AGF, Phill Niblock, Yves Tumor and bleeding ears
Again and again it’s a surprising experience to fly in for a gathering like Resonate festival, with a fixed list of what to do and whom to talk to and then suddenly get lost and stimulated in the unexpected flow of existence. And boy, there is much of that to find at this well curated academic conference meets music festival.
Let´s first talk about the conference part, as at Resonate this is the central aspect and the exclamation mark of the festival. Located at the Kinothek of Belgrade (the new one, not the old – as speaker Hans Nieswandt realised in a rush of blood a few minutes before his presentation, just to be saved by one of the friendly locals showing him the way and giving him a touristic tour by doing so), this mix of presentations, discussions and workshops is nothing less than a huge playground of ideas, visions and realised projects.
At Resonate you get a good understanding of what “We are Europe“, the collaboration of the eight Europeans festivals c/o pop, Elevate, Insomnia, Nuits Sonores, Reworks, Sónar, TodaysArt and Resonate is all about. Based on an idea of Europe founded not in the limited boundaries of the EU and all those bad experiences we have with the union in the wake of the Greek crisis and broader economic turmoil. It feels soothing to see people engaged negate this fearful view on the world of today (leading to social, economic and manifested walls) and instead go by all means on a mission of intercultural social exchange – the unknown, both in terrotory as in person as an opportunity and not a threat, that´s how the definition should be written in every book.
The “We are Europe” festivals share a similar approach to topics and sounds, but each of them brings in a very personal perspective on this. As mentioned above, Resonate for example comes up with an impressive conference programme of speeches, talks and presentations. Let´s have a closer look:
Hans Nieswandt presented the working processes of the Institut für Populäre Musik at the Folkwang University which he is in charge of to a packed house (one has to state: all of the events were absolutely packed, quite remarkable) of established and upcoming artists.
AGF talked about of the several musical projects she is hosting on her hometown, The Finnish island of Hailuoto, ranging from teaching electronic music production to kids, giving sound workshops in the natural environment and working on a “History of women’s Russian language via poetry, sound & feminism” project.
Dimiri Hegemann told the story of Tresor club and label and by that how his own life was built on the ruins of the Berlin Wall and sharped in the basement of an old bank in the eastern part of Berlin in the 90s – and how all of that led to his current activities in Detroit. He spoke with an agreeable optimistic; but not all the Belgrade locals could commit easily to this attitude, as obviously the daily struggle in town is quite intense. As the person next to me said it: “Every city wants to be the next Berlin – but how?”
Sadly the scheduled speech of Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. aka Mykki Blanco had to be canceled as the artist was arrested the night before after helping his Dj who had got into a fight. Too bad. Everybody was quite keen to see and hear him talking about his life and mission as a guy transvestite not willing to accept the borders of the society and leave gender and colours attributions as much behind herself as the need for a single definition of the working field, claiming art and academics both as the centre of her existence.
Yes, the borders at Resonate are fluid, but without question the level of scientific coverage and technological discussion is elevated and robust during the four days of constant noise. And by talking about technology and science we are definitely traversing all future fields, especially the lesser trodden areas.
From listening to the presentation of Turo Pekari of the Teosto Futures Lab on his scientific researches on the emotional involvement of the audience – getting informations for example out of sweat and eye-movements in order to generate some computer generated content, one could easily be strained and culturally pessimistic. Is this what we want?
By no means is the research work of the Teosto Futures Lab supposed to lead to a manufactured culture, the idea is rather to help artists and people working with music to optimise their efforts.
But then again, looking at the wider fields of discussion by following the work of people like Jürgen Schmidhuber, the road is there and we have to contribute our reflective-critical part to the design of this milky way, if we don’t wanna end up as spineless travelers.
The line between good ideas and bad consequences is tine, a fact well known to Bogomir Doringer. The Serbian artist based in Amsterdam presented his newest project “I Dance Alone“, for which he is filming dance-floors from a bird’s eye view and observes the found collective and individual choreographies as mirrors of social, political, and environment changes. In his presentation he proclaimed that the cameras are not catching any faces and that his studies are not intended to de-invidualize the people on the observed dance-floors, it is more about a deeper understanding where, why and how we dance the way we dance. I had the chance to talk to Bogomir Doringer during my stay in Belgrade and will publish an interview on Kaput soon.
As the festival develops, I have to admit that it feels weird to think about all those far and not so far future scenarios, whilst staying in a city which hasn’t seen much development since the days of bombing ended. Belgrade is very much embossed by an ongoing economic depression, the unemployment rate is fairly high (depending on the source, every fourth or fifth person is unemployed) – it is hard to think about the oppressively effects of the digital worlds while walking through post war shaped streets.
Break. Silence. New Beginning.
One of my absolute Resonate musical highlights was the audiovisual performance of Thomas Ankersmit and Phill Niblock at the end of the Friday speech section at Konteka. An intense journey into sonic frequencies, repetitive patters, minimalism and the beauty of soundscapes.
With the bar set high, Yves Tumor still managed to jump easily over it with his absolutely outstanding performance, which has to be claimed the “best of 2017“ so far as experienced by the author (this includes CTM for example). One has to fall in love with the incredible energy the Turin based artist, who first caught the eye of a broader audience with his involvement in the Mykki Blanco compilation “Mykki Blanco presents C-ORE” and recently with “Limerence”, his contribution to the PAN records compilation “mono no aware”.
His appearance is super intense, very direct (he constantly walks like a “Taxi Driver”-maniac through the audience – tensed but never aggressive to the people he confronts) and super super loud (he pressed the sound guys to get louder and louder and louder – when I came home to the hotel I checked my ears for blood coming out!). The music itself is an as intense mix of field recordings and very atmospheric sound material, distorted in beauty.
Roly Porter who played before Mykki Blanco at Club Drugstore, a secluded venue on the outskirts of the Belgrade centre under a motorway bridge and perfectly fitting the set up of claustrophobic sounds, delivered a solid drone-noise-set.
Who elese has to be named?
Anna von Hausswolff who´s concert ended with beautiful successive towers of layered noise, but somehow on the way to this eruption missed a bit of dramaturgy.
Lee Ranaldo who followed her at Dom Omladine Belgrada, a lovely old inner city concert hall, played solo a set of material from his upcoming release. No sound surprises, but very well well hung post Sonic Youth songs, complete with a typical 80s-New York grouchiness. Some things never change.
On the closing night Club Drugstore (Belgrade knows his habits) once more was the place to get lost in the night. This time first with an space defining ambient set by the Norwegian musician Geir Jenssen, better known under his imprint Biosphere and a stunningly great performance from the jail freed Mykki Blanco.
From there Addison Groove (very Dubsteppy), Feloneezy and Jackie Dagger took over, while Lil Taty played all night long in the small club an incredible high tempo set – the locals seem to love to dance to 140+ bpm.
Resonate, one to come back to, for sure.