Sets by Berlin dj Alle Farben always feel like a breath of fresh air. The great thing about Alle Farben is that, unlike so many (deep/tech) house dj’s nowadays, particularly in the Netherlands, he is Not. Boring. But continually adds real groove, originality and excitement to his sets.
Listen to this delightful 3-hour set, which manages to be light-hearted, exotic, groovy, and interesting at the same time.
From Berlin producer/dj Shed comes a new album, ‘The Killer‘, hailed by Resident Advisor as contender for techno album of the year, which can be streamed until July 27 here (much better sound quality than YouTube, so make sure to take a listen). It’s full of sparse, dystopic techno, but intermingled with all kinds of dub, breakbeat, ambient and classic house elements, making it a true sonic journey, rather than an album full of dancefloor killers.
For instance, check out this brutal, old-fashioned techno track, ‘I Come By Night’, very much the Berghain/Ostgut sound, but with an almost religious kind of melody on the background.
Also check out Day After. Possibly even better. Great interplay between kick and snare drums and a great melody, rather original too.
Great way to kick off your saturday night: an amazing set by Paul Rose (Scuba & SCB) and John Osborn from last weekend in the Panoramabar (downloadable).
According to John Osborn:
Before the gig I was apprehensive about a B2B set with SCB at Panorama Bar for two reasons: one being that Paul Rose is a DJ of such high caliber, and second that I am quite a selfish DJ in the sense that I generally have my own plan and I like to lay that plan out and adjust it as I see fit. So I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out at all, especially that it was at Panorama Bar! These apprehensions were laid to rest as it very quickly became clear that this B2B set was a very fluid process of reading each others track choices providing plenty of ‘I’ll set ‘em up and you knock ‘em down’ moments. I think Paul later tweeted something like ‘nothing like Panorama Bar & Berghain when it is on the point’ – that pretty much sums up the set.
According to Scuba on Facebook:
for the record i was high as hell for the whole of this this set… 9am til nearly 1pm, you only get part of it though alas
Why not: from early Detroit let’s go to contemporary Berlin. This Real Scenes documentary about techno culture in the German capital I wanted to post for a long time.
Not only does it capture perfectly well the romanticism of rave culture; it also demonstrates the evolution of Berlin from underground freak haven in the 1990s to current hotspot of the international “EasyJet set” (i.e. tourists). Club owners and dj’s talk about their mixed feelings regarding this development, and how they try to retain some of the original Berlin spirit. By means of restrictive door policies, for instance.
It’s a little unfortunate that there’s no original footage of how Berlin used to be in it, but still the images of Bar25 and Tresor make you wanna go there asap. And like the people interviewed say, there’s still enough secret locations and urban exploring going on, even in the center (plus club owners have their roots in the illegal scene), to last for a long time.
For the third edition of Real Scenes, RA and Bench go to one of the most special places for electronic music in the world: Berlin. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, techno became the underground soundtrack to the reunion between East and West. In recent years, it’s become an international destination for ravers—a cheap place to party with clubs that are renowned throughout the world.
Techno has become a business in the meantime. Yet Berlin still maintains a credibility that other cities lack. To understand why, RA and Bench went to the German capital eager to find out about its unique history and the reasons behind its continued relevance.
And so, at the end of the year, you suddenly encounter one of 2011′s finest techno tracks. It’s entirely the style that I personally have kinda discovered for myself this year, which is not the industrial, pounding big-room techno (which I still love, of course), but a more chilled, relaxed, spacey kind of floating techno. Love that.
This track by Berlin (of course) duo Andhim is a perfect example of this style (edit: this one too). Brings shivers down my spine, for one, so please listen to this -- it’s slow to start but picks up at 2:30:
- Edit: Also check out this equally hypnotizing, relaxed, spacey techno track by Andhim. These boys got talent!
Take your time for this uplifting and sunny 5-hour techno set by Berlin dj Alle Farben, interspersed with lots of 1950s swing, housy and other kinds of colorful moments, yet not lacking a decent beat. Featuring a lot of 2011′s techno and house hits. Wouldn’t mind hearing this on a summer festival.
Ironically, it’s mixed for the venerable German blog Kraftfuttermischwerk’s traditional countdown-to-Christmas Advent Calendar, featuring a fresh mix every day of December. Enjoy!
Modeselektor‘s got a new album out! These guys are like the epitomes of Berlin cool, and their gigs are always a blast, so I had a couple of listens. The overall feel of Monkeytown is Modeselektor experimenting some more with some non-techno styles and directions in electronic music of the past few years. Glitchy 8-bit sounds, dubstep/garage sounds from the UK, and all the while mixed with the trademark fat bass drum of the Berlin duo. Examples are the chilled-out Blue Clouds and Grillwalker.
