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"information wants to be free" festival (berlin, december 2003)
posted on 17-Jan-2004 by anton

day 1

the first act of the festival, audiokollektive (billed as "ruptured soundscapes") started an hour later (the starting times for each act continued to slip throughout the festival) and provided a clear illustration of the young generation of technoid musicians that obviously have heard a lot of the good acts in multiple genres, but possess zero creativity themselves. after getting tired of playing "spot the influence" game, we took off to explore the venue.

following echokrank could be complimented for their fashion sense and good intentions, but either the cursed soundsystem has let them down, or their mix of low-fi electro and acoustic percussion was really that terrible.

I remember nothing of jean bach performance, perhaps because I was chatting with andrey kiritchenko that appeared to be surprised to find himself participating in this event. he did indeed looked a little out of place, wandering around and not seeming to quite connect with the performances and the whole "industrial" background of the audience, but in reality his set turned out to be the first truly interesting experience of the evening, finally setting the "right" mood. it was an improvised set, blending together ambient textures later on joined by disarranged remains of minimal techno. similar to his release on ad noiseam, there were multiple isolated moments of enjoyable oscillating ambience mixed with cold arrhythmic glitches - non-linear music that could only be perceived in this discrete, fractured mode, disappearing and falling apart if one were to take it in as a whole.

gabriel severin also known as rob(u)rang (and a part of silk saw) climbed on stage next, dragging along a grandma's chest of wonders - whistles, rocks, chimes, bizarre metal instruments; they occupied the whole table next to him (he looked like that particular kind of extremely likable decrepit chevalier from the 70s, getting ready to begin an exquisite shamanistic ritual). it was a setup promising a delightfully rich electroacoustic weirdness, and I was rubbing my palms, getting ready to chuckle and savor the moonsanto-like wackiness, but unfortunately most of the toys went unused due to the efforts of sound people. still, it was a heaving beast he was tending to - dense arrangement of heavy rhythmic sounds that possessed an intrinsic compositional appeal, something that is not so easily identifiable, but immensely fascinating.

it was an appropriate move on the part of organizers to place skanfrom next, brightening up the atmosphere. I have expected a lot from him, but a certain "vibe" was missing during his set; it started out as ambient, and then performing a few of his well-known electropop songs, and then becoming increasingly dark. I think it was a missing self-irony that made the set seem too dry (or perhaps it was the sound guy again that made his performance too bass-heavy, without those prominent naive retro melodies).

monokrom/morgenstern that followed was an overbearing barrage of dirty noise; after a few minutes I could not take it any longer and fled outside for some power drinks and fresh air. by the time I got back, it was around 5am, and the bunnies behind the paper screen were finally done with their performance (the stage presence was their only saving grace, and even that was not enough to make up for the music), and I could actually chat with a few people and get ready for gridlock.

the latter were nowhere to be seen until the very last moment. this was the show I wanted to see since 1997, and at this point I was almost afraid that the sound would fail again, their stage presence would be lacking, I would be too tired to enjoy their set, or even that they would not show up.

at last two (almost stereotypically) energetic californians were on stage with their laptops. there was none of the dramatic stage presence that I remember from their video with individual totem (ah, the good old pendragon days... but apparently another american tour with the live drum set is imminent). they have performed for a dwindled crowd of those that made it through the night. during first few minutes the sound was quite sketchy, with deformed bass, and highs that seemed completely disconnected from the music (I could be spotted running around the room, trying to find a better-sounding spot), but later on it all came together, and that long overdue sweeping feeling of excitement and giddiness has finally settled in.

gridlock played material from all of their albums, rhythmic pieces connected by quieter ambient interludes (the joy of recognizing familiar tracks and hearing the way they flow together and resonate with the crowd). grinning, snapping photos, exchanging quick replicas with each other and completely getting into the music - their set was the culmination of the evening, an example for all the modern laptop kids - the way heavy electronics should be done and performed. it was almost impossible for me to judge it objectively - their sound was something that I kept coming back to for all these years, maintaining it as a reference point for countless technoid musicians. their formula is simple, but the execution is flawless and thorough; their superiority was obvious.

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related links
iwtbf'03 photo gallery
iwtbf website

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