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Marcel Dettmann

Dettmann II

“Dettmann II” is a sequel in a true sense, the album marks a return to the spirit of his debut, but things feel less tense this time around. Dettmann brings his recent experimental outlook and applies it to the album template, creating a record that lives and breathes with a naturalism rare for a techno album. Expertly paced, “Dettmann II” impresses especially with its carefully rising narrative. As the album barrels into action with the particulate grit of “Throb” and “Ductil”, Dettmann is in fine style. Each tune’s central theme is a bit more out there than usual, from the sheet metal racket of “Lightworks” to the house-hinting chorus of “Soar”, which is every bit as majestic as its title implies. He offers up some top-notch ambient material as well, like the trippy “Shiver”, or the ominous “Outback”, which features contributions from Levon Vincent.

Dettmann also reaches for a rare collaboration on his second album. Kindred spirit Emika lends her spectral gasps to “Seduction”, which stays stunningly antiseptic even as it weaves her voice into its wire framework. With “Dettmann II”’s stretch of tracks “Radar” and “Corridor”, the album finally takes flight into full-on club mania, fist-pumping career-high material with all the subtlety of his old work molded up into a spiky banger.

“Aim”, which ends the record in lofty fashion, hints at a new direction for Dettmann, uncharacteristically melodic and even uplifting. Co-produced by René Pawlowitz, it bears the Shed touch but keeps it firmly in Dettmann’s finely-honed world. The first track written for the album and the one that initiated the album sessions in the first place, it carefully hints at new directions while keeping its glance firmly in Dettmann’s established history - which you could say for the album as a whole, gently moving towards new horizons but always keeping in mind what made Dettmann’s past music so great in the first place.


STAFF COMMENTS

Patrick says: Dettmann calls time on summer, speeding winter along with a majestic record for the long nights ahead. Rigid percussion is paired with shimmering melody as he takes a small step away from the brutal minimalism of his first album.

Barker & Baumecker

Transsektoral

Techno comes in all shapes and sizes, and few recent outfits embody that truth more obviously than Berlinʼs Barker & Baumecker. One operates as Barker/Voltek and the other as nd_baumecker. Both solo projects exhibit unconventional takes on techno inflected by the influence of other genres, from glitch to dubstep to ambient and beyond.

Titled “Transsektoral”, the album name refers to the duoʼs ambition to travel across the entire spectrum of electronic music. Thatʼs what they do on the LP, bridging a seemingly impossible gap between the dubby blobs of ambient opener “Sektor” to the effervescent bubbling of the epic closer “Spur,” like happy hardcore unravelled and disassembled into a soothing afterword worthy of someone like Dntel.

These are machinistic creations that swell with organic respiration and lush life, despite their artificial origins. The album jumps from garage-leaning bouncy house with “No Body” to exuberant tonnes-heavy off- kilter house (“Buttcracker”) where bubbles of caustic acid send the track into overdrive - yet none of these shifts quite feel like the gigantic stylistic leaps they represent. Instead, theyʼre smoothed out into something altogether pleasant and listenable, the album itself sharing each trackʼs own gentle sense of development and build-up.

Thatʼs largely due to careful sequencing: for every stretch of twitchy funk like “Schlang Bang” - where hi-hats and snares swim against a sea of topsy-turvy basslines like in difficult backstrokes - or the pumping liquid grooves of “Trans_it,” there are brief but texturally rich interludes like the sleepy-eyed “Tranq,” which rumbles reassuringly below a palette of twinkling synths. The album has an ebb-and-flow that makes its eccentricities enjoyable rather than obnoxious. And eccentric it is, particularly on mid-album highlight “Crows” (reworked for the single “A Murder of Crows” earlier this year) where what sounds like a blaring horn fanfare lights the dark passage of rustling snares - a startlingly unexpected turn that quickly becomes natural.

By the time we get to the end of the album, the simmer becomes nearly unbearable and finally boils over with the aweinspiring “Silo,” the track that betrays the duoʼs Berghain heritage (Barker runs the clubʼs Leisure System night, Baumecker is a booker for the club and long serving resident DJ there), where hissing hats get lost in a wringer of ropy vicegrip basslines and violent whiplash kick drums. Itʼs almost the albumʼs one concession to conventionality. Itʼs a perfect distillation of the overall aesthetic that Barker & Baumecker reveal with “Transsektoral” - it makes perfect sense in execution, but put it on paper and itʼs nearly incomprehensible, not to mention sprawling. Itʼs enough to make you wonder what kind of magic they did to put it together in the first place.

