with a moniker like matrixxman, it’s no surprise that charlie duff has time on his mind. a san francisco based DJ/producer with roots in arlington, virginia, duff has only been making music as matrixxman for a handful of years, sparked by an early listen to a juan atkins mix cd. although his musical history spans hip-hop and chicago house, his techno is hard-edged, restrained, impeccably produced with the gravitas of an artist who’s been in the game for decades. an infatuation with computers, AI, and technology has led duff to a kind of intrinsic interest in futurism — a techno DJ fundamental that, whether he likes it or not, permeates everything from his DJ sets to his productions.
do you believe in time travel?
i have mixed feelings on the subject. it’s something that i wouldn’t rule out of the realm of possibility for other highly advanced civilizations although i’m inclined to think we don’t realize said technology here on earth. or that if we do, maybe it’s only one-sided — like we can travel forward but not backward, otherwise we most likely would have undone things like the holocaust, slavery, or other events that we deeply regret as a species.
rrose inhabits a parallel dimension. at least, that’s what she’d have you believe. her music is grounded in the kind of thoughtful electronic elements that make her a perfect fit for lucy’s stroboscopic artefacts label, but at the same time, she is outlandish enough that her transportive 2015 album, never having written a note for percussion (comprised solely of a one-gong percussion piece) made perfect sense. she’s one of electronic music’s more mysterious figures, an artist that flits between not only genres, but between pronouns and perhaps even personalities.
it’s with this in mind that i accept rrose’s offer to meet at a sound bath meditation session hosted by stoboscopic boss, lucy. taking place one a month at the studio sonne in neukölln, it’s almost too fitting a setting for our talk. lucy helms the meditation session, starting out with breathing exercises before the sound bath — accomplished with a 90 cm handcrafted nepalese gong and three different mallets — begins. it’s true what they say about gong baths; it’s mere minutes before things really start to bend. the experience overall is more soul-shaking than i would have thought: once you let go and give in to the sound, you start to understand what rrose means by “parallel dimensions.”
“says” that you play when your mind is wandering because every note seems to travel, too. you listened to this record so many times you could have worn it out and when you finally heard it live you understood what it means to be blown away by music. sound. movement. everything. you spent months organising an interview with nils. the work was your chef d’oeuvre, the thing you put your everything into, and when you showed up at his flat the walls were so white. stacks of records. more pianos than you could count. you smoked cigarettes with him and drank coffee and talked about silver apples of the moon. he sat down to play and you literally held your breath. everyone was quiet and the silence lasted a year until he started to play and it felt like fireworks.
there’s something to be said about sundays in berlin. unlike many other cities, there’s never a shortage of things to do on any given sunday in this city, and whether you’re brunching, burning the dancefloor at berghain, or shopping at mauerpark, there’s something strangely special about the way berliners take on what’s usually the week’s sleepiest day. certainly, then, there’s something to be said about lekker collective, a small PR agency that’s bringing a new warmth to your sunday schedule.
there are a number of great festivals around, but none have come as close to perfecting the art of the music festival as unsound has. twelve years in and unsound still has more than a few tricks up its sleeves, including this year’s theme: surprise. a relatively simple one to be sure, but one that managed to astound, delight, and confound in equal measures. the premise was straightforward: organizers announced a select number of this year’s performers, the rest would be discovered as they came on stage and later announced through the festival’s social media channels. while this may come off as gimmicky on paper, it worked remarkably well in practice. but a theme is just a theme and does not a festival make. these are only some of the many reasons why this edition of unsound might have almost achieved perfection.