Live Bloops: Emika / Clark / Nguzunguzu @ICAS Suite Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Hosted by the CTM (Club Transmediale), the second ICAS Suite (ICAS = International Cities of Advanced Sound) was part of the Berlin Music Week these past few days, featuring more than 30 acts at four locations. The CTM is a well established forum for experimental electronic music, usually taking place parallel to the Transmediale Festival every year in February, and now presenting upcoming artists and labels from all over the world in Berlin-Kreuzberg on this occasion too.

The Berlin Music Week is a much bigger though, and more of a framework for smaller and bigger events to take place at the same time than a cooperative festival of sorts, and competition is harsh during this week. Or maybe rumors of Berlin resident Emikas below-average gig at Horst Krzbrg a few months back were just still fresh. In any case, the Festsaal Kreuzberg was only half filled when she played her set at around 11pm, and she didn’t move the audience – not bodily, and not emotionally. Her voice was her biggest handicap again, flat and cold. What works as a stylistic device on her self-titled 2011 Ninja Tune record simply doesn’t do live, and the crowd soon began to chat and further disperse.

But the festival audience seemed to purposefully pick the shows they did want to see, because people were streaming in for (Chris) Clark, who nearly disappeared behind his huge setup of electronics on stage. And the Warp records artist used it to the full, blasting loudly through the history of beats and electronic styles, from euphoric house to hiphop to Berlin techno. I even heard some wubs here and there. While it was very interesting and got the audience moving, serving the head as well as the legs, it seemed a bit hectic here and there due to changing patterns by the minute.

Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof of Nguzunguzu closed the evening with a DJ set relying mostly on hiphop tracks and samples. Taking song by song turns at the tables, Pineda relied more on the tribal sounds that are prominent on the “Warm Pulse” EP they released on Hippos in Tanks this year, while Maroof pointed out their roots in hiphop and UK bass. Sometimes on the brink of cheesyness, it was catchy dancefloor material. Pussycrew’s retro rave visuals helped the set not only sometimes sound, but look like the 90ies, too. Looking back, it was a nice, diverse evening, more suitable for the connaisseur than the average music fan though. But that is the CTM trademark, after all.


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