Review: It's no surprise that the world's most feted techno club has decided to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary with something special - a release that seeks to redefine the art of the DJ mix. In fact, Luke Slater has christened his approach on Berghain Funfzehn 'ripping the cut': it saw the storied UK techno artist scour all of sister label Ostgut Ton's Eps and LPs for source material in order to fashion 26 new tracks and then to mix them all together. The end result is a wild ride through the very best in contemporary club techno, with elements from well-known Ostgut releases from Ben Klock, Levon Vincent and Marcel Dettmann featuring alongside lesser-known gems from Lerosa and Rolando.
Review: With Berlin's clubbing HQ currently off limits it's pleasing to know Berghain's in-house label is still pumping. Nolove adds to the label's formidable run of EPs from Shed, Substance and Tobias, to albums from Efedemin, Barker and Planetary Assault Systems. Joining this hot streak is long associated DJ and artist with Ostgut, Etapp Kyle, and he realises his second release for the label following previous releases for underton, and Klockworks before that. For this four-track the artist goes spacey and percussive, with skittering white noise flickers and effects chosen over classic techno hi-hats and snares etc. "Polar" and "Unseen" present two cooler, cosmic freezes of subby, percussive drums and mellow overtones while "No Love" and "Eden" venture into more sparse, melodic and experimental territory. Hold on to love.
Review: Tobias Freund's catalogue is characterised by an intricate, layered production approach, and it's no surprise that he brings this aesthetic to bear on1972. The title track cracks and fizzles with raw percussive bursts as the veteran producer weaves an intricate web of haunting electronics. On "Schism", the rhythm is less direct and the sound deeper, but the same mindset applies, with Tobias multi-layering melodic elements to create a hypnotic effect. "The Wisdom Of No Escape", with its tripped out vocal sample, adds an extra dimension to his sonic armoury, while on "Electric Storm", Tobias diverts somewhat from the script to deliver an abstract, stripped back track.
Review: Phase Fatale aka Hayden Payne follows his 2017 debut album Redeemer with this unforgettable follow up. The Berlin-based producer has spoken about how Scanning Backwards is inspired by his residency at Berghain, and it's impossible to play down this influence. "Velvet Imprints" is a lean but menacing club track, inspired by ebm and designed for blacked out rooms. Payne moves close to conventional song arranging on "Binding By Oath" - but waves of electronic intensity blast away any pop pretence - while at the album's midpoint "During The Freezing Process" sees him deliver a less intense take on his signature. These exceptions should not lure the listener into a false sense of security and as the head-shredding, visceral stomp of "Mass Deception" demonstrates, Phase Fatale is a master of neo-industrial techno.
Review: Oderbruch is Rene Pawlowitz's fifth artist album as Shed, and the title refers to the place in east Germany he comes from. It's no surprise then that this long player is a deeply personal affair. "Die Oder", named after the river in that region, flows serenely thanks to a slip-slide rhythm and gentle pads. "Menschen & Mauern" is the polar opposite, with Pawlowitz dropping high-speed break beats and evocative organ playing. A similarly introspective mood plays out on the dusky sound scapes of "Sterbende Alleen", where Pawlowitz's sense of disillusionment is palpable. However, like any personalised work, the mood swings, with the dreamy "Nacht, Fluss, Grille, Auto, Frosch, Eule, Mucke" restoring a sense of calm with its bucolic tones.
Review: Plantae is Luke Slater's seventh artist album as Planetary Assault Systems and his fourth for Ostgut. If you're looking for forward-looking club techno, you've come to the right place. The album opens with the indistinct tones of "Red", before "Whip it Good" takes up the mantle and sees Slater deliver a tougher take on this sound, powered by hissing percussion and tough kicks. Meanwhile "Kamani" is a deeper, more understated take on this style. "Spell A" is a more stripped back affair, resounding to tight percussion and a rolling groove, while "Mugwort" calls to mind Slater's 90s work under this guise, with a hypnotic rhythm underscoring a cacophony of atmospheric sounds.
