photo: ingo scheffler, 1998

Michael Renkel - strings and percussion              

Burkhard Beins - percussion and strings              

"Beins and Renkel create spontaneous compositional structures, by finding musicality in non-musical sounds... there's a beguiling opposition between tone and noise... The result is an intensely musical improvised sound art, by players uncannily gifted in exact choice and fine replacement of sounds."
Andy Hamilton, The Wire

"Beins and Renkel's fractured instrumentation ... rocks out to a scattered beat of madness, joy and sheer bedlam"
Edwin Pouncy, The Wire

Activity Center was founded in 1989 when post-war Germany stumbled into a new era and post-punk finally felt worn out. Renkel and Beins played their first concert in the legendary Hannover underground club 'Silke Arp bricht', and their second one as part of a Guenter Christmann 'Vario' project. After the duo had been the core of the 'Hamburger Salon' for a while it re-established itself within the freshly evolving Berlin Echtzeitmusik scene around 1995. Their Berlin version of the '2:13 Club' at 'Vollrads Tonsaal' became a central meeting point of the so-called 'Berlin Reductionism' and its like-minded companions from London throughout the late 1990's - at a time when this musical episode didn't have any names yet. Activity Center gained some recognition for playing its idiosyncratic version of it and consequently became one of the original ingredients of the renown Berlin septet Phosphor at the turn of the millennium and throughout the decade of the group's existence.

Over the course of 30 years Activity Center has developed a unique style of musical performance. Their long sold out double-CD 'Möwen & Moos' (1999) has been regarded as a milestone of its genre, while they have managed to build bridges between generations and styles with their CD 'Activity Center & Phil Minton' in 2005. With 'Lohn & Brot', their release from 2010, they have summed up their wide range of musical experience with electro-acoustic grit.

VIDEO: Live at La Bruit de la Musique, 24' (2016)

VIDEO: Live at Dzialdov, Berlin, 30' (2015)

PROMO VIDEO, 4'55'' (2013)

at Sound Sanatorium Festival, Sokolowsko, 2015


All releases (and more) on: BANDCAMP

ACTIVITY CENTER "Möwen & Moos" 2:13 Music CD008/009, DoCD, 1999 - limited and numbered, 150 copies with original handmade covers by Fehmi Baumbach

MICHAEL RENKEL "Möwen & Moos - Remix" 2:13 Music CD014, CD, 2001 based exclusively on material from the original double CD

ACTIVITY CENTER & PHIL MINTON   Absinth Records 006, CD, 2005 - limited and numbered, 500 copies with original handmade covers by Marcus Liebig

ACTIVITY CENTER "lohn & brot"   Absinth Records, CD 017, 2010 - limited and numbered, 300 copies

michael renkel, photo: willehad grafenhorst 2007

"This music adds new meaning and new vitality to the 'genre' of guitar and percussion improv - in fact it ignores the genre altogether and creates something better. Other improv players dream, in their politically correct and polite way, of leaving enough space for their fellow collaborators to perform... Activity Center go one stage further, and create that space - defining huge areas of interactive possibility between the notes... Renkel and Beins use their brains, they can actually play and improvise in meaningful ways, and they connect and interact to produce music and sonic effects of the first water.
This method - and this music - guarantees your listening delight - you sit and wait in fascination. What will come next?"

- Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector -

burkhard beins, photo: willehad grafenhorst 2007

Michael Renkel and Burkhard Beins were/are both members of:

photo: katrin hoefer 1989