METAPHYSICAL JOURNEYS AT A L'ARME

Photos by Peter Gannushkin

Today the Funktion-One sound system isn’t pumping techno but avant-garde jazz and conceptual classical music. People are standing still, their eyes are closed, the focus seems to be solely on the sonic experience. A L'larme Festival! started with a powerful solo performance by the violinist Sarah Neufeld. Her spherical sounds turned Berghain into a place of musical worship.


The festival which has been going on for half a decade now, has found its fans and followers here. The experimental approach of the curators of A L'arme contributes to Berlin’s already diverse music scene.

However, conceptual music with an avant-garde approach does not attract the masses, whereas conceptual art exhibitions in big museums nowadays do. When it comes to music, an average concert goer expects either emotionality or banging 4 to the 4 beats. Noise and off beats continue to be hidden treasures, only known to a smaller more exclusive group. Therefore it is no surprise that A L'arme Festival! with its ambitious conception remains a tip for insiders. That also meant that the group of guests was rather conservative in comparison with the regular Berlin party or concert goer. 

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An equally approachable but also intellectually interesting counterpart to the serious atmosphere during most performances was the queer show by the Berliner based group The Great Hans Unstern Swindle. With a mix of spoken word, gypsy music in a Bar 25 style, and self-made instruments they showed that avant-garde doesn’t need to be stiff. The performers invite the listeners into a metamodern world: between a glowing balloon installation the audience encountered a mix of irony and sincerity. The Great Hans Unstern Swindle sent everyone on what the festival had promised to be a “metaphysical journey in contemporary experimental music for transforming experiences.”


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A L'arme Festival! took place at Berghain and RadialsystemV between the 27th and 30th of July. Over 60 artists performed during the four day festival.

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