Berghain's Marcel Fengler presents the fifth installment in the club's expanding mix series. A central resident at the club since its early days, Fengler continually and consistently fires up the Berghain floor with his vast and exemplary collection of techno, house and electronica.

Fengler's colourful mix includes new exclusives from Peter Van Hoesen, Reagenz & Vril, and also gathers together a wealth of producers both new and old, from Claude Young, Luke Slater, Ben Sims and Regis, to Skudge, Gerd, Seiji and Convextion, a lot of them providing previously unreleased material. Opening with the eerie echoes of Emika's "Count Backwards", the mix moves into Peter Van Hoesen's incredible "Axis Mundi", which sets the tone from here on in: full, lively and not short on drama. Pushing into darker zones, Regis' typically haunting mix of Tommy Four Seven's "G", or Luke Slater's LB Dub Corp mix of Fengler's own "Thwack" segue with more classic cuts from Secret Cinema's "Timeless Altitude (Minneapolis Mix)" and Ratio's "Doublefeature".

Fengler keeps the surprise element alive while maintaining tension and pressure throughout. Gerd's tripping "Time and Space" mixes with Seiji's "More of You" in a glorious mid point throw-down. The mighty Claude Young teams up with production partner Takasi Nakajima on "Think Twice", which then swells to pick up the tension in a beautiful piano-led hypnotising movement. With the focus on more current developments in more edgy techno and house, combined with a hearty nod to the past, the mix continues with newcomers like Puresque showing promise, alongside a weighty new Ben Sims track, and the pounding filtered glory of Vril's "UV" - another exclusive for the mix. Marcel includes a new track that heads straight for the floor with "Sphinx", while men of the moment Skudge put forward "Man On Wire". The slow burning house of Reagenz' "The Labyrinth“ leads us into a psychedelic game of funk, dub and abstraction as the mix winds down. Before drawing to a close with Convextion aka ERP's stunning "Vapor Pressure", we're treated to a UK house classic by 20:20 Vision's "Future Remembrance (Livestyle Mix)", in all its analog glory. With Berghain 05, Marcel Fengler has proved filling floors doesn't have to be about ticking boxes.

This mix is a perfect example of the type of dexterity, sensitivity and scope he possesses as a DJ.

Ostgut starts 2011 with the fantastic debut album by Berlin-based Dutch producer and DJ Steffi. Having become a resident DJ at Panorama Bar, Steffi has managed to firmly establish herself as a force to be reckoned with on the tech-house scene. A long period of intense experimentation and self-discovery led to this sensitive, instinctive and extremely insightful long-player. Carefully mixing the old and new, warm analog synth and drum textures flow in unison with modern studio finesse over nine tracks, each telling their own story. Ethereal, hypnotic passages and positive, uplifting messages to the dancefloor meet temperate, slow-building vibes and heart-wrenching moments. Often simplicity blurs into satisfying complexity. Moments of sheer joy arise against the backdrop of a rich and elegantly controlled exploration into her own sound.

Opening track "Lilo“ is a soothing, harmonious forecast of this wonderful deep dance music album; swirling, and reduced. A warm solid state thump drives it however, and it becomes clear that the beauty in Steffi's house music lies in this meeting of classic, emotion-drenched melodies and bold, earthy drums. The tactile "Piem“ rises and climbs with a strong late-night intensity before "Yours“ featuring Virginia come fore. Steffi recently collaborated with Virginia on the excellent "Reasons“ EP for Underground Quality, and now her smooth and distinctive voice shines in this powerful recording. Striking a clever balance between positive, addictive pop and and straight up club energy this vocal-led future-classic is a loud and proud testament to how far Steffi has come. "Arms“ is a string-led jack track, a slow burner in the best sense, and all the better for it. Similarly "Manic Moods“ sells itself on the strength of its handful of carefully crafted analog synth lines. The urgent, sci-fi tones and extended, soaring strings of "Mine“ bring it back back to the club as heady images of warehouses past, present and future flash before us. This retro-futurism is then taken further with the muscular "Nightspacer“, whose NY house roots are fleshed out by blossoming pads and an unstoppable throbbing, traveling vibe. Drawing the album towards its close, the deeply spaced "You Own My Mind“, featuring Virginia's beautifully smooth vocals washes over and wraps around us in a calming and gently melancholic blanket of colorful sound.



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