted the fields of indie music. And Simon Reynolds wrote a great book about just that. This year in music was mostly about memory and money. And a very good year too.

Did you experience any special nights out?
Oh, you want to know more about the awesome EMA gig she gave at the Waves Vienna festival, in which I’m almost not involved? No, really, the festival was a shitload of work with some very bad gigs and some very good gigs. Like the gig from Viennese noise super group Peterlicker. Or Icelandic Prog-Disco-Baile-Pop-Collective Retro Stefson. And oh, EMA …James Blake at Donaufestival was awesome, so much better than his gig at Primavera festival in Barcelona – which is itself a constant highlight with a killer lineup (event though the new stage harmed some of the special atmosphere). Fennesz did a huge remix of Gustav Mahler, which just appeared just this month in a 9 DVD box. In just the same venue, Chilly Gonzales performed not with, but on the ORF Radio-Symphony Orchestera. He mixes art with comedy, he’s hilarious, even though people hate him for just that. I missed the Suuns gig everybody keeps talking about. For electronic music, Soundframe festival and Runvie presented some very special acts in Vienna.

What about clubs? What’s your favorite of the year? Have you been to the Grelle Forelle yet?
I’d still have to say Pratersauna. They’ve still got the best bookings. The years after the first two, in which they really kept the hype up, will be the interesting ones. Can they get good deals with sponsors and booking agencies? Are they being swallowed up by small costs like lost and destroyed equipment, noise reduction, stupid neighbors, too much drugs or more opinion pundits? Flex went through all that and more, they were the pioneers and still attract lots of people, and tourists. Apart from that, you can experience very decent music in small venues like Elektro Gönner or Donau Techno. We assembled a very broad list of places to go on Foursquare. Check it out here.
And yeah, I’ve been to Grelle Forelle. They’ll have to adapt the spotlight. Having a no photo-no-guestlist-all-about-the-music-policy looks good on paper, but people quickly take enquiries at the door about the lineup of the night for arrogance. Stories like that spread fast and really don’t help in being cool. Much of the electronic scene reacted to the opening with a lot of prejudice. But like in so many cases, you have to get involved to change things if you don’t like the way it is. Grelle Forelle has one of the best sound systems in town. It’s very reachable on weekends via metro. And being tolerant about people who don’t look exactly like you helps if you want to have good night there.

I know you think The Wire is the best TV show ever. But do you think there is anything worth mentioning this year?
Oh, this was me lamenting on a personal level about a domain, in which I allow myself to be unjust. I guess I shouldn’t do that, as I’m basically frustrated, because I have too little time to delve into all these kinds of different TV shows. I simply have no clue about TV shows in 2011 and stick to the last best one I know. The Wire is awesome. Apart from The Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Did you see Fauner Consulting yet?
Nah. No. Shame.

What else is there to say? Wanna recommend something? What did we miss out?
Electro Guzzi this autumn. Soap&Skin next spring. There are a lot of new labels starting just now in Vienna – watch out for Luv Shack, Leap Records, Schönbrunner Perlen, moun10, Luv Lite Recordings and The Loud Minority. And let’s not forget Elevate festival in Graz, which isn’t just your random headliner-festival, as it also has a very international program and great lectures. And oh, I want to say hello to my Mom and Dad!

Published December 29, 2011.