(Elestial Sound, 2017)
I just so happen to be reading this fascinating book right now called The Cultural Topographies of New Berlin (not out till 2018, you unlucky scholars!), a collection of essays chronicling different aspects of the city post-Wall. Mila Chiral, Berlin-based dancer, choreographer, all-around Renaissance woman, has over the course of many years evolved into a singular artist whose music – this is her first solo album, by the way – fully incorporates her past work and connects her to the vibrant art community that exists in the German capital. As one who has created and performed throughout the heyday of art communities springing up in squatted spaces and then seeing those spaces become voids as construction moves the city toward gentrification, Chiral has a unique opportunity to use her music to span and connect these two eras of Berliner artistic expression. She does so with great success.
As her own sense of Bildung, or self-cultivation, has emerged over the years, Chiral is able to draw from past experience to influence her musical output. And although that’s sort of a “No duh” kind of statement, it’s explicitly meaningful when approaching Where Time Meets Space, a title that is as apt a poetic distinction of Berlin as one might possibly apply to it. Chiral clearly draws inspiration in her music from her history in dance and stage performance, as each track here is filled with motion and kinetic energy that practically begs to be visualized as a dance piece. Especially consider “Hide and Seek with Ghosts, a song-length representation of spirits playfully flitting about, filling Potsdamer Platz, perhaps, or encircling the Brandenburg Gate in their endless activity. Imagine somebody trying to contain a performance like that to a stage.
What’s constant is the atmosphere – the city is never far from Chiral’s artistic worldview. And although different flavors make their appearance – the clinical instrumental synth pop of “Chilled Satin,” the industrial-lite trance of “La mort et l’amour,” the subterranean electronics of “Sliding Gliding Glitches,” the expansive music-box science of “What If (Life Was Light and Easy),” and on and on – Where Time Meets Space is clearly a product of its environment. It embodies the illegal raves and the outsider art and the imposing architecture and the weighted political history and marries it to the strange currents reverberating through the streets today, whether it’s the utopian idea of Berlin as a “world city” or the practicalities of integrating one of the world’s largest incoming refugee populations. Regardless, this interior dance record is the perfect accompaniment to and soundtrack for life in any modern metropolis, a headphone masterpiece for contemplating past, present, and future as you walk avenues where time collapses upon itself in your imagination.