Thursday, December 11, 2003

information wants to be free - day one

01 - 21:30 - audiokollektiv [germany - festival introduction with ruptured soundscapes]
-by the time we arrived at the venue it was the back of ten, the place wasn't too busy. there was a guy on stage playing around with a lap top, but music was pretty quiet and there seemed to be some faffing about with the visuals for the venue.
-initial exploration revealed a front room, with the main stage, big screens hanging on either side, a screen/suspension structure hanging in the centre and another screen on the back wall. from there, there was a short corridor, stairs leading up to toilets/merchandise room. at the back of the corridor was the DJ/breakcore area, with a long bar against one wall and DJs/projectionists up top.
-after kicking about a bit, it was starting to get to about 10.30, and three guys took to the stage with laptops. at this point it was unclear who they were, but it became obvious that they were audiokollektiv going on an hour late. their music covered a range of styles over the period they played, from the sparse and open soundscapes reminiscent of bad sector to the more beat heavy breaks that they climaxed with. a bit of a wandering set, but on the whole it was quite a strong start to the weekend musically.

02 - 22:15 - echokrank [cz - low-fi C64-melodies]

-i have the most recent echokrank release kicking about somewhere, though of course quite which pile i put it in eluded me when i was trying to find it before we came over. still i recognised the band from the sleeve picture - two guys in bobbed hair cuts/wigs, one black hair, one blue, one with a right fitted leather jacket, the other with black shirt, tie, and black skirt. combining live drum and electronics, to give a retro electro mish mash, which no doubt fits somewhere into recent electro clash stylings. on the whole echokrank staggered sonically, having their moments, though perhaps tending to become a little irritating as they went on.

02 - 22:45 - jean bach [germany - musica abstracta]

-from a couple of tracks here and there i was curious about how jean bach would sound, but from his set i'm not sure if he was crap or if the sound was letting him down. there were certainly sound issues across the weekend, most notably several performances were too bass heavy, so that everything else was washed out. in jean bach's case he was too bass light, so that all we got were dull, repetitive beats, some techno inspired dance floor material, with very little to offer, other than the odd almost catchy moment.

03 - 23:30 - andrey kiritchenko [ukraine - fairy-like clicks-n-cuts ambient]

-kiritchenko has been making a name for himself in the last couple of years, though i admit to being under-educated when it comes to the ukranian. of the sets this was the most abstract so far, lots of cut up sounds, sparse at times, ethereal on the unataible edge. the results were mixed, so that at times andrey came across as being entirely striking, then at others meandering and pointless. particularly as the set went on his intros were pretty impressive, but then lost direction, this also led to the impression that he was going on to long and would have benefited from a more compact performance. personally he was a striking figure in his woolie jumper, seen smoking a pipe over the course of the weekend, though certainly he would have been told to take the jumper off by my gran while inside, because he wouldn't get the benefit of it once he went out - with the plummeting temperatures in berlin, those sound like wise words from the departed....

04 - 00:30 - rob[u]rang [belgium - beat box organics and electro dance - vj: antonin de bemels]

-i'm trying to recall what visuals went with this performance, since they are specifically listed. all performances had visuals of some kind, though they were variously random or related to the band in a clear way. rob[u]rang has released a couple of CDs, both of which are quite different, however this set came across as having more in keeping with his work as half of silk saw. this was the first real highlight of the weekend, even though the bass was starting to get cranked up, to some degree this was integral to rob's set while it may have entirely ruined some following sets. slow, sludgy and organic, sparse deep bass mixing with beats to give a certain up beat/down beat impression. the bass absolutely filled the room and rob became extremely hypnotic as his set went on.

05 - 01:30 - skanfrom [germany - minimal oldskool robotfunk served on 80s plasticsounds]

-at times i suspect skanfrom is too retro for me, but can work quite well with the whole electronica sound, and isn't as excessive as some in the genre. however tonight he was entirely too overloaded, washed out by nostril shaking bass and thick distorted beats. at times the impressions of melody came through, so that i did enjoy the potential of what i could make out. but on the whole his set was a wash out from where we were in the hall, though i've been told it wasn't as bad closer to the stage.

06 - 02:45 - monokrom/morgenstern [germany - crunchy ritual ambient and structured noises]

-this was a strange double performance, schramm and borner taking to the stage for a rhythmic ritualistic morgenstern set. several pieces were familiar and the set had the feel of classic morgenstern, without the distorted power noise excesses of the second full length release. the second half of the performance was more elaborate, the pair being joined at least by the munch and kneip of synapscape behind a white sheet. a repeating visual on the two screens at the front of stage showed the word monokrom and some abstract visuals. a giant sheet fell in front of the stage so that the band was concealed. flashing cuts of light and strobes picked out demonic shapes, whip cracks, and demon rabbits, cutting back and forth and rotating. this was a startling effect, and went with the brutality of sound generated, dense and distorted, grinding and threatening - monokrom were brutal and entirely memorable.

07 - 03:45 - gridlock [usa - chiseled electronica and broken beats filigree]

-despite the projected time of 3.45 for gridlock starting it was actually more like 5.30am by the time the duo took to the stage. from various conversations with detritus through the night it seemed that gridlock had been backstage all night, drinking heavily, so it was probably something of a miracle that they were still ready to go at this late stage. but they took to the stage, and performed for the poor numbers that were remaining - about 50-60 people at the most. their set was great, playing a good range of material from throughout their career. there was a joy at the crispness and beauty of familiar sounds, mixed with the opportunity to heat material from the latest album. gridlock managed to convey a certain enthusiasm with their performance, which was greatly appreciated and helped make their set. from there they finished at 6.30am, and we were in our beds back at the hotel for 7.30am, a full 24 hours after getting that train to the airport back in glasgow.

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