Since it’s 23 year hiatus, Berlin’s most important and innovative experimental music festival returns yet again in 2015 with a cacophony of triumphant bangs and crashes. Berlin Atonal was founded in 1982 by Dimitri Hegemann, community organizer and cultural activist, and for over a decade it was the ultimate goal for underground noise musicians and artists in which to showcase their creations. Originally held at notorious rock club SO36, it featured the most revolutionary acts in experimental and industrial music, like Psychic TV, Einstürznede Neubauten, and Die Haut among many others. The festival stopped in 1990 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but all was not lost for electronic music lovers. Hegemann went on to open techno club Tresor, nowadays one of the most popular clubs in Berlin for electronic enthusiasts, keen tourists, and everything in between.
Since its re-opening in 2013, Berlin Atonal takes place in the huge abandoned powerplant that Tresor shares. For five nights, the space becomes a futuristic mecca haunted by the sounds of its industrial past. The space is almost too large to comprehend- no matter how far you crane your neck to look upwards, the ceiling seems a thousand miles away. Crowds clad in black scuttle relentlessly up and down the gargantuan concrete staircase, like ants marching mindlessly to a tasty grease spill. No matter where you in are this vast apocalyptic catacomb, the sound is just as intense, with heavyweight subwoofers blending seamlessly into the surrounding darkness.
The festival features performances, installations and workshops from over 50 artists, and since its re-launch has boasted names like Jon Hassell, David Borden, Murcof, and more. There is also a huge selection of street-food stalls set up outside, along with some seating set up under a canopy of fairy lights. Although beware that the transition from inside to outside will leave you confused and maybe questioning your existence. For those that never want to leave, there is an after-show party to close the festival that continues until the sun sits high in the sky.