Berlin Atonal Festival Curators On the Must-See Acts

Next week is one of our favorite weeks in Berlin because the five-day experimental festival Atonal launches on August 19. The series of concerts, film screenings and audio/visual art installations has an extensive legacy that dates back to 1982, when Tresor founder Dimitri Hegemann organized its debut, which you can read about here. After a hiatus in the 2000s, Laurens von Oswald and Harry Glass revived the festival in 2013 and brought it to the cathedral-like Kraftwerk power plant next to Tresor, and we’ve hotly followed Atonal ever since. After an interesting experience last year, we asked them to recommend the sets and events they’re looking forward to this time around. Read their picks and explanations below.

Wednesday, August 19 @ 20:00: Alessandro Cortini + Lawrence English Present Immediate Horizon

“Alessandro Cortini was one of the first people who we knew needed to be part of this year’s lineup, as his output on Hospital Productions and Important Records made up some of our favorite releases of the last few years. We’re very proud to be able to present the live audio-visual premiere of his Sonno project, which is based on the Hospital series by the same name. The second volume,Risveglio, was just released. We’re also  excited to premiere a new project by Cortini and Australia’s Lawrence English, Immediate Horizon.”

Thursday, August 20 @ 20:00: Kangding Ray + Barry Burns (Mogwai) Present SUMS

“It’s always nice when you can see a project through from the first idea to early drafts and—hopefully—its successful presentation. David Letellier is one of our favorite producers and a family friend of the festival, so it was easy to get on board with the idea of a joint project between Kangding Ray and Barry Burns. We’ve been listening to the music as it develops, and it’s incredible: big, sweeping and powerful. Now we can’t wait to show everyone else.”

Thursday, August 20 @ 20:00: Varg presents Ivory Towers

“We’ve been big followers of everything out of the Northern Electronics camp for quite some time, so it’s fantastic to be able to host the world premiere of Varg’s Ivory Towers project, which features Loke Rahbek (a member of Damien Dubrovnik and Lust For Youth), Ossian Ohlsson (aka Vit Fana), Frederikke Hoffmeier (aka industrial producer Puce Mary) and renowned film score composer Erik Enocksson, all under Varg’s unorthodox leadership. Sofia Al Rammal, Frida Sundqvist and Linnea Mesko will provide live visuals.”

Thursday, August 20 @ 20:00: Paul Jebanasam + Tarrik Barri present Continuum

“Paul’s performance at the 2013 festival was a highlight for us. His solo output has been limited but incredibly strong, and this is the first glimpse into his future works with his Continuum piece, the follow-up to Rites. Tarrik is probably one of the best contemporary artists working in sound-responsive visual constructions in the world. He also knows our unusual visual set-up because he was commissioned for a couple of pieces at last year’s festival. It’s a dream to have them working together.”

Thursday, August 20 @ 20:00: Chra

“Once we started listening to the music Christina Nemec has made lately, we knew that we would love to hear it in the big hall. It’s dark, noisy, and full of subterranean rhythmic passages and experiments in tonal development. It’s top stuff, so we’re so happy to invite her to stretch her sound to its fullest extent in the power plant.”

Saturday, August 22 @ 1:00: Northern Electronics Showcase

“We already mentioned Northern Electronics, but the label is definitely worth another look. Its output has been diverse, furiously consistent and forward-looking. The lineup on Friday night/Saturday morning showcases label stalwarts Abdulla Rashim (who will present his Lundin Oil project), Acronym and Varg, as well as newcomer Vit Fana and special guest Puce Mary. Their visual artist, Boefums, will accompany every show on our yet-to-be-seen second stage. Expect everything from entrancing synth pieces to noise workouts.”

Ed. note: Although this show starts on Saturday morning, you will need to buy a Friday ticket in order to gain entry, as this event is part of Friday’s programming.

Saturday, August 22 @ 20:00: Outside the Dream Syndicate

“Part of the job of putting together a festival is looking at what areas of creative activity haven’t yet been fully explored, and that usually means trying to find the newest and freshest stuff or featuring artists whose work we believe in and want to promote. But another side involves looking back into history and digging up important, undervalued items. We’ve been working hard on what we think will be one of the the standout musical events of the year: a one-off live performance from Outside the Dream Syndicate, the legendary collaboration between avant-garde icon Tony Conrad and German krautrock band Faust. Conceived in 1973, their seminal LP helped set the parameters for minimalist and drone music in the latter part of the 20th century. For us, this project is absolutely unique and pre-figured so much of what we like in contemporary experimental music: thunderous percussion and violin, chest-rattling low frequencies, repetition and drone. They’ll play their first onstage reunion in over 20 years at Atonal.”

Saturday, August 22 @ 20:00: Shackleton presents Powerplant

“Another specially devised project that we’re so happy to be a part of is Shackleton’s new piece for live drummers. It was made with the Kraftwerk venue in mind and is going to be explosive. Again, we’ve been privy to some of the rehearsal sessions and this one’s going to be very special. The music falls somewhere between komische, ritual trance and minimalism and is—as Shackleton’s work always is—very much individual and forward looking.”

Nightly after parties @ OHM

“Whenever we do something in the Kraftwerk, its little brother often provides some of the most memorable gems. OHM will host after-shows all week, plus a massive closing party to end the festival. We’re keeping some of the special guests under wraps for now.”