Around 9 p.m., V2 Schneider walked to the bar of the .HBC and started to spin some records. It was the closing night of the Berlin Musikfilm Marathon.
Popul Vuh: ‘In den Gärten Pharaohs’
Jack Kerouac: ‘American Haikus’
Billie Holiday: ‘I Cover the Waterfront’
Music from the Kling Klang Machine iPhone App
Einstürzende Neubauten: ‘Fiat Lux/Maifestspiele’
Bernard Hermann: ‘Diary of a Taxi Driver’
Massive Attack w/ Mos Def: ‘I Against I’
Decoder OST: ‘Muzak for Frogs’
Frank Sinatra: ‘Strangers in the Night’
“Little” Jimmy Scott: ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’
The general theme for the evening was film music, though Schneider also felt free to experiment with his newly downloaded Kling Klang Machine app. He connected his iPhone with the battle mixer and programmed a slow electro beat that he underlayed with an abstract melody, also from the app. He let the machine repeat the beat endlessly, constantly changing details in the pattern or the melody. Before long, the crowd fell into a meditative mood, listening to the constant, subtly-shifting rhythm. After half an hour, he began to mix in Einstürzende Neubauten’s melancholic love anthem ‘Fiat Lux’. The Kraftwerk beat aesthetic and Neubauten’s urban blues amalgamated perfectly. The climax of his set was, in true Schneider spirit, FM Einheit’s field recordings of the Berlin Labor Day riots from 1987.
But Schneider’s selection was only the overture for a night to truly remember. Einstürzende Neubauten’s guitar player Jochen Arbeit took over and played even more eclectic variety of movie soundtracks. It was beautiful to hear how Arbeit wove in Howard Shore’s (one of Schneider’s favorite soundtrack composers) score for David Cronenberg’s film Crash.
Customers who bought this item by Howard Shore bought also other items by Howard Shore: The Fly (OST), Departed (OST), Videodrome (OST) and Seven (OST).
In fact, Billie Holiday’s haunting rendition of ‘I Cover the Waterfront’, even though not written by Shore (but nonetheless included on the original soundtrack to David Fincher’s movie) was one of the tunes that Schneider was periodically playing when he was regularly DJing.
In the still and the chill of the night
I see the horizon, the great unknown
Next on the bill was Frank Behnke, former guitarist for German doom metal outfit Mutter. Though his former work was distorted and heavy, his DJ performance was rather the opposite.
But the set Schneider was waiting for was the one from Irmin Schmidt, co-founder and keyboard player of the legendary band CAN. Few people know that Schmidt originally studied modern composition under Karlheinz Stockhausen and György Ligeti. He was also one of the first German pianists to play John Cage. Schmidt (who was supported by his friend and techno producer Justus Köhncke) played a couple of unreleased tracks from CAN’s vaults, which are due to be released later this year. One can only use the word ‘magic’ to describe the invisible energy lines that were activated by these previously-unheard sounds. For one hour, time stood still.
Holding a bottle of beer in his hand, Irmin Schmidt whispered to Schneider: “How come you never wanted to talk to me?” “This must be a misunderstanding,” Schneider replied; “I’d love to talk.” Schmidt: “I have a beautiful house in the south of France. Be my guest. Let’s talk there.”
Nika Roza Danilova grew up a loner in rural Wisconsin. Having musicians and artists she could identify with was her link to a world beyond the farmland of the American Midwest. Here, the proudly and immodestly renamed Zola Jesus explains how her icon, David Cronenberg, exposes the alien in the concept of alienation, and how understanding horror takes sensitivity.
I’m a perfectionist and a controlfreak, but I know what I do isn’t perfect, because music can’t be perfect. Nevertheless, I still find myself confronting fears of imperfection—mostly in art, but also in controlling life’s general parameters. Being a perfectionist has been alienating for me in the past and David Cronenberg’s films offer some of the most insightful interpretations of solitude, alienation, and human behavior around. The concept of alienation itself always has some physical manifestation in his work—usually a really visceral one; characters who feel alienated literally become aliens; or they remain human but are surrounded by dripping, slimy, and threatening creatures.
My first Cronenberg film was Videodrome, and I can honestly say it forced me to view the world and myself differently. Musically, almost everything I do is influenced by a Cronenberg-lens of recognizing the alien in the everyday. You see, when you’re alone, you’re free from the influence of society. And when you really insulate yourself, you become a society of one. I’m a bit of a loner, and that’s what helps me maintain a healthy skepticism to my surroundings—which, at the moment, are constantly changing. This skepticism is something I’ve learned from Cronenberg, especially from the films he’s both written and directed, like Scanners or eXistenZ. His surreality exposes how animalistic everyday rituals can be, and there’s always some thinly veiled philosophical motive or ambition embedded in the story. These are also the stories I like to tell.
Sometimes when I mention how much I respect Cronenberg, people go, “Oh, he’s OK, I guess . . .” I think most people don’t understand how sensitive you have to be to communicate such multifaceted ideas of horror and estrangement, which is something I personally relate to performing onstage—on a heightened platform. I often ask myself, “What do I do with this power?” Sometimes I wish I could direct it more.
I studied classical voice and thought about pursuing a career in opera, but I think that would have meant giving in to a perfectionism that doesn’t allow for error or messiness. Studying opera nearly destroyed me mentally. At a certain point I had to admit to myself that I’d never be the best opera singer in the world. Instead, I had to combine the naturalist in me—Zola—with the spiritualist in me—Jesus. It’s a dichotomy between mind and body, reality and illusion that I embrace and that Cronenberg showed me. ~