The second edition of our collectible cassette series, Volume One, documenting an unprecedented year of music production at Catalyst, is out now. Check out the featured student artists and learn more about their tracks.
If you didn’t own a walkman last year when we released Volume Zero of our Catalyst cassette compilation, we’re betting that you – or one of your friends – does now. Though it seemed the world was ending for the humble cassette tape at the turn of the millennium, 20 years later, the nostalgic medium has made a surprising comeback. The pandemic definitely had something to do with it – and not only because the time stuck inside had us digging through our attics. Back in 2019, cassettes were just trendy. In 2020 and 2021, the compact collectibles allowed artists to delight their fans with something tangible and profitable while gigs and concerts were a no-go.
This summer, as the popularity of the cassette continues to soar, and as Berlin baby-steps back to normality, we’re excited to unmask the second edition of our own collectible series: Volume One. While the inaugural Volume Zero celebrated our school’s transition from dBs Berlin to Catalyst, Volume One documents an unprecedented year of music production. Whether you choose to load it into your tape deck or listen online, this remarkable and eclectic selection of tracks created by our students during the pandemic will fill your ears with the sound of creative triumph.
You can get your hands on Catalyst Cassette Volume One at our Funkhaus campus. Or, if you’d like to ‘collect’ this edition among your liked SoundCloud tracks, listen to the compilation in full above. Want to dig further? Scroll down to browse the featured artists and to learn more about their tracks.
Neu Blau / Your Turn to Run (by Malaria!)
Neublau met in their first year of Electronic Music Production & Performance while producing their podcast, Anarchy in Berlin, a study of the ‘80s Berlin punk scene on both sides of the Berlin Wall. Together, pianist and vocalist Harianthe, bassist Blake Long, guitarist Burnside, and drummer and vocalist Mo Van Zandt dove deep into music and history to record three covers from the era. Their music is infused with their own punk, blues, and electronic roots. Their cover of ‘Your Turn to Run’ by Malaria! was driven by thick harmonies, ‘90s trip hop, and Mo’s crush on Gutrun gut.
Dark at Three / Heathen
The penultimate song from Dark At Three’s mental-health inspired EP Against The Dying Light, ‘Heathen’ is all about acceptance. The third-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering Bachelor student created emotion with high-energy electronic music production and a blend of rock guitars and 808s. “The sound encapsulates the feeling of finding the energy to keep going despite mental health challenges,” he explains, “accepting that it's okay not to be okay.”
Parallel Processing ft. Duhne / Tĕta-Lenvers
Third-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering Bachelor student Alix Willhelm, aka Parallel Processing, describes this track featuring Duhne as “a constantly evolving beat blending genres, coupled with destructive sound design and beautifully processed vocals.”
Daniel Rudolf / Outbreak
“This is quite a complex track,” says second-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering Bachelor student Daniel Rudolf. “It's a mix of tribal and minimal, built in an experimental structure. Most of the sounds are made by me, mostly with granular synthesis, sampling and resampling. I tried to express the feeling of freedom and fun under the pressure of regulations, rules and oppression.”
Schwarzbild Condition / Introspection
Second-year Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor student Aaron Giaier, aka Schwarzbild Condition, proves that, while the lockdown limited access to gear, it did nothing to limit his creativity. He created this pumping performative techno track using only one instrument: the Korg ESX1.
Jack’s Trip / Psysolation
First-year Electronic Music Production & Performance student Giacomo Raisi created ‘Psysolation’ in the winter when, for two weeks during the pandemic, Berlin was covered with snow and ice. “The track evolves differently and it feels like two different stories as the second part ends up unlinking with more ‘hope’ and a dense melody,” he explains. “It took me a while to finish it because I was trying to describe what I was feeling those days, but at the same time I wanted it to be something that could work on a dancefloor and that I could play live. Both goals were reached.”
Mister Bloo / The Others
A danceable bassline and downtempo stab synths make this minimal techno/house track perfect for afterhours, says third-year Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor student Alex Peñate, aka Mister Bloo. “It’s meant for a vibe where you get that second wind going and you’re ready to dance again.”
