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It is a return to Europe that frames the history of electronic music.
It' s 15 years ago that Richard D James aphex Twin performed on Germany for the last time, and in the run-up to his strangely controversial show of return to Funkhaus, which is almost as historical, they try to unearth AFX rave Partyflyers now. "No, two references, throughout history, that's all I can find," headlines a U.S. man, next to scanning two shredded old poster.
Chatting is going on simultaneously with a large number of folks who are issuing last-minute passes - when the show was already heralded in May, it was a show that presumably took place in Funkhaus' great auditorium of the sozialist age. A confusing schedule two and a half nights before the show unveils that Aphex Twin will not be released until the "Afterparty" in the large storage room next to the auditorium, which starts at 11 pm, so many poor Berlin performers complain when they have spent 70 Euro on a regular evening out.
Apart from the maladministration of expectations, the incident turns into a distorted history hour that talks both with Aphex Twin's own long heritage as an electronical innovator since the fall of the Berlin Wall and with the developing relation of the capitol to history and itself. The Funkhaus, which was erected in the fifties in the former East Berlin under the oppressive, strictly supervised gaze of the socialist GDR, was initially constructed by architect and acoustician together as a broadcasting center in order to catch sounds and musicians in such a sophisticated scientific way that every single syllable or treble stringed instrument could be brought back to the earth as sublime evidence of the socialist culture-technological victory.
This evening, what the former officials would make of their re-invention as the IDM' s sacred engraved sacred chapel is the kind of issue you had to ask yourself during the somewhat sluggish and unpleasant beginning of the show. In the first half hours it is not clear whether we will be dealt with Richard D James' minimum ambience catalog or whether the show has actually started because the video jump and the beeps and blups can be confused with device tests.
Impressions of the dark are, as always, provided by longtime collaboration artist Weirdcore, whose public face mappings have been a fixture on Aphex Twin shows for a ten year period, but this is the first truly German first. A less talked about thing is Aphex Twin's contributions to the emergence of High Concept'Live A/V' Performances - today always present at electronical shows around the globe - so although none of the moves shown this evening are new, it is a fitting memory of where the trends began.
After all, for Berlin itself the show is something of a turning point in its development into the European metropolis of parties. It is experimenting with a non-cash system where everyone has to buy prepaid tickets or load their credit card information in front of them. Ninety moments of Aphex Twin splendid sound in itself makes no less a pleasant event, perhaps just a more costly and less unexpected one.