I’m not very fond of every foray of the duo into gangsta hip-hop though: Pretentious Friends is cool, but Humanized kinda sucks. Also, the tracks with Thom Yorke, Shipwreck and This sound more like Radiohead than anything else (and boring too). Still the production is, as always, impeccable. In addition to the dirty bass, there’s lots of cool synth sounds and spacy vibes to enjoy.
All in all, Monkeytown is not as original or unexpected as Modeselektor’s previous ones; it’s way more in safe water. Still it’s quite allright. Here’s hoping that Modeselektor won’t lose their edge. Please don’t put too many gangsta rappers and avant garde rockers in front of those techno beats, guys!
There’s a couple of old-fashioned highlights on the album though, that we don’t wish to withhold. Be sure to check out Modeselektor’s take on R&B, Berlin, and the Moderat-like track War Cry. The tracks YouTubed below are definitely my favourites though (and stick the most to the traditional Modeselektor sound):
A very cool interview with Tobias Rapp (author of Lost and Sound: Techno and the Easyjetset; we covered the chapter on Berghain here) on Resident Advisor today. Rapp tells about his experiences of moving to Berlin in 1990, discovering the nascent techno scene and living there in the early 90′s, the time of UFO, E-werk and Tresor. Some excerpts:
Tobias Rapp was among the many young Germans who moved to Berlin just after the Wall came down, and who moved directly into a squat. He grew up in tandem with the city, from his early days raving in its virtually lawless clubs, to his eventual post as Der Spiegel‘s pop culture editor, and he saw how the techno scene changed with it. It’s a story he tells in his book, Lost and Sound: Berlin, Techno and the EasyJetset, and one he recounted on the back deck of RA’s Berlin office earlier this summer. In this personal and analytical account, Rapp recalls the unchecked freedom of early ’90s Berlin, and sheds light on how this atmosphere gave birth to what is now the city’s “folk music.”
The Summer of Squatting—the real heyday of squatting, ended in November of 1990 when the city started to kick out people—but the attitude of squatting remained. The whole history of techno in Berlin in the ’90s was really affected by this attitude that people learned in the summer of 1990. This attitude of, “You can take houses and do with them what you want to.” We kicked out walls, we threw stones out of the window, we tried stuff like having huge kitchens—like a whole apartment was a kitchen—the stuff like most of the people who live in communes do. But what was important for the techno scene was this attitude that you explore spaces and think about spaces in terms of possibilities. That’s where the Berlin techno scene got its attitude from.
Most of the clubs back then were just clubs for the weekend or for a couple of weeks and—maximum—for a couple of months. It was very transient. Also, the scene itself was very much word of mouth like, “Where is the party, where is it going to be?” Part of the experience was to explore the city, running through this empty city looking for a party. The inner city of Berlin, where the big stores are were empty and during the daytime there was nobody and during the nighttime there were all of these little groups looking for parties. It was really an amazing situation.
What did the city look like back then?
The city looked really different to how it looks now. You had WW II remnants everywhere, because the East didn’t clean up the city. You had broken buildings, walls with bullet holes, and you didn’t have that many cars because the East Germans just started to buy cars and the density of the population wasn’t that high. It was very gray and it smelled of coal because of these GDR cars that had this different motor. I really see how the Detroit guys felt at home in Berlin, because it didn’t look that different from Detroit. It was a very run-down city: the difference was that it wasn’t dangerous—it was safe, it just looked dangerous. If you were unlucky, you might get beat up by Nazis, but that wasn’t a regular thing that was happening.
A very big difference from Berlin in the early ’90s to Berlin now was that Berlin back then was a male city. You didn’t have as many girls and women in the streets as you have now. Now, when I look at the streets of Berlin, it’s filled with girls and women and the city has a huge attraction for people interested in fashion. That wasn’t the case in the early ’90s. Everybody was just wearing military pants and bomber jackets and had short hair. Also, in the clubs, it was very German and very male. There would normally be like one girl and eight guys. Techno in the early ’90s was very male dominated, which also had to do with the run down appeal of the city. It wasn’t that appealing to women I think. There weren’t that many women moving to East Berlin because they thought it was interesting—very different to today.
Do you remember when you first went to Tresor?