Review: Collaborating across continents, Gonno and Panorama Bar's Nick Hoppner deliver their second EP for Ostgut. It's an esoteric affair, with "Bangalore" opening the release in deep, atmospheric mode. Unravelling to the sound of ominous bass, layered textures and percussive bursts, it's an expansive, hypnotic serving of modern techno. "Love Lost" is quite a different proposition; it sees the pair drop a slinky rhythm track that provides the basis for sweet, acid-soaked melodies and dubbed out vocal samples. "Start Trying" is different again: they pick up the pace to deliver a warbling Detroit style groove, populated by cool bleeps and shiny synths.
Review: Work is Steffi's first release on Ostgut in a few years, and it sees her hook up with long-standing collaborator Virginia. "Be True to Me" is a typical Steffi track: understated blips and lush synths unfold over a bubbling groove, with Virginia's soulful tones at the heart of the arrangement. However, the approach changes on "Sight From Above", where smoky beats support the vocal narrative. "Help Me Understand" and "Until You're Begging" both see Steffi reach back to the angular electro that her label Klakson became known for, albeit with vocals added. Meanwhile, the title track sees the pair head off into deeper waters, with a rumbling bass accompanying bruising drums and Virginia's soulful tones.
Review: On his debut solo LP for Ostgut Ton, Leisure System co-founder Sam Barker turns his focus toward the psychology behind the musical decision making process, with solutions for 'quantifying pleasure, abolishing suffering, and the ethical use of drugs and nanotechnology' - being just some of the themes over its nine tracks, with a strong aesthetic of dub techno throughout. From thought provoking IDM cuts like "Posmean" or the particularly cavernous "Gradients Of Bliss", right through to moments of emotive techno-soul as heard on the title track and the transcendental ambience of "Wireheading" - 'Utility' is a non-ironic musical approach to a whole spectrum of utilitarian and transhumanist ideas.
Review: Well well well, we seem to have been delivered treat as the legendary Martyn returns with new music via Ostgut Ton Germany. The EP itself is made up of three original heaters, kicking off with the super choppy drum swipes and gnarly bass twists of the title track 'Odds Against Us'. This is then followed in style by the super unique sounding minimal drums tones of 'BC 2', stooped in dungeon-esc energy. The EP is then finished up in style as we take a dive into the swirling synth pools and smooth chord progressions of 'Rhythm Ritual', a classy way to round off a fantastic new body of work.
Review: Detroit native Ryan Elliott became one of Berghain/Panorama Bar's first international residents back in 2010 and has likewise made forays into production sporadically since then for in-house imprint Ostgut Ton. Following up his 2011 debut Rocksteady EP and 2013's Stepmode release, he's back in fine form with a couple of stylish bangers on his new Paul's Horizon EP. The title track's fierce functionality will no doubt suit the powerful sound system at his famed residency's main hall, equally so is the churning dub techno cyclicality of "Grafton Road" while the the rolling groove of "Martinville Morning" is seductive in equally both ethereal and emotive proportions.
Review: American industrial scene stalwart Dominick Fernow makes a somewhat surprising addition to Berlin institution Berghain's mix series on its ninth instalment. Under the Vatican Shadow moniker, he has increasingly flirted with techno, performing regularly at the Berlin institution as a DJ and with his intense live show. Of the mix, Fernow - who is otherwise known for work under many other aliases such as Prurient, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement or Exploring Jezebel among others - has stated that his interest in DJing developed out of industrial music traditions such as mail art, tape trading, and sound collage. This sonic 'cut up' of electronic edits bridges the gap between several generations of electronic music subculture, taking in early UK industrial (Genesis Breyer P-Orridge), Japanese noise (Merzbow) and the very NYC underground that he came up in with contemporaries such as Virile Games and Kris Lapke (aka Alberich) also featured.
Review: New Atlantis is Efdemin's fourth artist album and takes its title from Francis Bacon's unfinished novel. In that work, there were musical instruments that could read all of the sounds of the universe. However, to start this album, the storied producer decides instead to go with the sound of the human voice on "Oh, Lovely Appearance Of Death". In spite of this bold move, he is soon back in his back in his comfort zone on the drum-heavy groove of "Good Winds" and the title track, where a sub-aquatic acid line is fused with woodwind sounds and dubbed out groove. While not as revelatory as his debut album, Efdemin, there are still wonderful touches here, such as the swirling sound scapes of "At The Stranger's House".
