The first edition of a new event series called Polymorphism will take place tonight at KaterHolzig.
As a quick look through the dictionary will tell you, the term "polymorphism" refers to the occurrence of something in various forms. Vague as this may be, it's a perfect title for the new Berlin series. Polymorphism is an offshoot of CTM, and shares that annual festival's taste for "adventurous" artists, or more specifically, artists that reflect the increasingly cross-pollinated state of contemporary music, electronic and otherwise. The first two events feature labels that exemplify this phenomenon: 100% Silk and Hippos in Tanks. The former is represented tonight at KaterHolzig by Maria Minerva, Italic, LA Vampires, Magic Touch, Heatsick and Bill Kouligas. Hippos in Tanks take over next Friday at Berghain with James Ferraro, Laurel Halo and Nguzunguzu among others.
Reached at his office in Berlin this week, organizer Jan Rohlf went into depth about the concept that drives Polymorphism:
How would you describe the main idea behind the series?
We find that music at the moment, or music culture, is more diverse than it ever has been—the range of various aesthetics, the range of artistic approaches, the range of styles etc. And also musical tastes: what listeners are willing to digest is wider than ever these days, taste has become less exclusive and more inclusive. We want to tap into and reflect on this progression by presenting labels or clusters of artists that we feel are outside the usual categories that we all have learned to use when we look at music—labels and networks that draw many influences together and also shoot out many different musical tropes at the same time. So pointing into various directions in one moment and not trying to make a clear, streamlined proposal that points in one aesthetic direction.
Take 100% Silk or Hippos In Tanks for example. In the end, with 100% Silk you have some kind of proper dance music, but you feel that there's a broad variety of influences involved from musical styles that have nothing to do with dance music, so they end up broadening the idea of dance music. And it's interesting especially for Berlin where we have had for the past years, I think, a quite narrowed-down vision of what club music could be or should be.
Even if tastes and styles are broadening, is it still difficult to get people interested in this kind of left-field music?
Yeah, I mean, of course what I'm saying here is more of a tendency in culture as a whole, but of course it's not the case that everyone out there on the street is really so open-minded. It's something that's in development. I would say it's also a forecast into the future. But yes, it's still difficult to attract a large audience to certain types of weird or strange or difficult music, but what's obvious is that it's not always the same small group of people these days. If you take the audience at these events and ask them what kind of thing they usually go to or what kind of music they listen to, you would find a really broad range with a lot of stark contrasts. Some people like going to the Philharmonie, and then maybe enjoy listening to Lady Gaga and then they go to some kind of weird noise concert or something, or they go to Grimes and they love it because it has a kind of authenticity but it also has this mainstream potential, and the next day these same people would go to the Wax Treatment party because it's this kind of community thing where they know it's not at all about any ideas of mass culture.
I find that people are really non-ideological these days. It's really truly about whether this music rings a bell somehow or is connected to something that you are interested or emotionally connected with, or rings true with certain trajectories in your own life, so to speak. These broader umbrella terms are becoming less important: a scene, an ideology, or a certain style, a kind of formal system, etc. I think we left that pretty much behind, so now the question is of course whether this is good or not, what does it mean and what potential does it bring for music or for music economy or for art in general? I think this is some kind of open and rather relevant question at the moment.
We also want to use this Polymorphism series to kind of lead towards CTM '13 festival next February, where we want to look at those questions in a more intense way
actually, so this Polymorphism event is preparation for a longer term discourse that we want to spark.
No details have been confirmed for the second round of Polymorphism events, which Rohlf expects to happen sometime in the fall.