CTM Festival Highlights

05.02.2020, Events Kultur Kunst Musik

Founded in 1999, CTM is a Berlin-based festival dedicated to contemporary electronic, digital and experimental music, as well as a diverse range of artistic endeavours in the context of sound and club culture. During our comedown, we wrangled up six of our favourite moments from this past week, fuelled by Deathprod blasting out of the office speakers, much to the concern of our neighbours and postmen.

May we humbly present…



Chernobyl by Hildur Guðnadóttir with Chris Watson and Sam Slater

Hearing a live performance of the chilling score of the TV series Chernobyl from recent Grammy award winner Hildur Guðnadóttir would not seem appropriate if experienced while lounging about the flowers in the Botanical Gardens sipping sekt. Thankfully former crematorium Silent Green stepped up and took the opportunity to have its new underground concrete wing bombarded with trailing blue spotlights that seemed to be looking for any last remaining survivors, set against bone-chilling droning ambience of field recordings from active power plants alongside Hildur’s voice. Both shows were sold out and packed wall to wall. No test evacuations were found necessary.


Photo by Stefanie Kulisch



Inferno by Louis Philippe Demers and Bill Vorn

Dancing to techno already conjures robotic movements. But when you add robotic exoskeletons with flashlight extremities onto mechanically synchronised dancers remote controlled by one man with a sinister smile on his face in the center of a strobe-filled room of Radial System, and add booming industrial beats powering the endless affair, it is a post-apocalyptic hell (if your image of the apocalypse arrives in the form of cyborg army rebellion.) The robots aren’t coming, they’re already here. But don’t worry, they just want to dance. For now.


Photo by Rafael Zajac



Giant Swan 

A writer for The Quietus reviewed listening to the debut album of Giant Swan as “A little bit like getting stabbed while very, very high.” Agreed. Now let us imagine for a very brief moment that you are getting stabbed while very, very high on the main floor of Berghain. And liking it. I don’t quite know how this duo’s improvisational performance gave such strong slaps of nostalgia amongst their unconventionally synced, energetic punk techno beats: perhaps it is how they draw inspiration from a large variety of sources, making their sounds easily resonate to the wide array of people filling the dancefloor. Whatever the reason may be, we should not question the things we love. Stab me again, Swan. Harder.


Photo courtesy of Declan McGlynn



Chthonia Rites by Wesley Goatley ft. Alexa and Siri

Do you lay in bed asking your personal assistant to tell you bedtime stories of Bacchanalian cults? Do you question if the way your life will be perceived in five hundred years is accurate? Do you wonder if there is a political agenda attached to Roman mythology as we have come to know it? Wesley Goatley does. With backing visuals by Sougwen Chung, Goatley illuminates these questions, turning the stage over to his performers- Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri- in what could be described as a voyeuristic view of a tonal psychoanalytic session between two robots.


Photo courtesy of the artist



Nik Nowak

Artist Nik Nowak’s arsenal of vehicular artworks bring to mind sci-fi and military phenomena, while mimicking the botanical world in the form of scorpions, praying mantises, and lunging dogs. These contraptions are heavy, large, looming, and they are loud. Each tank is made of speakers and they demand your attention. They have an impact on anyone within hearing distance before one even has the opportunity to see it. And while these pieces are incredibly menacing, they are also beautiful. If we are to take our impending overthrow seriously, we’ll get a lot more recruits if we make it stylish.


Photo courtesy of CTM



Lyra Pramuk

The most human performance of the week was perhaps the most beautiful. The aim of CTM is to introduce acts that fill its attendees with a sense of newness, wonder, and curiosity toward possibilities, but inevitably these glimpses also present an undercurrent of unease at the future that awaits us as our current environment stands. After back to back shows with messages of dystopia, frenetic lighting, and info desks propping up a list of various warnings and suggestions of earplugs, Lyra’s performance and beauty thus was amplified. She refreshed. She reminded us that the world is worth saving- if only to witness the rarity of self-determined grace, to walk gently and more pointedly, to observe with our eyes closed, and to relish in a few more moments of communal awe amongst fellow disenchanted humans.


Photo by Tyler Matthew Oyer


Text: Janna Shaw


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