29th Nov

29th Nov is a special day in Berlin, which could probably be added as an extra day off (there are very few Public Holidays in this city anyway!). What happened on that day I have no idea, apart from what I’ve googled now. Apparently Godzilla received its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but I’m not sure this could be a trigger for creating some of the craziest, quirkiest and most creative label for techno videos.

Last year I was lucky to celebrate 9 years of 29th Nov films on the already legendary Boiler Room party and looking forward to its 10th anniversary.

Maybe it is a coincidence, but it seems there is some strange tradition of throwing 29 hour long parties in this beautiful city. Apart from celebrating 29th Nov, almost each year The Long Now is celebrating the seasons change with a 29 hour show in Kraftwerk.

Since November is the month when the days are getting unbelievably dark, cold and gloomy, having started my 3rd year in Berlin, I fall back into living out of the amazing offer that this city has for music aficionados like me: be it jazz concerts, contemporary dance classes or amazing line ups every week(end).

Or binge-watching Youtube videos, since GEMA has finally allowed most of the content that was out of reach for German IPs for years, due to its famous lawsuit. I can totally recommend randomly choosing 29th Nov videos, and you will not be disappointed. I have consciously chosen some of my favourite ones below, although I could easily start a campaign of posting one video every day for the rest of the month.

Till then, the will be enough reasons this month to celebrate. Commemorating the freedom that brought the fall of the Wall, first snow in the city (apparently next Tuesday already) or Prince Charles (the club, it is) anniversary with some amazing DJs coming up like Theo Parrish or Moodymann. Plus hopefully Donald Trump losing the elections very soon. In any case, happy 29th Nov everyone!

Gunkanjima – the possibility of an island

Hashima Island (端島), commonly called Gunkanjima (軍艦島; meaning Battleship Island) was one of the highlights of my trip to Japan in October. Situated just a couple of kilometres away from the port of Nagasaki, it is one of the most unusual places I’ve ever seen.

I found out about Hashima thanks to Google Earth and a friend of mine who has visited Japan earlier last year. She didn’t make it to visit the island, but knowing my passion for the beautiful decay and abandoned places, she knew that I will do my best to reach it during this trip.

Reaching Hashima proved to be not as complicated as I initially thought. Obviously, it depends greatly on the weather and sea conditions, but since it was awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining in 2015, regular boat cruises to the island started to operate from Nagasaki port.

According to the tour operator, and my fellow travellers, cancellation of the cruises happen very often. Especially that I was visiting in the typhoon period, the dock on Hashima is pretty steep and landing not always is possible. I was lucky to sail when the sea was relatively quiet and on the way, I managed to hear various stories about the industrial revolution, Mitsubishi’s investment in the area that left impressive massive port architecture landscape in the Nagasaki Bay. However, a big part of the narration was also about the consequences of the brutal 19th century capitalism, and further decay of the settlements.

During the cruise, a former mining company employee was sharing both thrilling stories, and anecdotes about life on Hashima. Unfortunately, the narration was not always comprehensible or translated, so I could only read through his emotional language and further investigate about the industrial battleship exile.

Although the trip took only a few hours, it left me very impacted by the possibilities of afterlife for the post-industrial settlements. As the world will be hopefully becoming a more sustainable place in the future, endless opportunities or creating architectural memories of the massive coal mining, or steel industry will become a destination about learning about the past.

Techno symphony for Berlin Metropolis

Berlin, the acclaimed city of music, film and creative industry in general, received a very special gift last week.On 8th March 2016, Jeff Mills presented the premiere of his soundtrack for the ‘Symphony of the Great City’ within the Cinemix series. I have to say, that I am still speechless after his performance in a small studio cinema in Hackescher Markt. I am far from being a psychofan, but sitting not even 2 m away from the turntables of the maestro made it for unforgettable experience.

While the original movie is interesting enough to watch anytime, falling under the cinematic Berlin to-dos, the special history and link between Jeff Mills, Underground Resistance, the industrial revolution, and finally the bridge of techno music for Detroit and Berlin, made the Cinemix premiere one of its kind. Legend of the early Tresor years captivated the mood, rhythm and musical landscape of the city, and I bet no one could rewrite the soundtrack better than he did, given his unique connection to Berlin.

Previously we could watch Jeff Mills’ Cinemix production of Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’, as below:

It is incredible, how relevant techno OST can be even after 90 years of the original movie premiere. During the screening of ‘The Symphony of the Great City’ I was stunned, how much the city changed, and at the same time, how much the energy remained the same. Alienation, industrialization, and on the other hand: consumption, excessive and extravagant social/night life describes the early years of 20th Century in Berlin much as the hype these days.

So in case you are curious to check the movie, here is the original footage of the Symphony of the Great City. I can only hope that Jeff Mills’ OST will become one of the most important, timeless masterpieces, universally defining Berlin as a cosmopolitan, dynamic and forward-thinking city.

Berlin Radio

When I was a kid, I remember being haunted by a recurring nightmare that I am being exposed to a radio that can’t be turned off and forced to listen to very bad music and news 24/7. After years of autoanalysis, I obviously put the blame on my parents who made sure that I receive a proper music education from the early years: exposing me to piano and singing classes few times per week. So at the age of 8 or so, I composed my first VERY abstract ‘track’ on my synthesiser. Later I discovered it had something to do with Theo Parrish early experiments. And thus, I developed very low tolerance to bullshit and mainstream sounds.

