As you may know, we’re hosting a sold-out festival in Cologne at the end of the month with a lineup that includes diva Róisín Murphy, Howling, Django Django, David August’s Live Ensemble and Broken Luxury. In addition to being an exciting musical showcase, it’s a good excuse to compile a bunch of lists about Germany’s most breathtaking Domstadt. Today we’re focusing on the sound of Cologne and the artists who have shaped it over the last—err—50 years or so. And since we’ve had so much fun with these lists, rest assured that there are more to come.
Any proper listicle about Cologne’s musical contributions to the world begins with Stockhausen, the granddaddy and enfant terrible of Germany’s classical avant garde. He was the country’s most important post-World War II composer and, with a catalog of nearly 300 compositions, he was as prolific as he was revolutionary.
What do Kraftwerk, Neu!, Harmonia, Can, Cluster, DAF, Killing Joke, Ultravox and Brian Eno have in common? They’ve all been produced by Conny Plank. Even David Bowie was craving Plank’s sound and magic touch on the mixing console but as history has it, he wasn’t interested in working with the White Duke.
One of krautock’s most influential bands began in Cologne in the late 1960. The founders, Holger Czukay, Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit and Michael Karoli, had backgrounds in avant garde and jazz music, which laid the foundation for them to develop into a legendary experimental rock outfit.
Mouse On Mars
Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner have continually redefined techno, IDM and pop in quirky experimental music for over 20 years. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of their iconic productions is that every sound seems to have a life of its own.
The German-Venezualan composer and vocalist Yvonne Cornelius played an instrumental role in shaping the output of labels like Tomlab or Mouse On Mars’ Sonig imprint under the alias Niobe. She also recorded for Karaoke Kalk, another internationally renowned electronica label from Cologne.
Through the course of compiling this list, we found that Kompakt is the first name to spring to most minds when “Cologne” and “music” are mentioned in the same sentence. The Kompakt omniverse and its stalwarts, a class that includes co-founders Wolfgang Voigt and Michael Mayer, has wrought a singular influence on Cologne’s post-acid house electronic music scene and beyond. Not too long ago, people in Germany referred to Kompakt as “the Bayern Munich of techno.”
Speaking of Kompakt: Jörg Burger. Producers from Cologne have always had a distinct sound that combines the slickness of minimal techno with pop references, and Burger is no exception. As Burger/Ink (his collaboration with Wolfgang “Mike Ink” Voigt), The Bionaut or Modernist, Jörg Burger did everything from acid assaults to ambient introspection.
The co-founder of the Magazine label has become Cologne’s hottest export to the techno community in the past couple of years. His output, which has also appeared on Hinge Finger and Cómeme, carries on the city’s tradition of combining techno with a visual-arts sensibility.
When Ada arrived on the scene her take on melodic minimalist techno with a distinct pop sensibility blended perfectly with the city’s predominant sound with a dash of intimate, quirky charm. Her debut album, 2004’s Blondie, is still one of the best long players from that era.
We’re rounding out our roundup with a true originator, because few embody the city better than Willy Millowitsch. Born in 1909, he was mostly known for his work in TV and theater, but he also wrote a couple of famous folk songs like “Wir sind alle kleine Sünderlein (‘s war immer so).”
We’ve revealed the details for our 2015 EB Spring Festival Season. Click here to find the lineup, venue, and ticket details for Warsaw, here for Bratislava, here for Prague, and here for Cologne..
Our fall festival season closed last weekend, and we’ve barely had time to recover from our hangovers after raging at back-to-back showcases that starred some of our favorite artists, including Caribou, James Blake, and Jessy Lanza.
But everyone knows that the best cure for a nasty hangover is a little hair of the dog, so we’re easing the pain and nausea by occupying our minds with the next batch of EB bashes. In years past, our spring festival season hit Warsaw, Bratislava, Prague, and Cologne. Guess where we’re going in 2015…
Warsaw, Bratislava, Prague, and Cologne!!!!!
We’re kicking things off in Poland on February 27 and shutting it down here in Deutschland on May 29, and in between we’re hitting Slovakia on March 6 and the Czech Republic on March 13. We’re not ready to reveal the lineups yet, so why don’t we refresh your minds about some of last year’s headliners: Moderat, Four Tet, Hudson Mohawke, and Jon Hopkins, and more. You can relive Hopkins’ performance via the recording of his performance from last year’s stop in Cologne, below.
The possibilities for our 2015 season are wide open and full of endless opportunities, and as usual, we’re determined to one-up ourselves again. Pre-order tickets below.
This year, we have partnered with Festicket to offer you exclusive packages including your ticket and accommodation to the event. Buy your ticket here.
Update: Prague, you guys are crazy. We already sold 200 earlybird tickets in under two hours, so hold on tight for the official sales, which will begin in December.
