This weekend: Dublab and the Goethe-Institut combine to celebrate German music, from Krautrock to Kraftwerk and beyond [Video]
Nestled within the million-plus square-foot Miracle Mile office complex known as the Wilshire Courtyard Campus, home to Comcast’s sprawling West Coast headquarters, is a lesser-known tenant with a highly specified take on the arts: the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, a public library and events coordinator dedicated to the proliferation of modern German culture.
“The Goethe was founded in the ’50s in the spirit of reconciliation,” said Stefan Kloo, Media Tech at the local branch of the international nonprofit whose budget is funded largely by the German government’s Foreign Office. “It evolved from recognizing that diplomatic efforts really only go so far, and that often more is attained by informal interactions.”
The pride of the L.A. Institut is its extensive film collection -- each of the Goethe’s 136 locations skews its holdings to its region -- but an upcoming event has Kloo and his coworkers teaming with the local Dublab music collective to inaugurate a collaboration aimed at celebrating the last 50 years of German music, from Krautrock to Kraftwerk to post-punk to indie electronica.
“Maybe you would expect us to focus on Bach and Beethoven,” said Margit Kleinman, head of Cultural Programs, “but they don’t need us. They don’t need the Goethe-Institut.”
The organization’s commitment to the arty and obscure fits well with the objectives of Dublab, whose primary output is an internationally renowned Internet radio station tended to by a cadre of DJs with an encyclopedic knowledge of psychedelic music and experimental pop.
Several of those -- Nanny Cantaloupe, Sam Cooper, Ale, Hoseh, Turquoise Wisdom and Mahssa -- will be spinning custom sets of German tunes at the Goethe on Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. while the Institut serves refreshments and curates a concurrent run of music-related film in its 130-seat auditorium. The party celebrates the launch of the German Sound Exploration Theme-Stream, a Teutonic takeover of Dublab’s airwaves set to run through May 1.
“Germany is one of those countries that produced the pillars of Dublab’s identity,” said Dublab co-head Alejandro “Ale” Cohen, who also cited Jamaica and Brazil as key creative strongholds. “Bands like Can and Kraftwerk were entry-points to a universe of music and an understanding of rhythm and melody that still feels new today. That music is a crucial influence on all of us.”
Cohen, who grew up in Argentina, frequently visited the Goethe-Institut Buenos Aires as a youth. A lifelong fan of the German industrial and Gothic movements, he relied upon the library to discover new music, and to bring the artists themselves into town for concerts and discussions.
His partner at Dublab, Mark “Frosty” McNeill, cited the influence of early-aughts electronic pop from the Notwist and the Morr Music imprint (Lali Puna, B. Fleischmann), underscoring the breadth of music that will be covered both on Saturday and in the Theme-Stream.
For the next month and a half, Dublab.com will be streaming archival in-studio performances and interviews with legendary artists like Cluster and Manuel Göttsching (Ash Ra Tempel), as well as new DJ sets culled from the Goethe’s collection, and exclusive mixes compiled by folks like label head Thomas Morr, Thomas Fehlmann of the Orb, and Notwist singer Markus Acher.
The two will also be launching a permanent micro-site to which both Goethe and Dublab will continue to contribute similar content. With the former’s connections, and roughly 20% of the latter’s listenership residing in Germany, the potential for growth seems exponential.
Kloo said it best: “It’s a match made in heaven.”
-- Chris Martins
Video: Can performing "Vitamin C" in 1970.