Ort: Köln - Kulturbunker
First we take Cologne, then we take Berlin! I think Mirko Uhlig was just as surprised to suddenly find himself with two concert dates in one month as I was. To be sure, his “Aalfang mit Pferdekopf”-project had quietly but surely made its way into the public mind, allowing him to release with some of the finest small labels around and dividing listeners between those who thought his debut “Im Schlachthof blühen die Blumen” (‘Flowers blossom in the abbatoir”) brilliant and those who ridiculed it. Half-jokingly I declared 2005 to be “the year of the eel” (as a reference to Neil Young’s “Year of the Horse”) and watched time go by without too much happening. “Aalfang” to me always seemed to be about following your instincts – there’s no grand scheme behind the music: You either like it or you don’t – and I had the feeling that there was only a small group of people who “got it”.
Then, suddenly and well-syncronised, both Till Kniola and Robert Schalinski asked Mirko to perform in their respective clubs – a great sign for an aspiring act, as Robert is the man behind the great “Column One” and Till one of the most active personas in the German experimental electronics scene and a good friend of insider-gurus such as prolific Asmus Tietchens. I was happy to be asked by Mirko to join him on stage and visited him in his small but comfortable Bonn-based headquarters. As always, there were no great discussions, ideas were put forward and either immediately welcomed or dismissed. Most of the time, we would just listen to some music and talk, while developing the show, drinking from a plethora of root beer we had bought at the supermarket round the corner. What we ended up with was probably the antithesis to your regular cultural night out and rather a performance than a concert: We would enter the stage dressed up as dockers, with me carrying a heavy suitcase. While the music slowly developed from a cold and monotonous drone into warmer shades and then even majestic melodies, we would slowly prepare a tea ceremony, have a cup of Genmaicha, before chosing to paint our body with water colours (mirko) and immersing in a relaxing foot bath (me). Finally, I would recite a frenzy-ridden Dutch story, before both of us would get up to tear apart the most recent copy of the German “Musik Express”-magazine. We were pretty sure that we liked it, but that was about all we were sure about. We hoped that’d be enough and left for Cologne.
The Kulturbunker is one of the most impressive concert venues around: A solid grey building, both scary and awe-inspiring from the outside, like a labyrinthic rubic’s cube from the inside. Lots of small-sized rooms, which will find you disrupting a yoga- or sign language-lesson when opening the wrong door. We arrive well on time and find the boys from Contagious Orgasm (the main act for he night) already setting up their equipment. These are some really cool guys, who have been in the business for some twenty years and travelled both a long way to get here (they hail from Japan) as well as from their brutal and obscure noise-roots to the rhythmical and magically colourful soundscapes they are now famous for. We introduce ourselves and sit down to talk a bit, before preparing everything for our part of the show. Till comes by and we ask him for a bucket (he doesn’t yet know that I will use it to pour liters of mineral water and then wet my feet). The sound check is the best part of the early evening: Just to be able to listen to the music on these kind of speakers has been worth the voyage. Till returns with the necessary props and he invites us to join him and our Japanese friends for dinner in a Turkish restaurant down the road. There, Contagious Orgasm reveal to us that they are still excited before playing live (after all this time!) and let us have most of their pizza. After having devoured an incredibly sweet portion of bacclava each (and subsequently ended up with a sugar shock) we return to wait for the first guests. At eight o’clock, they slowly start dripping in and we welcome some of our friends to the “backstage area” and the beatiful balcony, from whence we have a great view on the room. Each visitor is greeted with a special “Aalfang”-CD with three exclusive tracks – the total run is ten copies worldwide, so if you want one, you’ll have to search Kazaa. We exchange albums with the Japanese and then it’s time to go on stage. The three-quarters of an hour just fly by and the only thing I forget is to hand Mirko his copy of “Ron Kelly”, an incredibly cheesy science fiction series he was to read while waiting for the tea. The audience seems to like it and we are glad to have made it through, still wide awake from adrenalin.
Then, we take our seats in the audience and wait for Contagious Orgasm – they have promised a concise set and they deliver: Not much longer than half an hour, but with more ideas than some operas and brimming with energy and joy. From an almost danceable beginning, the music gets harder and more direct, though always remaing groovy and electrifying. One-tone melodies screaking like an alarm clock at five o clock in the morning hover above Asian ambiances and precisely marching bass drums. There’s no visible interaction between the players, who merely sway their heads in sync and sometimes misteriously move their hands over their mixers, as if charming a snake. There’s not a single glance at the audience, looks are fixed on their monitors in utmost concentration, but still one can not but feel entirely connected with what’s happening. The show ends with a bang and then there’s smiles all around.
We all have a beer afterwards and talk a little about what’s up next – Conteagous Orgasm are to move on to Frankfurt the next night and Mirko, our friends and myself are to drive home and settle back into our day jobs, before leaving for Berlin at the end of the month. It’s been a great night – thanks to everyone involved and hope to see you soon!