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The Berlin Atonal: A Visual Sonic Overview

 The bar - Photo by Greg Reason

Berlin Atonal is one of those festivals in which the line-up doesn’t tell you much when they first announce it, but that inspires you to explore the sounds beforehand. It’s really about indulging in the music. You might not know the artist beforehand, but their performances will leave you speechless. Forget socializing with your friends, instead you’ll be trying to get the most out of the sound coming out of the speakers. The crowd, the location, and of course the visual effects and music experience make the five days of this festival truly special.

The Crowd

The two main types of people in attendance are techno veterans and hipsters, black-clad festival-goers the likes of whom you might expect to encounter queuing at Berghain. Everything is pretty consistent in terms of aesthetics: minimal, dark, but a bit extravagant too.

The Location

Kraftwerk Berlin is the perfect setting for an event like this: surrounding sounds and flashing lights mesh well with an industrial interior. Apart from the main venue (main stage & stage null), there are other places to entertain oneself: Ohm, Globus, Tresor and a dusty garden with food trucks (not to mention Späti right next to U-Bahnhof Heinrich-Heine-Strasse).

The Music/The Artists

“Experiment” is the keyword best used to describe what is really going on at Kraftwerk. The festival’s name “Atonal” also aptly speaks to the scope of music experience provided within.
Wednesday (19.08) was kick-off day and the festival opened with a concert by Chor der Kulturen der Welt on the main stage, on which later on played acts like Max Loderbauer, Jacek Sienkiewicz, Alessandro Cortini with Lawrence English debuting a joint collaboration “Immediate Horizon”—on Saturday Cortini had a much better eclectic solo performance.

Thursday, Paul Jebanasem presented his great new work “Continuum”, featuring visual projections by Dutch artist Tarik Barri. The same day Varg surprised the crowd with his special project “Ivory Towers”, a composition involving electronics, vocals, bass guitar and string synthesizers.

The much-anticipated concert of Shackleton saw the premier of his new “Powerplant” project. Raw, edgy, providing a new outlook on music improvisation that generated mixed reviews. To some, the premiere was sloppy, messy and over-hyped.

Photo by Justyna Dolecińska

Peder Mannerfelt proved that if an artist really wants to go beyond their limits, Atonal is the place to do so.

Off the main venues, great entertainment was assured by the likes of Tapes, Shifted, Sigha, DJ TLR, and Abdulla Rashim with the “Lundin Oil” project—though it was probably too hot at Tresor to truly enjoy the music.

The Experience

What makes Atonal so amazing is that the audience is continually challenged to rethink the music and listen with the entire body as the event organizers aim “to give shape to the void”. With noise so brilliantly engineered, there’s no better place to truly appreciate the darkest sounds than Berlin Atonal. We’re already looking forward to the 2016 edition.

By Justyna Dolecińska // BERLINSKO

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