Fiedel - Berghain 08

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  • The official mix has been on life support for years, but Ostgut Ton has done more than most to keep it alive. Along with fabric and DJ-Kicks, the Berghain and Panorama Bar series weathered the death of the CD, a format now unplayable for most listeners, and remained relevant amidst an ever-rising tide of podcasts. They did this not only by releasing excellent mixes from the club's hallowed cast of resident DJs, but by helping to modernize the format itself, namely by embracing parts of the digital free-for-all that had upended it. Like podcasts, Berghain and Panorama Bar mixes are now released for free online, and can go as long as they need to. But like mix CDs, they include only music that has been properly licensed—that is, music the label has legal permission to use in the mix, an obligation most podcasts ignore—and are released with all the pomp and circumstance of an album. This balancing act worked well on Ryan Elliott's Panorama Bar 06 and Function's Berghain 07. It's less successful on Ostgut Ton's latest mix, Berghain 08, mixed by Fiedel. Berghain 08 follows the same approach as the club's last two mixes, with one significant difference: Fiedel recorded it at Berghain during a party there last November. It's easy to see the appeal of this approach. If the goal is to capture the spirit of the club, why not document an actual set there, complete with whoops from the crowd and the imperfections of a club set? But the reality is more complex. The atmosphere and energy of a dance floor will not always come through in a recording, especially of a place so utterly removed from day-to-day reality as Berghain. That this is also an officially licensed mix adds another complication. In picking and playing his records, Fiedel had to cater to both the needs of the party and the needs of the mix, drawing from tracks that had either already been licensed or easily could be, while finding time to weave in the tracks he'd commissioned for the Berghain 08 EP. And while mistakes might be forgotten moments later on the dance floor, in recordings they live on forever. Listening to the end result, it feels like the live-in-the-club approach hurt the mix more than it helped it. Fiedel is an exceptional artist and DJ, bringing to the club a knowledge of classic techno as deep as any of his fellow residents, plus a strange kind of dub-influenced art-rave sound he shares with his frequent production partner, Errorsmith (the two together are MMM). Here, though, he seems unable to find his footing, never quite settling into a groove and only occasionally sounding unmistakably like himself. Across the mix's two hours and 19 minutes, he struggles through a few too many wobbly mixes, including a couple of outright clangers. Some might say those imperfections have merit, emphasizing the mix's realness as a document of Berghain's dance floor. But that's a hard sell in an age when any number of near-perfect mixes are released for free each month, including ones recorded at clubs and festivals. Indeed, today many DJs would slave over any mix intended for public consumption, recording as many takes as needed to get them exactly right, even for relatively little-known podcasts or free mix series. This makes it all the more confusing that an official mix from techno's loftiest institution should be so objectively flawed. It's a shame that this should be a rare moment in the spotlight for Fiedel, a dark horse of Berlin's techno scene who definitely deserves more props. Berghain 08 is at its best when his unique flair shines through—see Cooly G's "Phat Si," a crafty Hyperdub B-side that I'd guess no one else has ever played in Berghain. The exclusive tracks, especially the ones at the beginning and end—Electric Indigo's "Registers" and rRoxymore's "Tropicalcore"—are some of the mix's best. But these moments only hint at what Berghain 08 could have been if it were better executed. As it is, it does neither the club nor the DJ justice.
  • Tracklist
      01. Electric Indigo - Registers 02. Planetary Assault Systems - Kat 03. Jay Clarke - In The Shadows 04. Savas Pascalidis - Nautilus 05. Robert Hood - Spectra 06. DJ Hell - Please Get Out 07. Noncompliant - Women's Work 08. Juan Atkins - Session 1 (Original) 09. Ø [Phase] -Binary Opposition (Peter Van Hoesen Process) 10. Stefan Rein - Panther 11. Unknown Force - Circuit Maximus 12. Ausgang - Acetat 13. Espen Lauritzen - F/T/S 14. Avgusto - Hidden Visitors 15. Gonzalo MD - Violent Environment 16. Luis Flores - 43 17. Jeff Rushin - Atom 18. Ron Albrecht - Several Faces 19. Remco Beekwilder - Planet Acid 20. Messiahwaits - Journey To Mars 21. Espen Lauritzen - Cid B 22. Rok - Coke N Shit 23. Space DJz - Side On 24. Your Silent Face - A Place Where Arms Bend Backwards (Fiedel's Rework) 25. Substance Gannets 26. Fiedel - Track 342 27. Marcel Dettmann - Planning 28. Lewis Fautzi - Diffracted 29. Steffi (8) - Exit The Ego 30. Sandbenders - If Possible 31. Dopplereffekt - Voice Activated 32. Shake - Frictionalized 33. Boris & Fiedel - Div'hain 34. Errorsmith - I'm Interesting, Cheerful & Sociable 35. Cooly G - Phat Si 36. Hodge - No Single Thing 37. rRoxymore - Tropicalcore