CTM, Berlin’s festival for “adventurous music and art,” offers a wide variety of musical experiences. This year’s action, which ranged from Chinese club experimentalists and Holly Herndon’s utopian ensemble to gabber and hardcore infiltrating Berghain, was centred around a single theme: “Turmoil.” The word was interpreted in many different ways across the ten-day period. In a world of precarious employment, physical displacement, emotional detachment and hyper-digitization, the current cultural moment is filled to the brim with turmoil. But its connotations aren’t all negative: “turmoil” can also serve as a creative catalyst, and during CTM’s daytime lectures it was often cited by artists as a powerful source of inspiration. Indeed, the music I found myself enjoying the most contained an optimistic energy. My highlights were those moments when all pessimism faded away and pure joy erupted on the dance floor.
Here are five key performances from CTM 2018.