Brockmann // Bargmann compose a dystopian future with dark, sinister guitars and synths in their new EP – Apokalypse Berlin

Brockmann Bargmann

Hearing track previews of the EP before the gig felt like just a slight undertone of the intensely charged live performance by krautrock duo Brockmann // Bargmann.

This event was my first encounter with the compositions of Timm Brockmann (keyboards) and Franz Bargmann (guitar) although they have been contributing to the contemporary krautrock and experimental music scene in Germany for the past decade or more (also through the collective Camera).

I came to the concert with a certain dose of expectation about the sound of ”Apokalypse Berlin” and no expectation at all for the supporting act Dirge (Dirk Markham, editor of Digital in Berlin) as I never heard of him before.

To my surprise, the warm-up of the small but anticipating audience was a wonderful journey, not only on guitar and synth loops but visuals too. There was an animation, created throughout the performance and projected on the wall as a background to the cosmic sounds. It was done by scultiping black playdough into the shape of a human, which kept on ‘’running around’’ in what I think was the vicious circle of life and karmic laws.

little flute which felt like the only binding element between machine-made music and the joyful human songs

The crafty process of both sound arrangement and animation reminded me of the meditative and outer worldly works of the Tibetan monks, making sand mandalas and destroying them after completion. Towards the end, Dirge added to the synthy, spacey sounds a harmonica and a little flute which felt like the only binding element between machine-made music and the joyful human songs.

Trusting the process and being present with the improvised musical piece was a wonderful interlude to the night and demonstrated the beauty of uncertainty in exploring new techniques. You can hear Dirge’s piece here:

The awaited main act started after a small pause in which people were shifting from the obscure, abstract music back into the Neukölln reality of bar Internet Explorer.

I’ve heard people complain about the sound in this and surrounding venues in the old factory lofts just across the river from Sonnenallee S-bahn station. Normally when there is an electronic, house or techno party happening, the old windows and walls are shaking and the acoustics are damaging the frequencies, but in this case, the downsides ware complimenting perfectly the dystopian futuristic mood.

dark atmospheric sound trip, again accompanied by vivid animated projections

Brockmann // Bargmann started tuning in, slowly embarking on the dark atmospheric sound trip, again accompanied by vivid animated projections. The first piece ‘’2050’’ is a slow interlude to the nostalgic album, yet with organic melodies that sound like a wise, magical forest to me.

The story of a conflicted future between machines and humans unfolds with the next songs ‘’A.I.’’ which starts ghostly, hollow and then develops a deep rhythmic sound, or the tenacious, at times distorted and urgent track ‘’MDCB’’ with electrifying strings. ‘’Rain’’ has a warmer feel to me, with little added layers of blossoming sounds, building up to the harmonic, peaceful and vast landscape that ‘’Intex’’ closes the EP with.

The dramatic climax and emotional charge is a beautiful apocalypse to imagine.

The fascination of incorporating artificial intelligence to wider aspects of our being and sense of nostalgia for the simple life was presented through a continuous, hour-long playing, improvised at times and had just about the right amount of intense peaks and quieter, reflecting lows.

It engulfed me in a cloud of melancholy, but still, there was the beauty of organic melodies and natural soundscapes coming through the predominantly serious and disturbing electro/prog/ambient compositions. It was a pleasure to experience this music performed live.

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