I was a philosophy student back then, in 1991, and I was heavily interested in music, but not that much into techno. My friends started being interested in techno and they took me to Tresor, and it was really like, “oh that’s something new.” It was like hour zero. The big “boom boom boom” was really wiping out the past. I thought, “OK, now we start again.” I think lots of people who were in Berlin at that time and went to Tresor—and clubs like Tresor—had similar experiences. They had a similar feeling that this was our hour zero. We can start from here; this is something new. It mirrored this new beginning the city was having at the time. We didn’t conceptualize it like that back then, of course. It was just an interesting new music. When you’re in the situation you don’t think that much about things like “What am I in the context of the city?” But looking back, it truly had a direct connection with the new start the city was taking.
Who were the people that were going out to these parties back then?
I think three groups constituted the techno scene in Berlin back then. You had the urban explorers: People like me that went to the East to squat houses and explore situations. Then you had the huge group of East Germans who simply wanted to celebrate freedom. And then you had the gay community. All of these three groups met in the clubs, and it’s still like that today. There are not that many urban explorers anymore. Let’s call them “the creative class” today. But every club has to rely on these three groups or it’s not going to work out.
Why do you think techno is so big in Berlin right now?
It’s a historical accident. It’s lots of historical accidents. The Wall falls down, and this small scene in West Germany takes over huge empty spaces in East Berlin, so they celebrate the freedom. That’s one big historical accident that nobody could have anticipated, but then lots of other things added to this situation: the cheap flights pop up in the late ’90s and early ’00s, the economic collapse Berlin had in the ’90s. There was huge speculation that Berlin was going to be this boom town—it never was, and all those investors lost lots of money.
If the investors had gotten their way, techno never would have been this big in the ’00s, and everywhere would be flourishing industry. But there is no flourishing industry in Berlin. There are just people getting wasted and dancing to techno music. All of these dreams of Berlin as an economic and financial capital never came to life, and the techno scene took advantage of it.
It seems like Berlin has an almost punk ethic to its nightlife.
If you take Studio 54, this big club in the ’70s New York, the most important character in this situation is the bouncer. He’s the one who lets you in or does not let you in. Most of the time he doesn’t let you in. It’s about fame, beauty, wealth, celebrity; all these elements are what brings you into this club, and it’s the bouncer who decides whether you get in or not. That’s one way of constructing a club situation.
The Berlin idea of a club situation was always different because there’s no celebrity culture—there’s no wealth. There’s sexiness, but it’s different than New York in the ’70s. It’s a situation where wealth, doesn’t get you into a club. When you want to get into a club, you have to look like you want to party hard. You have to be different. You cannot buy your way into a club in Berlin.
Unlike New York or London, there is no cultural code in this city that is being generated by money. The cultural code is “I was there, I know this”—a subcultural code. To me, this is really appealing because I see lots of wealthy people moving into my part of the city, and I see all the expensive cars and then I think, “Yeah, but you’re not getting it.” The bouncer is not letting you in. That doesn’t mean anything in the world where I construct meaning. Your car doesn’t mean shit. I think that’s a Berlin thing.
Pretty cool: an iPad app fully dedicated to the history and here-and-now of Berlin as electronic party paradise. Explore food joints with Modeselektor, urban architecture with Ben de Biel, day parties with Kotelett and Zadak, as well as hidden pieces of street art, the process of gentrification and hardware shopping.
Apparat, the Berlin electronic finetuner who gained prominence under the wings of Ellen Allien and her BPitch Control label, always incorporated a measure of stadium rock-like breadth in his music. The direction he’s taking now with his music further increases this cinematic (almost U2-like) feel.
I can’t say I’m completely infatuated with this change in style, as I liked Apparat’s previous lush minimal productions better. But, there’s still something in this new track ‘Black Water’ that I very much like – I think it’s the high-pitched synthesizers that come in near the middle. And of course there’s nothing wrong with a bit of grandiosity from time to time.
Finding Berlin has a great photo series of Berlin club entrances by daylight. You wouldn’t notice them when you passed them. Some of these I know, most of them not. They’re way more recognizable by night anyway.
You’re drunk and helpless, and the bright sunshine came a bit unexpected (it hurts). How long were you in there? Seven, eight hours without fresh air? The night is over, your mind is in the gutter. You look around: fuck, you were the last person to leave the club. You’re blinking, looking at the closed entrance doors. You look around again, trying to find a balance for your feet and for your mind. You don’t recognize this place anymore. Without the likeminded party kids, without the bottles on the pathway to the doors, without the faint sound of the bassline from inside those walls, without the night, this club has become something else.
Damn, it pains me to hear this. The counterculture is, of course, what made Berlin what it is: a cultural free haven full of creativity. It has been like that since before the fall of the Wall, and has continued to be so in the twenty-first century.
