As a date wreathed in spiritual and superstitious connotations, November 11th 2011—11.11.11—was globally marked by new age festivities, an apparent flux of marriages and births and even a horror film. Erstwhile in Berlin, in the bowels of Berghain, attendees of the inaugural Not Equal night were exposed to another kind of awakening: a sonically induced alteration of the mind as lasting as the inherent tinnitus that comes from quite literally being blown away.
Cooked up by the proverbial sticky fingered Michail Stangl, whose list of pies include being a part of Leisure System, Boiler Room, Densehall and just about every "other"-type club night in Berlin, the Not Equal series is his most conceptual yet, designed to skewer the very parameters and presuppositions of electronic music possible within the context of a club. It is a program-led approach that, while driving the Leisure System vehicle and undoubtedly all of Stangl's promotion endeavors, was most potently proven this time as a packed-out Berghain ebbed effortlessly from awestruck concert motionlessness to uninhibited displays of grueling bass appreciation.
The seamlessness of it all climaxed with Demdike Stare, who coupled their spirit-summoning techno set with a pastiche of visual horror that, for the first part, turned the entire crowd to stone, a spell eventually weathered over a suspended course of time by the pair's metrical hypnotism. By the end of their set, the whole floor had been brought back to life, though at what stage exactly I cannot say, being fully entranced myself. Modern Love labelmate Andy Stott similarly toyed with danceability, using the pull of disparate tracks alone to sweep us from eyes closed head nodding into a flailing limbs rave-up, almost unconsciously.
Many times throughout the evening I thought that "it doesn't get better than this." And then it did. By all means—if you haven't already—listen to Emptyset, but heard through anything less than a Funktion One sound system is doing them a disservice. Blackest Ever Black duo Raime then used a DJ (not live) set to wield their love of jungle to shin shattering effect. After a barraging four hours of cumulative intensity, by the time Milton Bradley took to the decks I was spent. While there is a hundred year wait for the next 11.11.11, Not Equal returns to Berghain in February. My advice? Go. Experience this for yourself. Quite simply, stunning.