Music has determined many of my life choices, including the places of residence and travel destinations. And as for my childhood nightmare, last year I discovered someone flipping it into a dream. Aybee, US-origin DJ, filmmaker and producer, currently based in Berlin, created a very interesting story of a journey of a radio throughout different neighbourhoods of the city. I was very happy to see that the radio was broadcasting very deep sounds that were simply ticking the right knobs of my brain. As well as that the people paid attention to it, contrary to the stereotype that Berlin is a cold city full of very indifferent people. But well, to be fair, this radio met people like Ari, Fred P or Levon Vincent on its way. It also passed my house a few times, no wonder why.

All of these DJs are regularly playing in various venues and combine that unique Detroit-Chicago-Berlin flavour. Be it techno, be it soul, be it house or whatever you call it (as I hate labels, I prefer – following my dear friend Enclave – using colours or temperatures to describe music), if I found this radio on the Michaelbruecke, I’d adopt it for life. Just check it out (Aybee is playing regularly in Panorama Bar or Tresor, too) and fall in love with Berlin once again.

Sunday Funday in Berlin: now & then

Today is one of these days one can only expect the unexpected in terms of the weather in Berlin. Intervals of sun, rain, storm and wind vary and it is rather difficult to plan anything outdoor. But the summer has been pampering the Berliners so far – even to the extreme.

Sundays are never boring: either you go on with the party mode or you go on a nature retreat. Alone or with friends – up to you, this city adjusts to all prefered options, be it brunch by the river channel, sunbathing in one of the public swimming pools or city beaches, visiting museums and galleries or cycling around the city.

It’s fun to see that the city was very active and alive on Sundays many years ago too, in the pre-Nazi era in Berlin. A light-hearted film made by Robert Siodmak in 1930 shows a group of the amateur Berliners in a very Sunday Funday mood. Many of the places pictured in the movie are still a very popular locations for hanging around on a sunny Sunday. However, it’s very interesting to see how the city looked before the WWII and live the spirit of the epoque: strolling down the Nicolassee, falling in love and chilling by the lake shore with a gramophone, or play with the sausages (just check this out!).

The movie will be shown in the Freiluftkino Friedrichshein next weekend (25th July) but for those that for some reason won’t make it, or are stuck at home on this rather rainy day, I attach you below an English-subtitles spoiler. Happy Sunday everyone!

A Dark History of Tresor

Sounds brought from Berlin has always inspired not only myself, but also klein aber fein electronic music groovement in my city of origin: Poznań. When I turned enough old to enter clubs in the early 2000s, my journey through the inspirational genres of house, techno and broken beats started and never really stopped, just the amount of time I put in the search for it, had to somehow decrease.

Back in a day the scene in Poznań seemed the most open-minded, at least comparing to other Polish cities. Shortly before the times of conservative backlash that obviously influenced the music scene too. I realized it is coming back to its interesting shape again nowadays, but all this would not happen if it wasn’t for the Tresor club and the influence of the capital city of techno nearby. And I am obviously not thinking about Warsaw.

So back when I was still considering my ‘career’ as a DJ, the natural consequence after getting to know where all the vinyl goodness had come from, was to step on the train and within 2,5 hours reach Kreuzberg to spend a couple of hours in the hottest vinyl stores at the time. Sometimes I was quite lucky to get a permission from my rather liberal parents to come back a few days later, so I could experience just a little bit of what now often is considered a history, like Tresor club, Maria am Ufer or Bar25.

This is where I discovered the sounds from another inspirational city: Detroit and fell in love forever with this crazy, dark deepness of the most organic of the electronic genres. Juan Atkins, Anonym Huisman, Jeff Mills, Theo Parrish and more recently: Fred P, Mike Huckaby are to be named as at least a few who shaped my taste for today. And the Detroit influence over Berlin deserves at least a separate entry!

So last Friday, 13th March 2015, Tresor celebrated its 24th birthday. The new location after re-visiting for a while now did not feel the same magic as the original one. Also, I am no longer such a reckless and restless clubbing aficionado. However, what should be said is that Tresor keeps on bringing deep and still interesting sounds to a wider audience in times when techno turns kind of mainstream and recognizable.

When writing about the history, it is also important to mention its impact on the current happenings. In my humble opinion, the dark and stark sound and vision of the technoworld can be represented by the 29th Nov movies channel with regular uploads of a very surprising content. I always discover the new artists while watching 29th Nov’s new productions. For instance, on a gloomy Sunday like today, these tracks can definitely reflect the bleak Berliner moods best Endlec – Darkness Approaches and Iñigo Kennedy – Plaintive.

Don’t forget to go home

It is not absolutely necessary to wait for the weekend when in Berlin. Often during the week even more interesting things are happening: for instance, the Boiler Room session which took place in Stattbad only last Wednesday. Totally acceptable to the civilised-schedule and rather sober techno-aficionados as it started off as early as 8 pm. There are regular parties happening early-Wednesday-mornings or Sunday-late-afternoon.

There is obviously more craziness going on, but comparing with the past years of the techno evolution (some 20 years ago), Berlin seems like a tranquility mecca, at the same time being not losing its glory of the island of creativity. I have gathered  some of the documentary movies picturing the milestones of the city’s history watched through the darkened techno lenses:

Technocity Berlin – epic documentary from the 90s (in German)

Children of Berlin – what was then – this is now

Don’t forget to go home – a short history of Berghain, or rather formerly Ostgut

Watergate X – a journey to one of the weekends at the Spree bank’s famous location…

Meanwhile, the spring has come slowly, but surely and the bleakness of the city seems to be washed away with the rays of sun. And I am so much looking forward to wearing sunglasses not only at night.