Review: It's hard to believe that over two decades have passed since DJ Pete's Substance project released new material. The project's releases on Chain Reaction, along with the output of sister label Basic Channel, were one of the touch points for techno music. The question now is whether Pete will follow the same path? Based on the title track, it seems that he is now more inspired by the sound track of his Wax Treatment residency, as dub shanty melodies shimmer and flicker over spiky drums. If this seems ephemeral in comparison to the cavernous depth of his Chain Reaction work, then consider the robust broken beats of "Countdown" or "Cruising", a linear groove, underpinned by grainy drums and the grey scale hum of early Berlin mornings.
Review: It's hard to believe that Berghain resident Norman Nodge released his last EP seven years ago. Since then, techno has undergone seismic change, but as Embodiment demonstrates, the same ground rules still apply. As a veteran DJ, Nodge is ideally placed to articulate a variety of sounds and styles, which he does effortlessly here. There's the dubby, chord-heavy "Tacit Knowing", while on "Discipline", he caters for the main room with a rolling, filtered workout of epic proportions. "Gathering" is more subtle but just as effective thanks to its rolling bongos, while rounding off this seven-year comeback is the evocative, chord-heavy title track, which just keeps on building.
Review: For the seventh edition of Ostgut Ton?s acclaimed Panorama Bar mix, they have reeled in one of their finest and hard working sectors in the from of ND Baumecker - and it's about time! The Frankfurt native's compilation features a varied selection of moods and grooves, including exclusive tracks from FaltyDL, Gen Ludd and Jinje - as heard on volume one. The second one featured here is where you are treated to British deep house sensation Ross From Friends' trippy yet absolutely evocative "High Energy", Bay Area human beatbox Dave Aju getting into some deeply exotic microhouse on "Wayahed" and Rotterdam based electro heads Duplex delivering the ultra smooth "Isolator".
Review: For those of you lucky enough to witness it, seeing Andreas Baumecker own the room at one of his acclaimed sets at Berlin's Panorama Bar is an absolute privelege. A resident since 2004, he's what Ostgut Ton best described as 'a foundational part of the club's identity.' For those of you that can't get past the notorious bouncers, be assured that Panorama Bar 07 will no doubt distill the experience into one riveting continuous mix - that brings the experience to you. Featuring exclusives by the likes of Falty DL - the New Yorker going for a proper old school vibe on the sensual "Paradox Garage 01", Jinje (of Vessels fame) nailing some slinky and hypnotic nu-disco antics on "Big Skies" and Glasweigian duo Gen Ludd serving up some deep techno perfect for those heads down moments on the dancefloor with "Bloods Avalanche".
Review: Fixmer follows Depth Charged, his 2015 album on CLR, with this new long player for Ostgut. While he has long been one of the leading producers of EBM-influenced techno, Cortex sees him navigate a path through more grungy, industrial sounds. There's the droning, stepping rhythms of "Shout In A Black Hole" and "Event Horizon", the latter led by eerie sound scapes, while "Fury", which is aptly named, sounds like a brutal, wired take on Jeff Mills. The ghostly swagger and paranoid vocals of "Accelerate" see Fixmer return to his EBM sound and "Expedition" see the French producer deliver a slower, more teased out take on this sound, but Cortex is a diverse affair that also includes the spooky ambience of "A Halo Somewhere" and "Something Invisible".
Review: Test-File is Marcel Dettmann's first solo record in over five years. Despite the passage of time, it sees him focus again on straddling experimental sounds and more dance-floor friendly arrangements. This is especially the case on the title track, where the Berghain resident blends stepping, rickety rhythms with ghostly soundscapes. On "Ascending", he focuses on a straighter, tribal rhythm, while Dettmann's exploration of the dance floor also sees him unleash the stripped back, oddball house of "Autumn77". However, experimentation is never too far from his agenda, and the water-drop abstractions and eerie, bass groans of "Torch" provide a reminder as to why he is so revered - on and away from the dance floor.
