Marcel Dettmann: Berghain 02
Ostgut Ton

VA: Cocoon Compilation H

Berlin DJ (and Hard Wax employee) Marcel Dettmann brings his pure, “reduced” techno style to the second installment in the Berghain series. His mix spends the first ten of its seventy-two minutes obsessively working a bass-heavy pulse—a move that might discourage listeners hungry for a bit more melody to go along with rhythm—but those who stick with Berghain 02 will find themselves rewarded. After the pounding jack in question burns through “Balance” and “Native Rhythm Electric” by tobias. and Norman Nod, a little dropout occurs halfway through the third track, Pied Plat's “Double Trouble,” and it's at this moment and in the stoked grooves that follow that the mix really kicks into gear. Substance's remix of Tadeo's “Reflection Nebula 056n” scorches the mix with stabbing synths and crisp hi-hat patterns, after which Risqué Rhythm Team's “The Jacking Zone” and Kevin Saunderson's “Just Want Another Chance” bring dark and funky Chicago- and Detroit-styled energy to the proceedings. Cuts by Clatterbox, Shed, and T++ also make their presence felt (the pounding throb, immersive churn, and jacking pitter-patter of “Press On,” “Warped Mind,” and “Mo #1,” respectively) before Strand 's 1996 classic “Zephyr” performs the round-up.

Prepared by Cocoon head Sven Väth and label manager Pauli Steinbach, Cocoon's eighth installment in its annual lettered series arrives as an unmixed, eighty-minute CD of twelve cuts or as a box set of six coloured vinyl discs. What makes the series different from other comps is that Väth and Steinbach invite pre-selected musicians to contribute to the collection rather than pull together bits and pieces of already-submitted material. The banging cuts collected by the duo are high-energy stormers that their creators have clearly crafted with care but not many of them stand out as especially memorable—they're serviceable, in other words. Tolga Fidan's “Us and Them,” which layers mysterious Eastern melodies over a percolating percussive bed, is actually the first to distinguish itself melodically yet it arrives two-thirds of the way into the recording. Chromophobia creator Gui Boratto rises to the occasion by first sprinkling ghostly fragments over a straightforward Cologne groove in “Golden Axe,” and then winding the track up to a synth-drenched breakdown before picking up the pieces and carrying on. A smattering of other pieces deserves mention too: using a gravelly voice-over and sub-bass crawl, Len Faki stokes a lethal vibe in “Death by House” especially when the viral house rhythm roars in, while Joris Voorn weighs in with the sexy house swing of “Deep Side of the Moog.” Cassy Britton opens the set nicely with the slinky house banger “A Plea for Me,” whose rubbery pulse is overlaid by the hypnotic mantra “Don't you let me go,” and Mark August serves up softly driving rhythms and restrained atmosphere in “3 of a Kind.” Like Berghain 02, H is ultimately more about groove than melody though H's palette is admittedly more colourful when compared to Dettmann's seeming preference for achromatic tonality.

August 2008