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Felix K, Ena & James Ginzburg on MONOM

Felix K, Ena & James Ginzburg on MONOM
Jack Smith

MONOM is an experimental performance venue like no other. Having opened its doors in December last year at Funkhaus – Berlin’s iconic former-GDR broadcast centre – the venue’s state-of-the-art 4DSOUND studio promises an audiophile-technical masterclass with each new listing.

So we were particularly thrilled to discover that a collection of our favourite artists are collaborating for its new season. Felix K and Ena will be joined by Emptyset‘s James Ginzburg for a couple of tantalising residency shows in April. Furthermore, each composition will be crafted specifically for the system and specifically for each night – one-off performances in every sense of the word.

We asked the artists to elaborate on their creative process with the system during their residency at MONOM, and how it will inform their approach for each of their shows.

What does spatial sound mean to you? 

Ena: The term spatial sound was mostly familiar to me as “surround” multi-channel set up such as cinemas, 5.1 channel system or Oktophonie which I played with at Berlin Atonal 2017 which were more like the extension of stereo concept. However, after visiting MONOM, my perception of the term changed. I found the concept of 4DSOUND completely different to what I knew up to now. While surround system give multiple directions to the sound, it still comes from a speaker. However, 4DSOUND enables you to give each sound a position, distance, direction regardless of where the speakers, even outside of the actual physical space.


What are you most looking forward to exploring / experimenting with on the 4DSOUND system during your upcoming MONOM residency?


More than the technical possibilities, I’m very curious to explore and experiment with the psychological impact you can create using the 4DSOUND system.

Because I’ve been working with bass-focused music for a very long time, I feel like I know a lot about the physical impact low frequency sounds can give. However, 4DSOUND has the unknown potential to explore not only the physical but the psychological impact using the sound, so I’m particularly looking forward to develop new music that effectively incorporate this potential.

What is your approach for the artist residency / creation of your piece for MONOM? Are you already planning certain elements or will you let the space and instrument inspire you and take it from there?

Ena: I have thought about some ideas and I did bring some elements but after visiting the studio, I have entirely new inspirations. To take the full advantage of the system and its potential, we both feel like we need to develop something completely new. It’s possible to play out some of our old materials, samples or loops, but I don’t think that does justice to the system. We have not discussed specific ideas yet, but Felix is someone I get along very well and have similar work flow, so I’m sure it will take shape naturally.

Felix: Before starting to put my hands on the preparations it is hard to tell because with a new system like the 4DSound I have to get used to a bit. Ena and I have just started to put our heads together and we will follow trial and error. To give a hint, our goal is to turn the static room by eyes into a surreal moving room by ears. But the main concept will be developed as soon as we actually sit in front of the screens.


James Ginzburg on spatial sound

I went to an Russian orthodox monastery outside of Moscow the other day and accidentally walked in on a corpse accompanied by a pair of quiet mourners – the services were in other churches. We closed the door as politely as possible and moved through a number of chapels in which small choirs had been assembled in opposite sides of the room and, where the architecture allowed for it, different elevations. The effect of hearing this beautiful and simple music overcame me, and the sense of space that was created, and the sense of relationship that was created by using this space in such a way, encompassing life, death and transcendence drove my mind towards the question of whether engaging with the world in a profound and immediate way is threatened by attempting to synthesise worlds with technology. I have not, after all, made sense of the world I live in, let alone the technologically augmented world. At the same time sound-system culture in particular was something that gave me a tremendous amount of hope when I came across it as a teenager. I believed that the possibility of creating new worlds of sound and experience allowed for an expansion of perspective that could shatter the calcified conditioned ways of looking at the world that I had gone out into my life with.

The situations set up in these chapels are created as such in order to create a shift in perspective from the mundane to something more essential, and I don’t see any reason why any environment couldn’t be employed in such a way, though I think we lack a degree of skill in creating the kind of social cohesion such a rich and old set of traditions creates.

We have at our disposal an unprecedented technological capacity for designing experiences.

The questions this provokes in me foremost concern how these resources are used to nourish our relationship with our minds, world and social contexts.


Felix K, Ena and James Ginzburg play MONOM on 12 + 13 April. For more info and tickets click here.