Review: After a release on sub-label Unterton last year, Phase Fatale aka Hayden Payne now makes his debut on the mother imprint. Taking inspiration from industrial's dance floor and experimental strains in equal measures, the common bond across Reverse Fall is Payne's adherence to dark electronic sounds. This takes form on the pounding, Front 242-style title track and "Blackbox", where a tunnel of glitchy percussion paves the way for a peak time, pounding rhythm. In contrast, on "Empty Whip" percussive bursts simulate whip lashes doled out over a buckled, broken electro track, while on "Incision" brooding sub bass and murky textures collide to bring this bleak but compelling release to a finale.
Review: For his latest album, Martyn has turned a real-life, near-death experience into one of his greatest artistic statements. Recorded after he was recovering from a heart attack, it sees the storied Dutch producer at his most vulnerable. Granted, there are typical Martyn steppers like the melancholic "Manchester" and the recoiling sub-bass of "Nya", but the album also contains abstract, contemplative pieces like "Voids One", the jazzed-out drums of "Why" and the show-stopping, late night piano piece, "Try To Love You". Clearly, his experience has left him with an appreciation for music in its rawest form and thankfully, he is happy to share it with his audience.
Review: While it may not seem as familiar as other artists, Sam Barker's relationship with the Berghain / Ostgut axis is long-established. Working together with Andy Baumecker, he has released a series of albums and Eps for the label, while his own imprint, Leisure System, has hosted nights at the hallowed Berlin club. Now flying solo with Debiasing, he reveals a more contemplative edge to his sound. "Cascade Effect" and "Look How Hard I've Tried" are led by atmospheric chords and gentle bass tones, while on "When Prophesy Fails", he offers up a similar, albeit slightly more frosty melodic sequence. Clearly there is a lot more going on to Barker than dance floor techno, and even the warbling rhythm of "Filter Bubbles" is complex, intricate - but always intriguing,
Review: After a series of releases on Marcel Fengler's label and Unterton, rising techno producer Somewhen makes it onto the main Ostgut label. Part of Berlin's new school of artists, AFL doesn't focus exclusively on one style. Instead, Somewhen varies the release by moving from the storming dark techno of "Ryte" - replete with doomy vocals - to the murky downtempo "Undress", which unravels to the sound of eerie strings and more mysterious voices., Shifting gear again, the title track is a noisy, broken beat workout, while on "Kilo",
a straighter approach prevails. Revolving around a pulsing groove, its acidic undercurrents are sure to have the right impact on the main floors of the German capital's clu
Review: While Berlin's Answer Code Request certainly comes from a techno mentality, the producer has shifted his focus to what Shed, and the rest of his compatriots, have eventually gravitated towards. This new LP for the capital's Ostgut Ton label, is more bass than tech, and we think that this is extremely well-suited to the man's loose, freeform take on German dance music. In fact, this is more UK than anything, with the majority of these tunes breaking the all-too-predictable 4/4 trance for something much more in line with the likes of Hessle Audio or Night Slugs. However, this is very much an Answer Code Request flex, with what undertones of German industrialism seeping their way through the percussion and structure of the grooves. What a corker - recommended!
Review: Fiedel is the latest Berghain resident DJ to contribute to its mix series and this sampler release captures the machine-driven energy of his varied sets. Electric Indigo's contribution, "Registers", is a cavernous, steely arrangement designed for maximum impact in the Berlin club's high-ceilinged main room, while Stefan Rein's "Panther" is more of a heads-down banger, charged to provide a boost to tired dancers. Fiedel makes a diversion with the off centre broken beats and odd but inspired combination of industrial drums and animal sounds on rRoxymore's "Tropicalcore", while Fiedel himself gets down and dirty with fellow resident Boris for the bleep-heavy, tone-shifting "Div'hain".
Review: This debut single from previously unseen outfit LSD is remarkable for a number of reasons, not least the fact that the trio is made up of legendary UK techno producers Luke Slater, Steve Bicknell and Dave Summer AKA Function. Given their collective history of making thumping, mind-altering techno, you'd expect Progress to be both heavy and trippy. That's certainly what you get from opener "Process 1", where psychedelic electronics and cascading, otherworldly noises rise above an armour-plated techno groove. They push the envelope even further on "Process 2", a track blessed with restless cymbal lines and weird, off-key electronics. In comparison, the similarly intense "Process 3" seems deep and woozy, though the incessant, 1990 style bleeps and "LFO" style synths guarantees a suitably hallucinogenic feel throughout.