Loud Lemons / Dub’s On My Team (dub)
Creative Production Masters student Ludovic Laviec, aka Loud Lemons, presents the dub version of his pop/RnB song ‘She's On My Team.’ He created the track in collaboration with fellow MA student Darren D'Souza, French singer Shamime Garenne and French keyboard player Charles Leblanc. “As part of my MA, I wanted to practice dub techniques and ‘mixing as a performance’,” he explains. “So I deconstructed the song, used discarded recordings, tweaked a few instruments, improvised and... I ended up liking this version better than the original!”
Mister Bloo & Luvz / Golazo
We love collaboration! Third-year Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor students Mister Bloo and Luvz – whose tracks feature on Side A of this cassette – collaborated on this downtempo electronica tune which features a steady bassline and syncopated Latin percussions. They describe it as “a nice relaxing track that reminds you of drinking cervezas on the beach.”
Mørel / Floyd Von Waak
A vibe that goes from dreamy to groovy. Third-year Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor student Francisco Morel, who goes by the artist name Mørel, was inspired by Pink Floyd when creating this track in collaboration with Toto Waak. “It emerged from a simple synth jam and then I took it to the ethereal realm,” he tells us.
Harianthe / Back & Fill
‘Back & Fill’ is the second track from first-year Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor student Charianthe Theochari, aka Harianthe’s experimental electronic debut EP Together in Between. “It reflects our perception of time, employing complex instrumentation, unstructured melodic layers and natural elements, such as the wind,” she explains of the two-track EP. “Its blurry rhythms and ethereal vocals reveal our inability to control time and dare the listener see the beauty of letting go.
Mo Van Zandt & critical P / Slasher Flic
A collaboration between best mates and Electronic Music Production & Performance first years, critical P and Mo Van Zandt. critical P is a hip hop and house producer from Duisburg. Mo Van Zandt is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist from Texas. Together they bring you the bitter story of the American capitalist psyche and icy synths you can bop to. “I struggled with jealousy growing up in Texas. Looking back, it feels clearer where that toxic, scarcity mindset came from...”
Reyna Deyna / Heavy
‘Heavy’ features on third-year Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor student Rugile Deksnyt, aka Reyna Deyna’s self-released debut album XTRAXEYNA. A departure from the sound of her debut EP HRX (2020), Xtraxeyna is Art Pop, Emo and R&B record containing elements of trip-hop and soul. It was written by Reyna Deyna and produced alongside with Genys. The album's name is a pun on the name Reyna Deyna, and the word ‘extra’- which suggests ‘beyond’, or ‘above’. Reyna Deyna is searching for concepts that would transcend the boundaries. In the song "Heavy" she is telling her personal story and creating hazy textures with the music and lyrics using a raw and straightforward language mixing with unreal and mythological beings. The song lyrics are about lust for the unknown, reconciling and owning the reality.
Ponder Mars / About The Boy Who Woke Up In a Forest
A track which does what it says on the tin! Third-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering Bachelor student Marcelo Mantilla, aka Ponder Mars, is passionate about sonic storytelling. “I liked the idea of a boy waking up in the middle of the forest and bringing order to the chaos,” he tells us in our blog feature. “I imagined this kind of forest where you can hear voices, birds, owls, water, wind and this melody that carries the whole context of the environment forward.”
Nicolò Zilocchi / Quantize
‘Quantize’ was inspired by first-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering student Nicolò Zilocchi’s first months in Berlin. “It was born from the desire to express two cultures in confrontation and in perennial conflict,” he explains.“On one side, the provincial Italian spirit from which I come, and on the other hand the encounter with multicultural and artistic Berlin.” The track is the second single from his debut album, Life, which is out now on Spotify.
Egill Gunnarsson / Far Heimur Far Sæll
This ambient choral track by third-year Creative Audio Production & Sound Engineering Bachelor student Egill Gunnarsson explores vocal-based sound design and time manipulation. Three choirs singing the same composition at different tempos create rich and subtle dissonances that slowly meander back towards consonance.
Burnside / Strangers (Alone Mix)
Electronic Music Production & Performance Certificate student Steven Burnside, who goes simply by Burnside, set out to capture his experience of Berlin – but it’s not quite the Berlin you’d imagine to experience as a music producer. This brilliantly upbeat ‘Alone Mix’ of his track ‘Strangers’ is written for the kind of dance floors most of us made do with during the pandemic – bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms.