A gothic-fonted poster for Hören | Decession enlisted local heroes of a vibrant interconnected scene. The party took place at the magnificent Volksbühne theater in Berlin’s Mitte with key figures of the so-called post-internet scene. They are mostly expats linked to nights such as Janus and TRADE, and the PAN label – a community of artists hacking pop culture for their own needs.
Commissioned acts from Bill Kouligas, Amnesia Scanner and M.E.S.H made for a formative event. It’s invigorating to think that these adventurous creators, usually confined to clubs, could present their latest works in such a high-profile venue. It awarded these misfits the attention they deserve.
Words by Mateusz Mondalski + Photography by Roland Owsnitzki
"It’s invigorating to think that these adventurous creators, usually confined to underground clubs, could present their latest works in such a high-profile venue."
In the main room Bill Kouligas presented his self-proclaimed opera with two singers – Noisekölln Tapes’ Pan Daijing and contemporary singer Annie Gårlid. The three were awashed with a fog of green neon smoke as they stood below an installation of sublime fibre optics laces, designed by the Greek artist Spiros Hadjidjanos. This unique object operated in cycles of green and blue light, enriching the audiovisual session with an air of magic created through technology.
While Bill Kouligas played a grainy, marble-like soundscape akin to electric noises from the abyss of a giant server, Daijing delivered her sensual spoken word bringing to mind Elysia Crampton’s American Drift. Gårlid contrasted this monologue with ascending choral incantations which reminded the audience about this being an experiment with the concept of the opera. Yesterday I learnt that the two singers at Volksbühne recited Space Between – a ‘libretto-like script’ written for this show by Nora N. Khan, an American arts writer affiliated with New York’s Rhizome gallery.
Later on Amnesia Scanner transformed the respectable space into a spooky abandoned dance floor. It felt like the last minutes of a warehouse party when security sweep out the last ravers. The Young Turks signees delivered a dizzying 360 degrees whirlpool of visuals fired from projectors which rotated fiercely like malfunctioning robots.
The secretive duo was out of sight but racked the audience with a trolling deconstruction of hardstyle and trance. They ejected distilled kick drums and euphoric synth lines into the speakers, separated with intervals of discomforting silence. Suddenly an explosion of confetti burst from the ceiling, probably a mockery of big stadium EDM spectacles – the modern-day opium of the people.
Oslo’s Lars Holdhus aka TCF took this performative game even further as he spent most of his show at the Roter Salon serving pu-erh tea with an expression of delight on his face. I once read that the Berlin-based tea connoisseur sees the tea ceremony as a way of expressing his gratitude for the attention of his listeners. The Norwegian is also known for naming his tracks with long series of digits and letters carving out a space for cognitive chaos. At Volksbühne he delivered a short synthy set but music seemed secondary to facts like him being guarded by a collection of 3D plotted throats.
At the same time a cartoon avatar of this digital prankster teased us from a TV screen dancing cheekily with pants as his only attire. The audience reacted with laughter expressing a mixture of amusement and surprise. TCF complicated this multimedia combo with a projection of desktop or browser views which felt like an invitation to leap into our online subconscious.
For those drained with this intellectual journey, Berlin residents mobilegirl and Why Be offered a portion of straight-up physical exercise. Bao Tran-Tran and Tobias Lee have made waves as talented selectors and proved it here tossing house and reggaeton next to NAAFI, Aaliyah and TOTAL FREEDOM. A friend despised their hasty mixing which felt like a jog through their SoundCloud feeds but I thought the exciting track selection made up for these flaws.
Why Be managed his dynamics better but the fun was diminished by a bright dancefloor and high temperatures – the main problem that night. Having said that, it was still well worth to see Bill Kouligas and Amnesia Scanner challenge popular notions of a live performance. Many of us will remember HÖREN | DECESSION as a fine departure from the regular club experience.