Marcel Dettmann: Dettmann
Ostgut Ton

Using his surname for the title of his debut album gives Marcel Dettmann's full-length the feel of a manifesto, a definitive statement of personal intent. Seen that way, the Dettmann style is skeletal, groove-focused, melodically lean, and as precision-tooled as an ultra-pricey Mercedes-Benz. A techno devotee since his teens and a creator of his own tracks since 2006, Dettmann brings a wide range of experience to the project: he's enjoyed a DJ residency at Berghain and worked at Berlin's record shop Hard Wax.

Following a beatless overture of rather aquatic character (“Quasi (Intro)”), the album proper begins with “Argon,” a bass- and percussion-heavy workout that breathes Cobra-like fire. By mid-album, the material's in full, bass-prodded swing, as tracks like “Reticle,” “Irritant,” and “Silex” testify when their indomitably thudding pulses roll out. Dettmann plunges deepest into the techno inferno with the penultimate track, “Viscous,” whose jacking throb pounds even more forcefully, brutally, and mercilessly than its predecessors. The producer is nothing if not artful, as shown by his mirroring the album's opening track with a similarly styled exeunt, “Taris (Outro).”

Dettmann's music is uncompromising; at no time does he make concessions to the listener hungry for conventional melody or the kind of warmth and funkiness one associates with deep house. While stylistically there are obvious differences, Dettmann's tracks are spiritually kin to early Basic Channel material in that both are so cool, cerebral, and austere, they feel like music made by machines for machines (those worlds converge during “Drawing” when reverb-drenched tones echo over a grainy rhythm base). His use of one-word track titles is in perfect keeping with that aesthetic—even they're bereft of surperfluous ornamentation. Dettmann is techno in its pure and raw form, 21st-century machine-music stripped to its tribal bones.

June 2010