Ben Klock is Berghain’s DJ’s DJ and Marcel Dettmann is the club’s purist, but Norman Nodge is the teacher. It was Nodge who introduced Dettmann to techno music 20 years ago and without the lawyer, family man and DJ’s influence, it is arguable whether the Berlin club where both reside would enjoy the same kind of global profile. Nodge’s DJing played a central role in shaping the club’s musical aesthetic and Berghain 06 is its most impressive articulation yet.
Berghain resident Marcel Fengler will return to the Ostgut Ton imprint with the three track Frantic EP, set for release next month.
Despite fears to the contrary stemming from a rate hike being brought in by German music royalties collections agency GEMA, Berlin’s Berghain club will remain open in 2013.
The details surrounding Norman Nodge’s Berghain 06 mix CD have emerged.
Swedish duo Skudge are offering a recent live set recorded deep in the bowels of Berlin’s Berghain club for free download.
For some reason, reactions to the news that Marcel Fengler was going to mix Berghain 05 focused on the fact that he is the club’s most overlooked resident. This is to do Fengler a disservice and to understand the club in the narrowest context possible. If anything, the trajectory Fengler follows here defines the broad brush strokes played out in the Berlin club. There’s the eerie intro which moves from Marcel Dettmann’s vocal version of Emika’s “Count Backwards” into Peter Van Hoesen’s spacey, bleeping “Axis Mundi”. Classic sounds always form an integral part of Fengler’s approach and this is evident on Octogen’s widescreen yet menacing electro reshape of Terrence Dixon, the wiry 90s minimalism of Ratio and in the alternate version of Secret Cinema’s chord-heavy early 90s classic “Timeless Altitude”.
In between these sounds, Fengler proves his technical prowess, moving effortlessly from the drones and broken beats of Dr Walker’s take on Byteone and the Regis version of Tommy Four Seven’s “G” into straighter, albeit bass-heavy techno and house from Duplex - remixing Gerd – and LB Dub Corp, who delivers a new, multi-layered take on Fengler’s own “Thwack”. Put simply, Fengler has that rare talent that most DJs lack - he can put together seemingly disparate tracks without losing the flow. It explains why, as it climaxes, Berghain 05 shifts from Claude Young’s deep techno into Vril’s stomping “UV” or why the chord-heavy Skudge contribution sits so seamlessly beside Reaganz’s glitchy house, the soaring bass of 20/20 Vision’s unforgettable “Future Remembrance” and the eerie synth melodies of the brittle electro on ERP’s “Vapor Pressure”. The club he resides at provides Fengler with a blank canvas and this mix is his masterpiece.
One of the greatest things about Berlin club Berghain is that once you make your way past the autocratic glare of the door staff, you are free to act as you want. There are no rules and everyone is treated the same. This sense of egalitarianism may be fleeting, but the club’s residents have succeeded in applying a similar aesthetic to their mix CDs. Well-known producers appear beside unknowns, while artists lauded for a particular sound veer off into new, uncharted territories. This approach is audible on this sampler for Marcel Fengler’s forthcoming mix. Belgian producer Peter Van Hoesen is known primarily for his bass-heavy, heads down warehouse tracks, but on “Axis Mundi”, there’s a palpable change. Van Hoesen’s usual deft production touch ensures that the arrangement features razor-blade percussion and a lithe rhyhtmic sensibility, but “Mundi” is all about the woozy, trancey melodies filtering their way to its centre.
Likewise, Jonah Sharp and Move D’s “The Labyrinth” marks a departure of sorts, with the duo’s tasteful, jazzy keys teased out over a rough, glitchy backing track. Vril’s “UV” is the most obvious sign that Fengler and Ostgut want to maintain the same egalitarian approach as Berghain: this artist, who has just two EPs to his/her credit on Giegling, drops a slamming, dubby techno track that simultaneously challenges the bass power of Shed’s Wax project and the loose, echo chamber tones of Modern Love. Like Berghain, once they past the litmus test, every artist is an equal.
2010 is the year that Ostgut Ton came of age. The record label celebrated its fifth year in existence with a compilation entitled Fünf, which saw the Ostgut family of artists make tracks using field recordings gleaned from within the walls of its associated club(s) Berghain and Panorama Bar. It capped a fine year which began with Scuba‘s Sub:stance mix and was followed by stellar 12″s from Steffi, LB Dub Corp, Marcel Fengler, Tama Sumo and Prosumer, plus albums from Marcel Dettmann and Shed, as well as Ben Klock‘s impressive Berghain o4 compilation.
