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Berlin fest reaches 14th edition

Starting out as a musical side-project of Berlin's digital arts festival Transmediale, CTM.13 looks forward to its 14th edition this month. Hinged on the theme The Golden Age, it'll use electronic expression to challenge contemporary conceptions in a constantly progressing world driven by mass media. Have we ever had it so good? Things ain't that simple...

Within Greek Mythology, The Golden Age might been a state of peace and harmony, where progression is rendered irrelevant because further fulfilment is untenable. In a modern context, however, this concept is absurd, argues Jan Rohlf, one of the minds behind musical arts festival CTM.13 in Berlin. What's in it for the human race if we cannot advance? That would go against the grain of our entire existence, he says.

“Today, a vision like this would appear suspicious to us,” he tells DJ Mag. “We can't imagine a world outside the dynamics of conflict, competition, conditioning and manipulation, and so forth. Instead, we are afraid of the assumption that we might not be able to progress anymore. No further development, no newness would be equal to death.”

As such, The Golden Age — or the debate surrounding potential for such a state in the world today — is the theme underpinning the programme of this year's CTM series. Started as the musical spin-off for Berlin's festival for art and digital culture, Transmediale, in 1999, the movement was originally dubbed Club Transmediale until adopting the acronym, separating it further from its original forefather in 2006. Today, its sense of identity is more distinct than ever. Standing alone as a six-date programme of events across multiple spaces in the German capital (see sidebar) — now in its 14th edition — the entire ethos of CTM.13 will hinge on this modern day paradox. On one hand, rapid progression of society at the hands of technology is catalysing culture, allowing society to move forward and increasing our access to information, in turn expanding the scope for expression at our disposal. We've never had it better, right? Not quite.

This overload of information also has the capacity to lead us into a state of paucity; overwhelmed and exhausted by excessive access to media, we can often suffer bewilderment. Art and culture, especially music, is in a constant state of reproduction; barely anything is new, a photocopy of a photocopy tweaked, bastardised and rarely original, Jan argues.

“So, where are we?” he asks. “Are we in the Golden Age or are we not? Is it paradise or hell? Are we at a standstill — a process without end? Where will the new come from? Will it?”

These sociological questions are to be addressed via the daring and diverse selection of electronic music at the series of club nights, conceptual musical installations, exhibitions and workshops through the series. Taking place at Berghain, HAU Theatre, Kuntsquartier and Stattbad, as well as Transmedia's centre, House Of World, and home to the GDR public broadcasting corporation since 1990, Funkhasu Nalepastrasse, between 28th January and 3rd February, CTM.13 is as culturally advanced as it's likely to get. For now, at least.


 “We are independent. We insist that music is a form of art. We are interested in the social role of music in contemporary society. We want to reflect on the entanglement of culture and technology. We want to cross borders and help to intensify exchanges between various fields of music and culture, and between generations. We do not believe in socially rigid networks or circles. We want interdisciplinary exchange. We want to speak to the body and the mind. Music is experimental, but also a form of language and therefore discourse. We want to have fun and widen our perspectives. It is all about curiosity.”


 The various venues of CTM...


CTM at Berghain will run Tuesday to Friday, with the regular 'Klubnacht' residency slotting back in on Saturday. Drawing upon the legendary Berlin institution for its incredible sound and awe-inducing industrial architecture, the venue has also been selected for its mutuality with the musical ethos beheld by CTM's curators, who run programmes there all year round. “CTM at Berghain does not differ so much from what Berghain does all year,” says Jan. “They are on the same page musically, but CTM at Berghain will have a higher density, we will have some special projects that will have a slightly different audience.”


Called upon as the location for the more classical, concert-like installations of CTM. Stage performances and conceptual showcases make up the programme as well as deep listening events, with musical theatre from Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory, the band Coil and David Tibet of Current 93.


Used for CTM's daytime programme and host to an exhibition and a series of talks, lectures and workshops.


“One of the most exciting venues in Berlin,” according to Jan, this former public bath has a large empty pool used for exhibitions and music events, plus there is a club in the basement. Chosen for its unusual architecture, it oozes authenticity.


DATE: 28th January - 3rd February


Simian Mobile Disco, Skream feat Sgt Pokes, Gatekeeper, Matmos, Emptyset, AtomTM, Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory, Florian Hecker, Lee Gamble, d'Eon, Xiu Xiu, Dean Blunt ('The Narcissist'), Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez feat A Guy Called Gerald, Jar Moff

PRICE: 70 – 150+ euros