Review: Following on from her impressive third album, Steffi delivers a killer deep techno EP. The sound and mood on this two-tracker are similar to the tone that prevailed on World Of The Waking State. Inspired by classic UK and US techno from the 90s, "Exit the Ego" is a high-paced groove that resounds to insistent chord stabs, an upfront bass and even some vaguely menacing sirens. On "The Big White Bang", the Panorama Bar resident opts for a more introspective approach. While the groove is rickety and off-beat and the acid lends some sense of urgency, the overall mood is that of introspection - a common theme in what is Steffi's most rewarding artistic phase yet.
Review: By Steffi's own admission, State was recorded after she had 'freed' herself from a personal situation. This explains why the Dutch producer, who now feels more comfortable creatively, has made a third album that is more experimental than its predecessors. In places, it sounds influenced heavily by early 90s UK techno and electronics - in particular "All Living Things" is a dead-ringer for B12's Detroit-focused abstractions. At the same time, it still contains echoes of her previous albums. The warm, warbling bass on "Schools of Thought" could easily fit into the Panorama Bar's deep house releases. Counteracting this link to her past is the hyper-speed title track, where she channels Stingray's pacey electro funk, and the jittery, discordant techno of "Mental Events". It all adds up to an impressive, mature work.
Review: Over the space of just a few releases, Etapp Kyle has established himself as one of techno's most promising new artists. Of course, it helped him significantly that those initial Eps came out on labels like Klockworks, Prologue, Unterton and now Ostgut, the mother label associated with Berlin club Berghain, where he has a residency. As Alpha shows, Kyle's approach to techno is of the non-purist variety. On the title track, the sparse rhythmic pulses of Klockworks collide with Detroit otherworldliness for an expansive track. "Quantum" is more direct and sees the Ukrainian artist use his loose sounding drums and percussion to undercut a darker approach, while clouds of filtered sound and eerie textures crash in over the doubled up drums of "Source". "Ritual" sees him complete the release with a hint of bass-heavy menace, not entirely dissimilar to Prologue's sound.
Review: Fixmer is fresh from remixing Depeche Mode, but don't expect to hear any synth pop influences here. In reality, the opposite is true. Force sees him deliver one of his most bruising releases to date. The title track kick-starts the release with noisy riffs and brutal kicks, as oppressive as the mid-day heat in Death Valley. "Melting Planets" sees he French producer embrace surging chords, and is not quite as foreboding, but it's only a temporary reprieve. Fixmer brings back a dark mood with the stripped back "Sidewalk", which resounds to jittery, minimalist beats, while on "Striking Patterns" an understated sense of menace rumbles on.
Review: Despite his young age, Kobosil has already got a series of well-regarded releases to his credit, including a debut album on Ostgut. 105, his latest release for the label, will only serve to consolidate this reputation. "OOL" resounds to a pounding rhythm and rough, frazzled kicks, exactly the kind of track that is tailor made for Berghain's main floor. "Bei Nacht (178)" is of a similar disposition and revolves around a rolling, percussive groove and tough drums, while the aptly-named "Derange" sees the young German artist deliver a pacey, percussive workout. The most impressive track is "Backmask N"; a tough, pacey percussive roller, it hinges on the kind of sub-bass menace that Suburban Knight used to specialise in.
Review: Work is Nick Hoppner's second album for the iconic label that he manages, but despite this reversal of roles, it shows his considerable talent and versatility when it comes to making music. "All By Themselves (My Belle)" is a dreamy pop track, while on "Clean Living" he adeptly mixes deep house synths and floaty melodies with a churning Chicago bass. "In My Mind" is a stripped back affair that breaks into soaring melodies, while on "Hole Head', he veers into broken beats and jazzy chords. "The Dark Segment" continues Hoppner's voyage into the abstract, featuring broken beats and eerie sound scapes, while he heads back to the dance floor with the flamboyant Latino chords and pared back rhythm of "Forced Resonance". It's an assured second album from one of Ostgut's secret weapons.
