The enclaves of Folk and Pop have melded with the expansive borderlessness of laptop Electronica into what is yet another overused, floating signifier: Folktronica. The reach of the term, grown to encompass the spectrum from Four Tet to Mïm and all things boreal, freaky and foresty, is stretched, but still too narrow to cover the tendencies to folkiness in instrumentation, exploratory structures and a certain homeliness that are being engaged with by a wide range of musicians, identifiably woven with Noise, Psychedelia and cosmic Sounds. In tonighths line-up, there may be plucked harps and acoustic guitars, but the darkness that pervades the music is at odds with flower garlands and foliage a the genial warmth of folk and pop elements belie the depths just below the surface in these probing, beguiling projects.
Hollandos Machinefabriek, who creates delicate, textured soundscapes with laptop and instruments, will be making his first appearance in Berlin. His finely tuned performance-sense ensures listeners will be enchanted by the trance-like, atmospheric sound. Floating, surreal filigrees drift through dark tones and high volumes to reveal the power
Islaja is a widely acclaimed solo project from Merja Kokkonen who is closely affiliated with the Finnish Free Folk scene and its psychedelic aesthetic. Her songs, recorded at home in her own studio, evince mesmerising, fine acoustic textures and bewilderingly surreal moments. A wonderful complement to the bluesy, sometimes gentle, sometimes thrilling psychedelia of her neighbour on the bill, Ignatz.
Jan Jelinek of Farben and the landmark Loop-finding Jazz Records fame alongside fellow Berliners Hanno Leichmann and Andrew Pekler introduces the new project, Groupshow. In a folky collectivism strongly focused on the live-experience of music making they create improvised chaos that resolves itself into drone-based explorations with Krautrock-like looping beats, and cosmic undertones.
At the end of the evening stands the Berlin debut for the Danish band, Efterklang, that unites acoustic beauty and electronic melancholy in a mix of folk and gentle Pop gestures. Efterklangts first album, Tripper (2004) catapulted the band to fame and assured it a number one hit in the Danish singles charts. Their second album, Parades, released in 2007 on The Leaf Label, brings together 11 emotionally charged, majestically ethereal orchestral pieces, elaborated with romantic charm that lures the listener into strangely enchanting worlds. To see the 9-strong band live is a fascinating experience.
The idea of an improvised remix concert of original, pre-recorded sound, was realized by nobody more fully than Conrad Schnitzler, the pioneering musician who convinced Tangerine Dream and Kluster (Cluster) to delve into the then-unexplored realm of synthesized sound, with his Kassetten Konzert. Prefigured by Pierre Henry performing live mixes with tapes, not unlike Stockhausen working his potentiometers, or Brian Eno, who processed Phil Manzanera's guitar solos with Roxy Music, Schnitzler nevertheless made the Cassette Concert his own with the unique and very influential techniques he developed in the 80s. Composers including David Myers and Gen Ken, David Prescott, Giancarlo Tonuitti, and Serge Leroy now use similar systems, and echoes can be found electronic dance music; Richie Hawtinhs live fragment-assemblage DJing, for example, and indeed, much laptop live performance.
In the 80s, Schnitzler developed the concept of cassette concerts to create larger, more complex sound as a soloist for his live performances, and later used the techniques as a means for his music to tour without needing to travel himself, requiring a "performer" other than Schnitzler to select the material, adding uncontrolled, unforeseen elements to each concert.
As each tape contains only one component of the piece, they are selected and combined differently forming the same basic, but variable and unpredictable composition. Cassette Concerts allowed Schnitzler to combine the best elements of structured composed music, improvised music, and conceptual music into a workable method of both composing and performing live electronic music. As predecessors of todayos computational generative systems his techniques introduced a new take on electronic music performance, transforming static recordings into evolving event with an infinite number of outcomes. Other than the concrete differences that come from selecting the various tracks, there is variation through the mixing of volumes, the adjustment of equalization, and the placement of the speakers, both in stationary positions and with movement.
For tonight s performance, Schnitzleras long time collaborator, Wolfgang Seidel, is the assigned "player". Seidel was involved in Schnitzler's Zodiak Free Arts Lab. Disenchanted with rock music, Seidel began collaborations with Schnitzler aimed at re-negotiating the roles of performer/listener and creating free-flowing improvised sound.
The cassettes have been replaced by CDs, with additional and updated signal processing of original sounds, but the techniques remain otherwise unchanged. Some of SchnitzlerSs rarely seen videos from the 80s will also be screened during the performance.