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Live Review: Laterne By Berlin Atonal

21 June 2019 | 5:46 pm | Jake Sun

"[A] wonderfully well-rounded evening of aural and visual exploration."

Lucrecia Dalt @ Dark Mofo/. Photo by Jesse Hunniford. Image Courtesy Dark Mofo.

Lucrecia Dalt @ Dark Mofo/. Photo by Jesse Hunniford. Image Courtesy Dark Mofo.

After an exceptional debut at last year's Dark Mofo, Berlin Atonal return with another two-day program of exploratory electronic music. They certainly set the bar high for themselves with the first Laterne, it being especially hard to imagine anything ever measuring up to Autechre's transcendent set, but by hedging their bets further to the fringes this time 'round, elements of surprise are certainly on their side.

Colombia's Lucrecia Dalt kicks the evening off to an intriguing start. Tonight's presentation of Synclines (the live complement to last year's Anticlines album) sees her draw from her background in geotechnical engineering to excavate the realms of ambient sound, using interpolations of spoken word poetry as her guiding light. For a brief moment, Dalt appears to lose momentum and attention instantly wavers in response, but she soon recovers and regains the favour of the early crowd.

Translating the apocalyptic vistas of last year's album The Drought, Danish-born, LA-based noise artist Puce Mary (aka Frederikke Hoffmeier) sets a contrasting tone from the moment she takes the stage. Crimson light pulses from vertical scaffolds encircling the room as Hoffmeier crafts a wonderful cacophony of electronic sound, interjected with sparse servings of vocals. It's a real treat throughout to hear her perform on such an incredible sound system and her climatic finale leaves the audience in utter awe.

The room is redressed in deep hues of blue to complement the spiritual sonic-searchings of Swiss producer Aisha Devi. An abstract lyricism drives the core of a performance that sees electronic elements oscillate around twisted vocal displays. In doing this, Devi fleshes out ambiguous soundscapes that curiously valley between organic matter and machine, drawing us deeper into their fold with every motion.   

The forceful opening beat of LABOUR presents next time, die consciously (بیگانگی) marks a distinct departure from preceding sets. A rapid succession of visuals, courtesy of Slovakian photographer Evelyn Bencicova, rhythmically counter an enlivening aural tapestry of live drums and electronics that energises the room. They push the performance furthest at the finale by encircling the room with a small army of live drummers, who hit upon solitary drums to their own beat, creating an unstable rhythmic movement - the effect is engaging, yet there's a lingering sense that it may have had a far greater effect still if placed partway through the set.

Menacing rave is the final order of the night, with Vatican Shadow (aka Dominick Fernow, aka Prurient) presents Media In The Service Of Terror drawing the room into a hypnotic close. Reels of hyper-coloured military footage ferment the room as Fernow furiously steers us headlong into a sonic storm, and the audience jumps at this last chance to get their dark groove on. It's a hauntingly powerful and confronting finale and a fitting end to a wonderfully well-rounded evening of aural and visual exploration - bring on round two!