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. 


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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