- Dave Sumner has been DJing for over 25 years, but even for him, making a mix for Berghain was a daunting task—"the single most difficult music project I've ever worked on," as he recently told RA. There are a few reasons for that kind of pressure. The high standard of quality set by the series' previous six installments is one. And remember that Sumner was the first outsider to enter the fray; though he's a resident at the storied Berlin club, he didn't cut his teeth there, nor is his reputation as a DJ tied to Berghain and its trademark style of techno. Then there's the matter of exclusive tracks, further complicated by the open-ended nature of Ostgut's new digital-only format. Sumner ended up collecting a whopping 17 exclusive productions for the 30-track mix. The result is an impeccable set that sounds like a document of something he could conceivably lay down at the Berlin club.
One of the most striking things about Berghain 07 is how smooth the mixing is. Instead of the perfection of something stitched together in Ableton, it moves with the feel of a calm hand working a rotary mixer. The mix is glossy, dynamic and surprisingly melodic at times. This might be music to soundtrack a renowned techno dungeon, but it's full of incandescent synths and cinematic leads. Sumner has a way of filling in holes you didn't even realize were there: Rødhåd's "Kinder Der Ringwelt" into Christian Wünsch's "Auger Electrons" is one early example of his intricate, LEGO-block mixing style.
It helps Berghain 07's consistency that Sumner selects producers who share his own sleek, aerodynamic perspective on techno. Luke Slater's all over the thing as both Planetary Assault Systems and L.B. Dub Corp, and their whooshing momentum and groovy basslines, respectively, help give the mix its character. Peter Van Hoesen, Post Scriptum (an anonymous signing to Sumner's label, Infrastructure NY) and Blue Hour all provide moments of fluid motion. Those tracks sit well amidst a handful of classics. CJ Bolland's "Horsepower" pairs with Teste's "The Wipe" for a fierce early climax around the 20-minute mark; if you didn't already know, you might never guess these tracks date back to the early '90s.
That one of Berghain 07's biggest moments happens so early on is another sign of how differently it works. The mix is full of little flashpoints, yet another mark of Sumner's capable and even-handed DJing. Rather than take a build-and-build approach, he pulls the beat in and out periodically, letting listeners hang for short periods in the middle of a mix. It's a tricky path to navigate, but Sumner pulls it off. Towards the end of Berghain 07, two L.B. Dub Corp tunes bookend a gorgeous ambient wash, in which Sumner's "Golden Dawn" melds with Carl Craig's "Twilight." It sounds like the end of the mix, but Sumner pulls it together with another Slater track, transitioning into the powerful home stretch.
In his recent interview with RA, Sumner said he wanted Berghain 07 to feel "fresh." Sure enough, it's full of star-gazing melody and lush synthesizer that sound glossy and modern even as they call black to the '90s. Sumner avoids long, trippy blends and quick-and-dirty cuts in favor of the un-flashy style he's spent decades perfecting. It's that approach—what he might describe as the "fundamentals"—that makes Berghain 07 such a treat to listen to, 90 minutes of a battle-tested veteran spinning his favorite producers for his favorite club. Berghain 07 has the impressive level of comfort and ease that the club always seems to bring out in its residents.
01. Tadeo - Reqiuem
02. Post Scriptum - Constant Acceleration Drive
03. Rødhåd - Kinder Der Ringwelt
04. Christian Wünsch - Auger Electrons
05. DVS1 - Electric
06. Mark Broom - Satellite
07. Rrose - Signs
08. Teste - The Wipe
09. CJ Bolland - Horsepower
10. Cleric - Concrete
11. Blue Hour - Common Ground
12. Peter Van Hoesen - Objects From The Past (Neel Remix)
13. Psykofuk - Psykofuk
14. Steve Bicknell - Transcendence #3
15. Post Scriptum - Human Timescales
16. Steve Bicknell - Odyssey #1
17. Steve Bicknell - Odyssey #2
18. Planetary Assault Systems - Arc
19. Allen - Kepler
20. Cassegrain & Tin Man - Oxide
21. Inland - Sca Fell
22. Truncate - 86
23. L.B. Dub Corp - Roller feat. Function (Len Faki Interpretation)
24. Function - Golden Dawn feat. Stefanie Parnow (Live Version)
25. Carl Craig - Twilight
26. L.B. Dub Corp - So Much
27. Blue Hour - Parallels
28. Abdulla Rashim - A Shell Of Speed
29. Silent Servant - Noise Treatment I
30. Sandwell District - Untitled A