On Wednesday evening, the elusive junk-E-cat made an appearance at Badehaus, an intimate venue tucked away in Friedrichshain’s RAW-Gelände.
Permanently adorned in a mask of dubious origin, the secretive performer’s shows are, we were lead to believe, something of a discourse in abstract creativity – and we were not disappointed.
Considering the multi-instrumentalist seems more at home making beats in abandoned buildings and city rooftops, the unpretentious Badehaus was an intriguing choice of setting. Hidden in the heart of the city’s creative hub, it’s a gem of a venue – a labyrinth of secret rooms and clandestine corners, expect to discover something new every time you’re there. His set was simple yet innovative – three screens displaying drone footage from every city visited on the tour provided a compelling and curious backdrop.
Serving up a delicious combination of techno and free jazz, classical and blues, the Berlin-based beatsmith employed a number of weird and wonderful tactics to create his distinctive sound. A melting pot of reed instruments, loop stations and finger drumming, his original and impossibly cool work is definitely something to pay attention to – it’s meditative and totally mesmerising.
Standing as more of an “immersive musical experience” than a traditional gig, so to speak, junk-E-cat’s weird and wonderful approach to industrialism is, ultimately, what Berlin’s been missing. It’s incredibly well-produced, and the killer soundsystem at Badehaus definitely did his work justice. The bass was somewhat akin to a minor earthquake; we can still feel it in our bones two days later. It’s totally hypnotic and surreal, and with incredibly complex and rich textures to boot, it’s not a performance you’ll gloss over in a few weeks time.
Layered polyrhythms and playful harmonies aside, there’s a delicate minimalism to his music which commands attention. He deconstructs the concept of experimental techno, before rebuilding it in his own unique fashion. It’s something new and exciting; you never quite know what to expect with a musician of this nature. Understandably, the audience seemed to be in something of a trance, as he delivered track after track with (seemingly) total effortlessness. The mystery surrounding him adds to his appeal; the chimpanzee-slash-anonymous mask apparently welded to his face complements the aesthetic of his music flawlessly.
It’s very easy for artists like this to get lost in the noise that is the Berlin scene; all too often, brilliant acts like this get swallowed up in a sea of mediocrity. It goes without saying that as a musician, he’s wildly underrated, with a number of feathers to his bow concerning the sheer number of instruments he’s clearly mastered. Fortunately (and rather refreshingly), there was a lot of love in the room for junk-E-cat, and judging from what we saw on Wednesday night, we’ll be seeing a lot more of him very soon.