Treatment at Robert Johnson

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  • Having an airline lose your records is never fun, but the bags usually turn up quickly, and besides, these days even most vinyl DJs carry emergency USBs. Not so for Onur Özer and Binh, who flew from Ibiza to Offenbach on Friday to play their second Treatment night at Robert Johnson, only to have four bags of vinyl disappear en route. They were scheduled to play back-to-back all night, but instead spent the opening hours scouring the region's Discogs sellers in an attempt to replace the lost tunes. You couldn't help but feel a little deflated as the news spread—fans had travelled considerable distances to hear the duo's striking combination of electro, early-Warp electronica and wiggy loop techno on the club's superlative Martin Audio soundsystem. But as it turned out, you'd never have known anything was amiss. The Treatment sound is quite different to what you hear from Binh and Özer individually. Their album from last year is just about the only way to get a glimpse of what they're about, although Özer's forthcoming EP on Binh's Time Passages is also cut from the same cloth. Think syncopated, bit-crushed drum machines, wandering basslines, atonal, bleepy melodies and abstract pads. Hearing this music at Robert Johnson made for a refreshing experience. Where Berlin clubs often create an isolated, everyone-in-their-own-headspace vibe, the crowd at Treatment were young and quick to chat with strangers. The club was barely half-full for the duration of the night, which only made it feel more intimate. Despite the record drama, the music was engrossing and often bewildering. Maybe it's a case of rarely getting to hear floor-ready electro and electronica records on a proper soundsystem, but their impact was something to remember. On multiple occasions Özer or Binh would mine a sweet spot between early IDM, Detroit electro and bleep. Then, a ways in, the track would suddenly jump into a straight kick-hat combo, its forward momentum all the more sweet for being so unexpected. The odd Amen break would appear in the mix like a cherry on a cake, leaving you to wonder where the hell they found records with all these cross-genre elements and a functional, party-guaranteed pay-off. Even when they'd play something fairly recognisable, like an Aux 88 track, it would sound like you'd never heard it before, or at least not quite in this way. Things got increasingly weird as the sun came up. Rather than ease things down with deeper cuts, they took the chance to play riskier stuff. No matter how far off the deep end they went, there was always a reassuring fall-back to swinging techno with on-point drums and satisfying basslines. Önur and Binh make you wonder why more DJs aren't mixing between these styles. It makes for stronger contrasts, more impact and a great night out, even when four bags of wax have gone missing.