stefan goldmann: live at philharmonie berlin (macro m63)
out 20 november 2020
In February 2020, the Philharmonie Berlin opened its gates for the first time in its history for a fully blown electronic music program. Strom Festival continued for two days across three of the Berlin landmark’s jagged spaces. Stefan Goldmann had been invited to serve as the festival’s artist-curator and also performed its inaugural concert in the building’s pentagonal Grand Hall. As much as this event was without precedent for one of the world’s leading classical music institutions, it is also an uncannily typical match for Goldmann’s rather unusual career path.
Though nominally techno, his music is distinguished by an ever-imaginative take on the form. From exploring asymmetric rhythms to designing novel tuning systems to re-imagining the technological base of electronic music – few have looked further beyond the genre’s functional foundations. Respectively, his music keeps appearing in contexts far removed from techno’s club institutions – featuring work with ensembles, dance companies, film makers and his own opera, as well as site-specific performances at venues such as Kyoto’s Honen-In Temple and LA’s LACMA museum.
‘Live At Philharmonie Berlin’ is closely tailored to the Grand Hall, featuring a wealth of material specifically developed to engage its architecture and acoustics. Apart from being a document that brilliantly captures the Philharmonie’s aural footprint with clear-cut synthetic probes, it also comes close to being a retrospective of Goldmann’s most striking formal ideas. Harking back to his early use of wavetable synthesis for highly liquid units of pitch, timbre and dynamics, his recent recontextualisations of industrial preset sounds and gradual shades of distortion fuse to shape the soundscape of the one hour performance. These sounds then swirl through shifting microtonal grids and freewheeling polyrhythms, solidifying into alien melodies, spiky transients and blocks of coloured noise.
Photography by Frankie Casillo.
Live visuals by Javier Benjamin.