Since surfacing in 2010 with a Lindsey Lohan-inspired compilation, Robin Carolan's Tri Angle has repeatedly proven itself as an ever-intriguing label. Shedding the dubious "witch house" yoke impressed upon it from early signings Balam Acab and oOoOO, the Tri Angle repertoire of shuddering pop, hip-hop and dark wave electronica has flourished into a genre-less "something" unto its own, all while accommodating dubstep, drone and UK bass sensibilities over the last quarter via its burgeoning British troupe—Holy Other, The Haxan Cloak and Evian Christ. Now 18 months on, the crew seem at peak mystique—so what better time to take the Tri Angle show on the road?
The outfit's February 2nd outing at Berghain—in conjunction with the twelfth edition of Berlin's citywide CTM (AKA Transmediale) festival—served as the first stop of the label's maiden European tour, and with rumours of tickets going for €50 on the door, it seemed like the Tri Angle phenomenon had even the 4/4 capital whipped into a frenzy. Sure enough the Mecca was clogged, only this time with quite a different set of worshippers.
oOoOO opened festivities, but by our arrival was already making way for the 20-year-old Alec Koone. Accompanied by Morgan Elizabeth—one of the "helium angels" on Wander/Wonder and fully-fledged band member since the end of 2011—Balam Acab treated us to a pop concert of the utmost poignancy. Eyes were closed. Tears were (possibly) shed, and then…"See Birds (Sun)" happened, ripping us from our internal meditations to bask in bliss and dance as one. They closed on "Big Boy," which in this context—steered by Elizabeth's luscious vocals—bloomed into the dreamy sing-along not quite achieved on record, flaunting it—and indeed Balam Acab's ultimately poppy, melodic core—to full effect.
Holy Other's set took us back to dance floor territory, of—for want of a better referral—the pre-breakdown-driven dubstep ilk: moody, spacious and irresistibly bassy. There were concert moments too, but more dense and droning than those from Balam Acab. Close your eyes and there could easily have been one of the instrumental Hydra Heads on stage, instead of a veiled man and his electronic ensemble. Kuedo closed with a DJ-set, and while not a Tri Angle affiliate per se, is as much in tune with the roster's inventive aesthetic with his work as a solo artist and with his former Vex'd outfit. Admittedly the mastery and subtle genius of 2011 full-length Serverant did pass me by the first time. It wasn't until seeing him DJ, with his spectral music tastes stripped down to jostling and disparate tracks that the tiered and time-hopping LP really made sense.