But the forces of gentrification and corporatization are on the march. Let’s turn Berlin into every other European city; let’s make it a sort of Paris. A neat, clean, tourist-friendly city, full of shopping malls. No more squatting, no more turning post-industrial areas into something cool and original, no more ventures into the underground.
Bar25‘s closed to make room for ’urban development’; now one the last communal housing projects, Liebig 14, that has been there since 1990. Sigh.
Around 2,500 police officers were deployed in Berlin today to evict inhabitants of one of the capital city’s last former squats.
The 25 residents of the Liebig 14 tenement block have refused to leave after losing a lengthy legal battle which has become a touchstone for the city’s anti-gentrification movement.
The local Green MP, Hans-Christian Ströbele, said alternative housing projects such as Liebig 14 were one of Berlin’s trademarks and should be protected rather than destroyed.
More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the building in the former east Berlin district of Friedrichshain. They waved banners, banged wooden spoons on saucepans and shouted at officers from the German Special Forces who had managed to climb onto the roof during the night. On the street, police in full riot gear blocked all access routes.
By 11.45am local time (10.45 GMT) 23 protesters had been arrested, but police had not managed to gain full access.
Demonstrations and publicity stunts are planned across Berlin throughout the day. Already, protesters claim to have paintballed the famous department store KaDeWe, Berlin’s answer to Harrod’s, along with the town hall in the district of Schöneberg, where John F Kennedy gave his”Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963.
The building, which has 25 bedrooms, four kitchens and five bathrooms, was first squatted in 1990, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. After Berlin’s housing board took ownership of the house in 1992, the squatters signed a lease making them the legal residents.
After it was sold to private developers, the lease was passed on to the current occupiers, who range from 19 to 40 years old and hail from around the world. One British resident, a 24-year-old PhD student, gave her name as Sarah.
“People with not much money are being forced out of Berlin city centre. This is not just about 25 people losing their home, it’s a protest against the gentrification of the city and ordinary people all over being priced out of their local housing market.”
The district mayor, Franz Schulz, criticised the eviction. “It is not a good day. We’re losing an important alternative project,” he told Inforadio.
Berlin police said 2,500 officers were engaged in the operation, “but not all are stationed here; they are spread out all over the city to deal with the planned demonstrations”.
Thomas Fehlmann is a Swiss composer and producer of electronic music, born in 1957. His career has been stellar: after joining the German avant garde band Palais Schaumburg, he moved to Berlin in 1984, where he built a home studio to focus on electronic music. Four years later he founded the label “Teutonic Beats”, to which among others the pioneering German techno dj Westbam belonged. In 1990 he started working with the epochal British ambient techno group The Orb (he is credited for such tracks als “Little Fluffy Clouds” and “Blue Room“), as well as playing in the infamous Berlin Tresor club. For Tresor Records he worked among others with the first wave of Detroit techno dj’s, such as Juan Atkins and Blake Baxter.
Fehlmann has a string of albums of his own, moreover, such as Visions of Blah (2002), Lowflow(2004), Honigpumpe(2007) and Gute Luft(2010), all on the Cologne-based German minimal techno Kompakt label. The latter two albums are full of delightful minimal techno music, filled with little sounds and musical textures, like it seems only Germans (or in this case, the Swiss) can create.
So just now, he released the brilliant minimal track “DFM”, which can be listened to over here. As Pitchfork has it:
“DFM” is a reworking of “Du Fehlst Mir”, which was a cut from Fehlmann’s 2002 release, Visions of Blah, and bears all the hallmarks of his classical counterparts, as scrapes of discordant violin and twinkly vibraphone ripple across his gently burbling surface drones. It’s around the 3:40 mark of the nine-minute-plus track that the ideas really coalesce into something magical, as a burst of percussion lifts the song beyond its ambient origins and sends it twirling into airy wonderment. Impressively, there’s a lightness of touch at work here despite the classical riches at Fehlmann’s fingertips, and the song never feels cluttered despite the dovetailing strings and loops in its final third, which reaches a heart-crushing crescendo via a delicately worked violin coda somewhat reminiscent of Sean O’Hagan’s arrangements for Stereolab.
Listen to it. Ideal for chilling in the grass in the sun.
The Sunday Chill Track is back after the holiday break. Today’s track is from Ulrich Schnauss, a producer of ambient and electronic pop music from Berlin. His primary influences are “shoegaze”, Cocteau Twins and Tangerine Dream. The track is from the critically acclaimedA Strangely Isolated Place album (2003). Listen to this and you will not be needing your Monday paracetamol:
Click here for another great, more up-tempo track from Ulrich Schnauss.