When the entire nightlife pressed the pause button a few months ago, we really had to completely rethink how we experience Berlin. This was especially noticeable to us when we were putting together our event listings. All of a sudden the calendar was empty, then slowly it filled up again with streaming events, and eventually, IRL events returned, but not in the same way as before.
The sound installation “Eleven Songs” that happened at Halle am Berghain a few weeks ago was one of these events that stood out: Through its iconic venue it bridged the longing for a return of the club culture and our craving for a cultural and artistic experience. It was, as to be expected, a huge success.
But this is actually not the only event that focussed on sound as an art form. For the past months, the event series Sound Sculptures has been taking place at Monom, a very special venue at Funkhaus Nalepastraße. We’ve heard of this place before, even tried to go there once, but it took the quiet period after the lockdown for us to finally take the time to venture out there again and take a closer look – or better – a close listen.
Monom is the home to a very special speaker system designed by 4DSOUND System. To call it a speaker system is actually an understatement – in fact, its an instrument, and the 48 speakers installed in a formation of columns are actually just a part of it. The instrument was designed to explore the possibilities of spatial sound. As part of a residency program, sound artists are able to compose pieces at Monom taking full advantage of the innovative technology. The aforementioned event series made these pieces available to audiences at special listening sessions that happen in complete darkness.
At our visit, the veil was lifted for us and we got to see Monom and the 4DSOUND System in daylight. It’s an impressive set-up with industrial grid columns that remind you more of elaborate club decoration rather than speakers. We got to listen to extracts from several pieces from the artists. It was certainly a mind-bending experience because the sound was unlike anything you have heard before and it moves around you like an object that defies the laws of physics. To describe what I heard is really hard. It’s not music, it’s not sound effects either, it’s acoustic art. You definitely have to take your time and let it flow over you and try to let go of your expectations of a “listening session”.
One piece that stood out for me, in particular, was “Lost Spaces: Rainforests” by William Russell. It’s what he describes as a fictional nature documentary. It’s a hypnotic soundscape of layered jungle noises mixed with voices, artificial sounds and even music, that manages to tell an understandable story just through the sound. It’s very impressive and moving – a strong statement about the environmental crisis we are living in.
If you are curious now about this special experience I recommend you check out one of their upcoming events. This weekend there will be another Sound Sculptures event. On both Saturday and Sunday, there will be five 2-hour sessions starting at 14h, 16h, 18h, 20h, and 22h that you can book tickets for here. Because of the covid measures there are only a few people allowed per session, so book your tickets soon! After each of those sessions, the audience will be led to the lounge where they can have drinks and chats. We hope to see you there!