From January 27 through February 5, brainy experimental music festival CTM brings us fear, anger, love and a trip to Mexico.
It may have begun as a spinoff of digital media fest Transmediale (kicking off February 2 this year), but by now CTM is very much its own beast, a chance for nerds and club kids to find common musical ground over an ever-increasing diversity of genres, geographies and genders. Taking over HAU, Berghain, Yaam and Kunstquartier Bethanien for its 18th edition, CTM takes a blunt thematic approach this time: “Anger Fear Love” reads like the tagline from an upcoming Jennifer Aniston rom-com, justified in an all-too-lofty explanation on the festival’s website. But the line-up, as always, more than compensates.
This year’s heavy hitters include pangender shaman Genesis P-Orridge, performing with Wolf Eyes’ Aaron Dilloway (Jan 31, 19:00, HAU1, preceded by a screening of P-Orridge documentary Bight of the Twin); Colin Stetson’s brain-melting sax-metal quartet Ex Eye, (Feb 1, 22:00, Berghain); and electro experimentalist/performance artist Jenny Hval reflecting on the US elections at HAU1 with fellow Norwegian Skrap (Feb 2, 19:00). Berghain’s sound system takes some abuse with Thomas Ankersmit’s Infra (Jan 31, read our interview here) and Austrian artist Kurt Hentschläger’s audiovisual installation “Sol” filling up the gargantuan, little-used Halle. For music you can actually get down to, YAAM hosts a searing hip-hop line-up headed by the justly-hyped feminist MC Nadia Rose (Feb 4, Princess Nokia moved to Apr 18 at Festsaal Kreuzberg).
A team-up with Tehran’s SET festival sees an Iranian music night at HAU1 on Feb 1, but it’s Mexico’s experimental music and sound art scene that gets the biggest spotlight. As curated by Carlos Prieto Acevedo, the Bethanien exhibition “Critical Constellations of the Audio-Machine in Mexico” (Jan 28-Mar 19) anchors an elaborate programme featuring a performance by Roberto Morales-Manzaneres combining Mayan harp and Wii controllers (Feb 1, 19:30, HAU2), a Panorama Bar set by Siete Catorce (Feb 3, 23:00, photo), a vocal interpretation of Conlon Nancarrow’s player-piano compositions by Loré Lixenberg (Feb 2, 19:30, HAU2) and Mexico City new music ensemble Liminar sharing the stage with Berlin’s Ensemble KNM in a globe-spanning night at Radialsystem V (Feb 4).
Here’s a final tip for all those notorious concert late-comers: don’t! Last year’s CTM was already super-crowded, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get easier this year. So, if you don’t want to waste time queuing in vain, be there on time. It’s worth it.