Review: Despite featuring what appears to be a refugee camp viewed from the other side of a fence on its cover, Vatican Shadow's "They Deserve Death" is one of its author Dominc Fernow's most mellow, introspective moments. Its layered guitar textures recall The Durutti Column's eponymous album and early New Order. Shifting the tempo and style for the title track, the author surprises again with what sounds like his approximation of jacking Chicago house, albeit with a man groaning away in the background. Completing what is one of Fernow's most unpredictable releases is the tunneling techno groove and layered, distant shrieks of "Weapons Inspection".
Review: Center is Tobias Freund's third studio album for Ostgut and its title provides a good indication of where its author is at. It veers in style from the dense electro of "Cr 24" to the experimental abstractions of "Autopoiesis" and "Single Minded" and ominous dark ambient compositions like "In Between". There is more dance floor friendly techno tracks such as "Blind Mass", but it is not like Freund makes conventional music and both "Mass" and "Syndrome" resound to stepping rhythms, layered textures and insistent percussion. This has a lot to do with Freund's background as a studio engineer and his perfectionist approach, and it feels like every note, tone and frequency on Center has been carefully, expertly calculated.
Review: It's a case of gamekeeper turned poacher as Ostgut boss Nick Hoppner appears again on the label, following his 2015 debut album, Folk. This three-tracker is like a distillation of his time spent in the Panorama Bar booth. The title track is a hypnotic, techy groove, covered in warm, hazy chords and redolent of classic David Alvarado's Sun Children material. On "Still", Hoppner keeps it deep, but injects some trippy acid undercurrents. The closing track, "Out of Sight", is the most dance floor friendly, with Hoppner opting for a lithe, swinging rhythm as a backing for his warm, sun-kissed chords and melodies.
Review: Despite being associated with the Berghain-Ostgut operation for years and releasing the occasional track for the label, Substance B is Fiedel's first full EP for the German imprint. It's a dark, heavy affair, but not without the funk and sense of groove that is audible in all of his solo work and his MMM collaborations. "Substance B" itself sees him drop tough kicks and acidic licks, backed by a disco-y groove, while on "Track 432", he veers into a 303-heavy direction, accompanied by eerie synths but also a rolling rhythm. Only "S Drive" lacks Fiedel's usual playful approach - and sees him deliver the kind of quasi-industrial prowler that will hit the spot in Berghain's darkest corners.
Review: With releases on Live At Robert Johnson - including two albums - Balihu and Uncanny Valley, Pagliara might seem like an unusual choice of artist to put out music on Ostgut. That said, the Italian producer has had a long association with Berghain and was even a regular at its first incarnation. In any case, "If I Try to Forget I Will Miss You Even More" sees him ride a pulsing electronic disco groove, while on "Time And Again" he provides a rougher version of that sound as a pulsing bass and raw drums crash and pound away. "To A Faraway Place", with its insistent chord builds, is the kind of track that Steffi might play in the Panorama Bar, but it's only a fleeting nod at the club's chosen soundtrack and Pagliara quickly swings back towards the left of centre - this time with the acidic downtempo epic, "A Passing Day".
Review: Quite a number of techno fans will go weak at the knees when they spot this expansive collaboration between longtime friends and occasional studio partners Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock. It's their first combined release since 2013. Every one of the 7 tracks are full of high quality, atmospheric, late night techno workouts, from the creepy riffs and off-kilter drums of "Phantom Studies", and the horror-influenced post-dubstep shuffle of "The Room", to the raging, mind-altering dancefloor heaviness of "Bay Boy" and sparse, minimalist techno closer "The Tenant". Given their abilities as producers, we'd expect nothing less than superbly produced, club-ready cuts. Predictably, Phantom Studies delivers that in spades.
Review: Turns is the second album from Sam Barker and Berghain resident Andy 'Nd' Baumecker and shows that the pair have evolved and matured. "Encipher & Decipher" is rooted on the dance floor, but flows to the sound of ghostly synths and spellbinding bleeps. The pair also deploy this musical approach in slower settings audible on the reflective opener "Senden", while "Nocturnal" is an uptempo but chord-heavy groover similar to Aril Brikha. Some references to an electronic, experimental sound linger though; this is audible on the glitchy beats of "Club Entropicana" and the bass-heavy "Turnhalle", but overall, Turns is a musical, melodic affair.