Conrad Schnitzler & Ken Montgomery

Cas-Con II – Konzert in der Erlöserkirche, Ost-Berlin, 3.9.1986

Bureau B • 2023

The Erlöserkirche is a quasi-mythical place. During the 1980s, it served as a focal point for the punk scene in East Berlin because it was one of the few places in which clandestine concerts could be held. »CAS-CON II – Konzert in der Erlöserkirche, Ost-Berlin, 3.9.1986« documents such a concert, it was recorded by the artist Jörg Thomasius, part of the so-called »Kassettentäter« (»cassette perpetrators«) scene. The ampersand between the two artists mentioned on the cover should probably be replaced by an arrow: Conrad Schnitzler himself was not present in the Rummelsburg church on 3 September 1986. Instead, the »intermedia« artist, who had long since become legendary at the time, sent cassettes of his electronic compositions to the East from his West Berlin home. They were mixed on site by »Gen« Ken Montgomery, who had been in close contact with Schnitzler from the 1980s onwards and, even after his death in 2011, continued to perform Schnitzler’s work together with Wolfgang Seidel, among others. This was also the case on this late summer evening, when Schnitzler indirectly greeted his audience with organ-like tones and even bell-like sounds—very churchy, you might say. The 40-minute recording is somewhat marked by a lugubrious mood, but at the same time also by the classic Schnitzlerian brand of humour. The amazingly clear sound and wonderfully nuanced mix of this album, originally released in 1988 on Thomasius’ label Kröten Kassetten, underlines all the more the sonic clarity of the music, which mediates between floating synth sounds and jerking rhythms, and which—as is so often the case with Schnitzler—could probably end up between the Berlin School and Industrial sections of a record shop, though really it combines an electronic avant-garde sentiment with a punk attitude. Which is why this music was anything but out of place in the Erlöserkirche.