Grounded Theory is 50! Since its beginning in 2009, Grounded Theory has grown from a bracing new idea in Berlin techno to an institution of artistic nightlife both at its home and around the continent. Directed with acute vision and unerring judgment, its philosophy extracted from Henning Baer’s long years at the front lines of electronic music, it remains diverse and cutting edge. Grounded Theory combines music from different eras and areas, remaining rooted in techno while shedding light on sounds less frequently heard on Berlin dance floors: forward UK music, experimental electronics, and underground techno names from across the globe, both new and established. Welcome to Number 50.
The excellently curated Experimental electronic musician Kyoka began taking piano lessons as a preschooler and continued until she was a teenager. During this time, she experimented with tape recorders and itched to improvise and make music of her own. After she left her home to study economics in Tokyo, Kyoka purchased a Roland MC-505 — a drum machine, sequencer, and MIDI controller — and recorded tracks that led to her first releases for the Onpa label. Ufunfunfufu (2008) and 2 Ufunfunfufu (2009) brought about an association with Raster-Noton, during which she released the EP ISH (2012) and album Is (Is Superpowered) (2014). A refined set that switched from gentle electronic pop to lean industrial techno, Is (Is Superpowered) preceded an appearance on CI, from Raster-Noton leaders Byetone and Alva Noto’s Diamond Version project. Phillip Sollmann aka Efdemin is a mainstay of techno’s days and nights and operates his label naïf. Calm, cool and collected, Efdemin’s music is infused by elegant darkness, discreet beauty and the complete lack of jittery. With LPs and 12-inches for Dial or Curle, his remixes (e.g. Depeche Mode), his Pigon project together with RNDM or his drone and ambient pieces under his original name Phillip Sollmann for instance, Efdemin is equally at home in very different circles. Returning artists Sid+Eddy aka Schwefelgelb is a Techno Body Music duo from Berlin. Their 2017 EP “Dahinter Das Gesicht” appears on [aufnahme + wiedergabe] and is now out in third pressing. The powerful physical aspect of their music is being represented in their live shows, which they complement with synced strobe lights and projections. Sid+Eddy have performed all over Europe and in Canada and Japan. A resident of Berlin’s inner east-side for the best part of a decade, Colombian-born artist and mate from the hood, Pablo Mateo, is a DJ and producer of driving energy and flair. An in demand selector across Berlin and Germany, Mateo is no stranger to the dancefloors. With his label Artful Rifle founded in 2017 for what Mateo calls “non-serious” techno, critics file his productions as premium, adventurous, rhythm tracks. Furthermore, he’s been applauded for providing the leftfield sounds of Oliver Hafenbauer’s Die Orakel label with its best release to date. The alive and electric feel of Mateo’s music mirrors his personality and approach to the dancefloor, which is nothing short of bombastic, fresh, diverse and ready to be heard. In the +4Bar: Returning DJ Kristian Jabs is Pessimist, a UK artist with many excellent releases on Blackest Ever Black, the London-based label founded by Kiran Sande. In 2017 he released a full-length self-titled album on the label which the label calls a “noir, smoked-out dubscape” full of “jungle tear-outs,” “acidic rave,” “downtempo breakbeat” and “bombed-out industrial ambience.” The album clearly represents the culmination of nearly a decade of collective research and development in underground drum’n’bass, reinventing/deconstructing the jungle-techno relationship. Stockholm’s Philippa Pacho, a veteran of the Swedish rave scene and resident at the capital’s notorious Under Bron club. Philippa is also one-half of the duo Sthlm Murder Girls together with Johanna Schneider. They’ve played at all the major floors in Sweden, and have quite a following in Berlin, having performed sets at many of the German capital’s underground clubs. Philippa is now based in Berlin and we welcome her to the Tresor decks.