- On a drizzly November evening, ://about blank's graffiti-daubed facade made for a welcome sight. Framed by a mess of roadworks and rerouted water pipes, the Friedrichshain spot is a reliable place to hear stellar tunes in an unfussy environment. As one local punter articulately put it, "there's no Schnickschnack here." (The rough translation into English is "poppycock.")
Mirroring ://about blank's ethos, Oscillate is a two-year-old event with a rep for curating no-nonsense lineups. When I crossed the threshold in the early hours of Sunday morning, I was greeted by the melodic sounds of Luca Lozano. He was opening the Lobby, a rectangular room flanked by a bar and fitted with a punchy soundsystem, playing bubbling house that sounded great from the narrow dance floor.
Over in MDF, German duo Annanan opened with the night's first live set. Entirely improvised, their arty blend of sequencers, drum machines and vocal loops created a haunting atmosphere on the smokey floor. Australian DJ Rachel Lyn, who recently relocated to Berlin, went next, stirring the crowd into a frenzy with her seamless mixing and techno weapons, such as Sunil Sharpe's "She Shatters." A grinning man at the front showed his appreciation by clapping maniacally under the flashing strip lights for what seemed like minutes.
Back in the Lobby, Montreal's Marie Davidson was working her way around a complicated setup with fervent zeal. After Lozano's meticulous DJ set, there was something wholesome about the momentary gaps between Davidson's poetic live tracks, making it feel more like a gig than a club night. By the time I returned to MDF, Stanislav Tolkachev was lumbering up onto the stage and the room was thronging. Plonked behind an array of equipment that looked like a power station's control panel, the shaggy-haired Ukrainian set about crafting the night's keynote performance. His peculiar, distinctive style of techno seemed to span the spectrum of electronic sounds, incorporating glitchy breaks, jagged bleeps and thundering bass. Though it only lasted an hour, the complexity and atonality of the MORD man's offering was sublime.
Christian S. offered some welcome respite after Tolkachev's onslaught, moving between mesmeric house (Daniel Maloso's "Caracol") and disco classics (Chic's "Everybody Dance"). It was around 8 AM at this point and the crowd had started to thin, which was a shame given that there was still a good few hours of music remaining. For the stragglers, the ever-smiling Kate Miller played a vinyl-only set packed with old-school bangers, while Johanna Knutsson wrapped up MDF with one last hurrah of pulsating techno. As I stumbled out into the Sunday morning sunshine, the words of Oscillate promoter Mato Tonmodul rang in my head: "It's all about the music." He couldn't be more right.