This year’s Month of Contemporary Music, running from August 27 to September 30, presents yet another packed program of endless possibility, with works questioning the relationship between music and the urban and ask us to see our city in a new, more playful light.
Every good festival needs a curtain-raiser and in Sonambiente (until September 5) the Month of Contemporary Music has found a fabulous option. Set among the lonely halls of Tegel airport – the first time the building has opened its doors since the airport closed last year – this miniature sound art festival has found a truly brilliant venue.
Stroll through the deserted gates as Einstürzende Neubauten’s Blixa Bargeld announces flights to far-off, imaginary places or take a trip to the moon in Laurie Anderson’s VR film installation. The reinvention of one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings as an artspace is reason enough to visit, but to see the building glow in the late summer sun, unhurried by the endless squeaks of suitcase wheels offers a rare chance to marvel at the beauty of the place in peace that shouldn’t be missed.
Perhaps the most exemplary installation of this year’s theme is in the Soundwalks. Guests are led on a musical dérive through Berlin with installations in different locations challenging us to reclaim the city as a space for art and re-encounter places that have slowly blended into the background of the urban mesh. Best of all, the preplanned routes are accessed by QR codes located around the city, lending this interactive installation yet another layer of adventure.
In a somewhat similar vein, Urban Morphologies (September 1, Silent Green) finds the Ensemble Mosaik soundtracking an audiovisual tour of Berlin, Los Angeles, and Basel – past, present, and possible future. A thought-provoking meditation on the sounds of gentrification, Urban Morphologies blurs the lines of physical space to invite you into those oft-ignored in between zones common to all large urban places and a chance to reassess what that universality means for the future of our cities.
One definitely not to be missed is the ninth instalment of the UA series. The Zafraan Ensemble present their interpretation of the legendary Berlin club culture of the 1990s. Set at Kantine am Berghain (where else?), the ambitious project that attempts a contemporary deconstruction of the bass kicks that defined the sound of the 1990s.
Berlin itself is at the heart of everything at this year’s Month of Contemporary Music and in Pyramidale the festival gives visitors a playful reason to visit the much-maligned region of Marzahn-Hellersdorf.
Featuring live performances on a specially commissioned BVG tram, in the cable cars at the Gärten der Welt, and other such quirky locations, Pyramidale is the most obvious expression of the power of music to transform space and reinterpret our notions of the urban. As Berlin slowly but surely reopens as a space for social interaction, the timing couldn’t be better for a month-long celebration of new possibilities for our city.