There’s already been a fair amount of buzz surrounding Azhar Syed and Julian Stetter—the duo better known as Vimes. Their delicate, electronically processed songs of heartbreak are at once otherworldly and painfully human; think Wild Beasts’ sense of musical melodrama wedded to the techno lifeblood that flows through the band’s home city of Cologne and you’re, well, still not quite close. Last September’s “Celestial” single, released on Berlin’s Humming Records, proved they knew their way around a pop single and this month’s Celestial Remix EP sees the track comprehensively retooled—and we’ve landed the exclusive premiere of the heavy lidded remix by Berlin producer Rampue. The slo-mo house rework touch draws out the melancholy, and those powerful piano chords, of the original over an exquisite ten minutes. Be the first to hear it above.
Celestial Remixes Release Parties:
February 7th – Cologne, Zum Scheuen Reh
February 14th – Hamburg, Nochtwache
Vimes Celestial Remix EP is released digitally via Humming Records on February 7th, followed by a limited run on 12-inch vinyl on February 21st. You can also catch Vimes live at the Electronic Beats Festival Cologne 2014.
Important update: We are very sorry to announce that due to illness, Milky Chance have had to cancel their festival appearance. While there won’t be another act to replace them (how could there be?), we will be offering vouchers for all EB Festival Cologne ticket holders to see the duo perform an exclusive show which we will try to set up sometime in the near future. For that date, vouchers can be picked up at the EB Festival in Cologne and will have to be presented together with your EB Festival ticket for free entry. Despite the setback, we do hope you all will attend but if you had your heart set on seeing only Milky Chance and would like a refund, we will be happy to give you your money back. Please note that the ticket refund is available up to May 30th and only where the tickets were originally purchased. For more info contact your ticket outlet: Költicket: 0221-2801; Eventim: 01806-533933; Getgo: 01806-570080; NTRY: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Headlining the event is Goldfrapp. The game changing electronic duo will be heading up the bill, joining Jon Hopkins, Milky Chance, Mac DeMarco and Vimes at Cologne’s E-Werk on May 23rd. Always ahead of the curve, the English pop eccentrics’ various permutations have seen them go from trashy-glamorous electroclash envoys, weirdo disco doyens and eldritch folk outliers in their fifteen year lifespan. Their most recent album, 2013’s stunning Tales of Us was their most personal record yet, pulling together the intimate, stripped back songwriting they recently perfected and the sweeping beauty of their debut Felt Mountain. Live, they’re always been an incendiary prospect—remember the theremin?—and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for this most intriguing period of their career.
Jon Hopkins has worked with names ranging from Brian Eno and Coldplay to Four Tet and David Lynch. He’s even chilled with our very own Slices team, which you can watch below. His recent album Immunity was nominated for the Mercury Prize, and one listen reveals why; with its haunting moments of beauty and emotional ambiance, it perfectly captures the resonance of a really good night out. We can’t wait to see him bring that kind of power to the stage!
Coming all the way from Canada, Mac DeMarco‘s particular blend of glammy, woozy jams have been described as “slacker rock” and “jizz jazz”, and should go down quite well for fans of the inimitable Ariel Pink and other outsider weirdos. And opening the night is local electro-pop duo Vimes. Support is offered by the Cologne Sessions DJ Team, Hugo Hoppmann and Mitch. They are co-founders of event series the Cologne Sessions, championing artists like Funkineven and Lone, and Mitch is the co-founder of Ki Records.
Where do you get tickets to such an event, you ask? Through our EB Radio and Video mobile apps or via the embed below. If you’re a resident of Germany, you can get a discount of 2 euros off of your ticket and pay through your mobile phone bill. Simply use either of our apps or use the embed and select, “2 Euro günstiger über die Mobilfunkrechnung / Prepaidguthaben” when you choose to pay, instead of credit card or Paypal. Keep track of updates via our Facebook event page. ~
We last heard from Mouse on Mars back in early 2012 when their Parastrophics album was an unexpected return six years after their last studio album proper. Now they’re back on Monkeytown Records with a digital-only EP entitled Spezmodia, a twenty minute workout that sees the German electronica duo feeding on the energy of the most future-engaged dance floors—and we’ve landed the exclusive premiere. Never ones to strip back, Spezmodia revels in its maximalist, digital production and snaking, rattling basslines and reformatted house keys, you can even hear the imprint of footwork on the rolling and hyperkinetic “Migmy”. It’s an interesting swerve after the sprawling Parastrophics but hardly surprising; Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner have been making music together for two decades, ever since, as the apocryphal story goes, they met at a death metal gig in 1983. Over the course of ten studio albums and many more EPs, they’ve experimented within—and without—the stranger and less visited areas of electronica, beginning with ambient house experimentalism and getting stranger from thereon in. In 2006 they even clocked up an appearance on Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings Varcharz and roped in Mark E Smith as Von Südenfed in 2007 for Tromatic Reflexxions.
Mouse on Mars’ Spezmodia is released on January 10th on Monkeytown Records.