- With the rise of minimal, techno's centre of gravity shifted. The harder sounds which had long reigned supreme—The Advent, Surgeon, Speedy J, and Chris Liebling are just a few of the biggest names—fell out of favour, as most techno DJs started slowing down the BPMs and refilling their record crates. This shift was most clearly symbolized with the closure of the mighty Tresor club – for so long home to the hardest techno about. The general consensus was that techno had gotten into a locked groove—too loopy, too banging, too stuck in the same sounds—and its charms were tiring.
Yet recently we’ve been seeing the emergence of a new take on techno. And while Tresor may be up and running again at a new location, it is at another Berlin club, Berghain, where this renaissance is taking place. This new sound clearly shares some characteristics with minimal—most notably a Hardwax/Basic Channel influence and much slower BPMs—but it is clearly distinct, and undeniably techno. If you want a snapshot of the sound (and you can’t afford a ticket to Berlin), then Berghain 02 is for you: this is one of the best, and most timely, mix CDs to have appeared in the last year or two.
In providing a clear manifesto for this new sound, it’s fitting that Berghain 02 incorporates a number of specially commissioned tracks, including the records from veteran producer Tobias and newcomer Norman Nodge which open the mix. Their tone sets the scene for what to come: much like the architecture of Berghain itself, the sounds are stripped back, spacious, and hard-edged. Nodge’s ‘Native Rhythm Electric’ is dark, dynamic and captivating, and later in the mix, the thunderous ‘Vangal’ by Samuli Kempi proves to be a real highlight.
It’s a forward-looking variety of techno, but it’s also rooted in what’s come before. In the clubs, Dettmann likes mixing in the classics, and Berghain 02 finds space for three older records. Closing with Strand’s ‘Zephyr’ (1996) works perfectly, but the placement of the other two feels a bit forced. 'The Jacking Zone' (1986) is an amazing track no doubt, but its inclusion here disrupts the flow, while the abrupt crossfade that announces Kevin Saunderson’s ‘Just Want Another Chance’ (1988) is also rather awkward. These are minor complaints, though.
Elsewhere the mix is something of a definitive statement of where techno is at now, and where it is going. It’s a purist vision to be sure, but it is by no means limited: T++’s excellent ‘Mo 1’ is dubsteppish, ‘Warped Mind’ by Shed is standout neo-Detroit, while the piano riffs and gradual undulations of Radio Slave’s ‘Tantakatan’ underscores the link between Berghain and Rekids’ crossover hypnotism (Radio Slave fans new to Dettmann are advised to give this mix a try.) In short, it’s something of a guided tour of the most innovative and forward-thinking techno around.
Simply put, this CD is a winner. The track selection is near flawless and the mixing is of a standard you’d expect from a veteran like Dettmman. André Galluzzi’s first volume in the Berghain series was somewhat underappreciated, but that fate won’t befall Dettmann’s volume. Chances are we’ll look back at Berghain 02 as a defining movement when techno got out of that locked groove, and started moving forward again.
01 tobias. - Balance
02 Norman Nodge - Native Rhythm Electric
03 Pied Plat - Double Trouble
04 Planetary Assault Systems - Kat
05 Tadeo - Reflection Nebula 056n (Substance Remix)
06 Risqué Rythum Team - The Jacking Zone
07 Samuli Kemppi - Vangel
08 Kevin Saunderson - Just Want Another Chance
09 Clatterbox - Press On
10 Redshape - Plonk
11 Shed - Warped Mind
12 Tadeo - 4
13 Kate Simko - She Said (Ryan Elliott Edit)
14 Deetron - Let’s Get Over It (Marcel Dettmann Remix)
15 T++ - Mo #1
16 Radio Slave - Tantakatan
17 Luke Hess - Believe & Receive
18 Strand - Zephyr