The man at the helm of the good ship Ostgut is Nick Höppner, who has been in charge of the imprint since it launched in 2005. A former resident DJ at Berghain’s predecessor club (which was called Ostgut), Nick is also a producer of considerable repute – he chipped in with a 12″ on the label back in March – and was until recently one half of My My with Lee Jones, although studio time is at a premium these days. Juno Plus caught up with Nick at last month’s Amsterdam Dance Event to discuss Ostgut Ton’s past, present and future, the art of label management and his passion for UK bass music.
The fascinating (and, when you think about it, wholly appropriate) concept behind Ostgut Ton’s fifth anniversary compilation was conceived by British born, Berlin based artist Emika. In a recent interview she revealed that on a night out at the label’s affiliate club Panorama she noticed the “metal panels on the walls resonating and the motors from the lights making noise”. And so, at that moment, Fünf was born. Some discussions with Ostgut Ton label manager Nick Höppner followed, and soon after Berghain and Panorama Bar’s family of artists were given a host of field recordings taken from within the club after hours – be it humming fridges, creaking doors or unseen footsteps – and asked to make a track using these sounds as their sonic foundation. The results are stunning, with a disparate yet inexorably linked sonic tapestry that ranges from subtle soundscapes (Emika’s “Changing Room” and Marcel Dettmann’s beatless “Shelter”) to dubsteppish techno (Fiedel’s “Doors To Manual”), minimal house (Dinky’s “Twelve To Four”) and straight up bangers (Shed’s “Boom Room”); indeed the latter reminds us how good Rene Pawlowitz is at making no-nonsense, unadulterated club tackle.
Elsewhere, Marcel Fengler shows his underrated production prowess on the growling “Shiraz”, while Prosumer’s “Daybreak” has the stripped back, thumping appeal that suits the house-cum-techno sound of his Panorama Bar residency. Höppner conjures one of the more sonically rich efforts in “ISP”, with layered percussion offset by mechanical groans, while Steffi constructs a groove on “My Room” that makes for a funkier house jam than most producers can conjure with unlimited sounds at their disposal. Others outside the immediate Berghain/Panorama family also make stellar contributions, with material from Hardwax employee DJ Pete aka Substance, Cassy, Margaret Dygas, Ryan Elliott, SCB (aka Scuba) and the aforementioned Dinky. Elliott’s “Abatis” is another standout, suggesting the young producer is a worthy baton holder in the famed Detroit-Berlin axis. Considering the relative paucity of sounds available here (yes, they were given four gigabytes worth but there are only so many sounds a building can make), the results here are as rich and varied as you could possibly hope. Think of it as a little slice of Berghain/Panorama for you to call your own – picky bouncers not included.
Cutting his teeth as a DJ in New York the 90s, Levon Vincent witnessed first hand the impact of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy on New York’s nightlife, and saw his gigs and hence his livelihood dry up overnight. So Vincent went back to school, in his words, to “take a negative and turn it into a positive”, and devote himself to learning the many complexities and nuances of music theory and production. In 2008 his star began to rise, with the first signs coming not from NYC but London, where his tracks drew raucous receptions from the Fabric crowd when dropped by close friend Jus Ed. Affable, humble down to the ground; Vincent’s rise to prominence is a remarkable and heart warming tale. Aaron Coultate met up with the man himself during his recent stay in London to find out more.
The timing of this mix couldn’t be better – Berghain is currently the Most Talked About Techno Club On Earth, to the point where we can one day expect the club’s loyal patrons to remember the former power plant in the same hushed tones as disco heads who long for the days of the Paradise Garage and house aficionados who frequented the Warehouse and Music Box – perhaps not in terms of sheer groundbreaking importance, but because it has shaped a singular sound, and a vibrant scene that has built around it.
Stepping up to the task of curating the fourth instalment of the club’s mix series (following on from André Galluzi, Marcel Dettmann and Len Faki) must have been daunting for Ben Klock, but it is a challenge he has tackled with aplomb. In a recent interview with Juno Plus, Klock said there was no way he could – or would – try to replicate one of his mammoth DJ sets in Berghain 04. He’s right: far from the relentless, pounding sets he is known for, the mix builds slowly, incorporating dubstep-tinged moments, housier elements and (of course) a sprinkling of subterranean machine techno. Indeed it isn’t until Levon Vincent’s “The Long Life” crawls out of STL’s “Loop 04” that things approach fist-clenching territory. And from here on in, every time the mix threatens to get all peak-time on us, Klock reels it back in with a subtle shift back down the gears.
