Sunday, 3 August 2008

Returned back to Berlin last night in a glorious hot sunset past rows and rows of tracks, miniature houses and deep encampments of linear-planted pine. This morning seems volatile both in direction and environment. Heat rises through the courtyards, that heat termed foreign heat by my oldest friend, that heat which makes a place seem foreign. It is so unlike an English heat which exists only in direction and is never held.

Yesterday I played at Camp Tipsy, a drawn-out, mid-afternoon set of low frequency strings, animal noises and the whining drones of an underpowered cassette player. The festival was some way out of town; we took our bikes on the red double-decked train, got off at the station, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and followed tied balloons along forest tracks to reach the site in torrential rain. The festival took place in a series of small fields and enclosures, centred around a cute campsite within which, heralded by the eventual sun’s compliance, folks withdrew from their tents and formed circles of games and impromptu music.

To walk you round the site if you had not been there, that would be a thing. The perimeter of the campsite was stalls and workshops, the odd vegan restaurant and, at the far end, the tepee enclosure. Beyond this were three stages, deeper into the woods. Underneath awnings stretched out between tall, thin pines were dancing floors and speakers and endless streams of mixed sounds. Cling-film mazes, golden-clad tree trunks, secludes patches of light, streams of lamps, dens of cushions and fabrics were all hidden in the folds and twists of the wood’s dim perpetual sundown. Further on was the cinema, where we arrived late at night after rain to see black and white German films, characters holding conversations in mirrors, entirely incongruous against the graded shadows which disappeared into black behind the screen like a crosshatch in motion.

At the bottom of the site, so said because you had to travel down a hill to get there, was an element of absurdity. A trout-fishing lake, two or three oxbows and a quick little river, surrounded by clumps of anglers each pushing and barging for elbow-room and tossing their coloured floats into their allotted three feet of water. Fish, meanwhile, could be seen beneath the surface, mellow gently moving shadows oblivious to the ridiculous lures being hauled through the water in opposition to the water’s flow. Next-door, a giant shed for breeding the fish, vibrant neon blue tanks of lazy fish swimming in circles beneath charts and charts documenting their Latin names and range of colours. In the corner of the shed were three tin cupboards with fires lit in their bellies, smoking row upon row of bronzed fish, their tiny teeth glinting under the strip lighting. All of this observed by a steady, hilarious trickle of inebriated vertebrates, clutching at bottles and cans and hungry.

Two more stages, one underneath a huge glitterball, lay further round the corner. The second was covered by enormous sheets of fabric with hundreds of circular holes, the stage on multiple levels and facing out towards four speaker stacks pointing in towards each other. Round the edges, dilapidated benches and large sawn logs for listeners, and a murky still pond full of dark lily leaves. I played here following acoustic experiments with static radios and toy cars and before an emissions test and two men with bypassed and bent-circuitry, their keyboards displaying growths of switchers and dials.

On Saturday afternoon, having woken too early, Cara and I took the bicycles out into the woods, riding over train lines until we were lost, until we were surrounded by forests as far as we could see, still damp and noisy with drops of water cascading through the leaves. Red squirrels and turquoise dragonflies scampered and flew, and remembering them now, sat back in the apartment on a slow Sunday seems inevitable and distant. Still, something to talk about, something to influence the everyday. Today I play again at an anti-radio radio broadcast, a four hour collaboration in a gallery in Neukolln and one wonders what the chances are of recorded natural sounds from a forest east of Berlin appearing somewhere in the landscape of sound.