Most of the tracks here are exclusives, which does not, of course, a good compilation make. But Klock achieves his goal of using unreleased tracks to create a sonic journey that is at once familiar yet excitingly new. He’s called in plenty of favours, with new material from Martyn, Kevin Gorman, James Ruskin and Roman Lindau to name a few – and no doubt these producers were more than happy to oblige. (He also manages to sneak in one of his all time favourites, Tyree’s 1995 classic “Nuthin Wrong”, for good measure.)
The highlights, tracks-wise, have to be Gorman’s “7am Stepper”, an epic, broken beat journey into submerged atmospherics and spooky chords. Not far behind is Vincent’s aforementioned effort, which comes replete with the cavernous, hollow bassline that the New Yorker seems to have perfected, and DVS1’s “Pressure”, which sees hypnotic organ chimes prevail against a backdrop of subtle 909 programming, and sets the mood for the mix in superb fashion.
Like all great mix compilations, this is something you can revisit, and on each repeat listen new elements and nuances make themselves apparent in ways you hadn’t noticed before. Klock shows he is no one trick pony too; capable of fusing genres together in intelligent, creative and lucid fashion. Ultimately, Berghain 04 is as good an argument as any that this club’s near mythical reputation is indeed deserved.
Review: Aaron Coultate
A lot is said about Berghain. The venue, located in an old power station on the divide between Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts (hence the name), takes on an aura of mystery and intrigue unlike any other club. The stories of what goes on within those cavernous walls on any given weekend are stuff of legend. From the door policy to the artwork to the infamous dark room – each aspect of the club (and it’s upstairs house-friendly sibling, Panoramabar) is cause for much discussion. Integral to the club’s unrivaled reputation though, is the music. Each resident DJ is given time – and trust – to cultivate their own sets and sound. The policy has paid dividends – not least with the rise in reputation of Ben Klock, who has become one of the most recognisable faces of Berghain. Klock has fine tuned his own unique sound – hard edged techno mixed with a house sensibility – that perfectly fits his austere surroundings. We spoke with Ben via email to discuss the upcoming Berghain 04 compilation, his early days as a drum and bass DJ and sampling egg slicers on his childhood productions.
Marcel Dettmann, resident DJ at current world mecca of techno clubs, Berlin’s Berghain produces no-nonsense, deep thumping proper techno. His remixes in the past for Fever Ray, Modeselektor, and Scuba have elevated the originals with a vital sense of tech edginess.
Dettmann Remixed is a prelude to his forthcoming debut album on Ostgut Ton, Berghain’s in house imprint which has recently released phenomenal tracks by techno luminaries Ben Klock, Basic Soul Unit, and Levon Vincent. These four remixes of original non-album tracks by his close friends Norman Nodge and Wincent Kunth are very personal and individual interpretations of the music Marcel Dettmann has turned into the sound of Berghain.
Nodge’s mix of “Shift” is a straight-up tech workout with repetitive crackling vinyl sounds to lure you in as they become a mantric part of the percussion. “Unrest” is wicked throwback to the grainy minimal techno reminiscent of Surgeon and Regis- you know, before minimal got so clicky and clean. Throw this track on to school anyone new or seasoned on the way to create a no-gimmicks, techno-induced dancefloor.
Kunth’s two remixes veer more to the abstract side, but never lose sight of its 4:00am dancefloor intentions. “Wound Up” is a killer track with dubby wash sounds that your feet will know what to do with once your mind catches up and processes it. Choice cut! Dettmann Remixed is a recommended tasty appetizer for the main album which drops in April.
Review: Steve Phillips
Label: Ostgut Ton
Buy From: Juno Download
The Ostgut Ton imprint has released its first Sub:stance album, mixed by Hotflush head honcho, Paul Rose aka Scuba, to celebrate the success of his and Paul Fowler’s dubstep parties at Berghain in Berlin. The Sub:stance club events feature the most forward-thinking bass and dubstep music being made in Europe, and Scuba’s mix brings this bass heavy sound to the home listener.
The album begins with dark and heady sonic tracks from Sigha and Airhead, setting the mood before Scuba drops an absolute burner of a song by Joy Orbison that would have you chugging your vodka-red bulls and rushing onto the dance floor, setting up camp for the rest of the night. Apparently, the sound system at Berghain is absolutely amazing, where the bass rattles your chest and makes your arm hairs vibrate, without destroying your ears, and it’d be quite a treat to hear such deep bass over a two-step beat.
The tracklist on this album features unreleased tracks from Joy Orbison, Sigha, George Fitzgerald, and Instra:mental, as well as four new songs from Scuba himself. Added in the mix for good measure are hits from budding superstars Shackleton, Joker, and Untold. This is the future of dancefloor music and an excellent primer into the world of dubstep and bass music. Check it.
Review: Matt Leslie