With techno luminary Ben Klock at the helm, it's safe to say Berghain 04 is one of Ostgut Ton's most important compilations yet. During the club's meteoric rise over the past eight years, Klock has played an essential role in defining what's now considered the Berghain sound: Dark, throbbing techno that's both subtle and aggressive. But his DJ style is also very much his own, and his extended Sunday afternoon sets remain one of the club's strongest attractions. And while Berghain 04 doesn't exactly simulate his club sound, it does sample his exceptional taste and technique—like a "business card," as Marcel Dettmann described his own edition in the series.
The mix shows Klock covering a lot of ground without straying too far from a techno framework—a skill that characterizes his club sets as well. Take the first three tracks: "Apricot" by 154, "Pressure" by DVS1 and Dettmann's remix of "Working" by Junior Boys. Each track offers something very different: emotional ambience, anxious techno and breathy pop vocals. Architecturally, though, all three songs are compatible—each slots neatly into the one before it. The same goes for Tyree's "Nuthin' Wrong," a longtime Klock favorite that appears near the end of the mix. At face value, it's something of a curveball: Early '90s house with goofy vocals, slipped between two lean and dubby techno tracks. But thanks to its rigid beat and determined bassline, the juxtaposition works perfectly.
Klock's finesse behind the decks can also be seen in the subtle give-and-take that occurs from track to track. Selections by Martyn, STL and Levon Vincent create a nervous vibe early on, but their clunky rhythms keep things boiling carefully. On Jonas Kopp's "Michigan Lake," the mix breaks into a run with a swifter, more linear driving rhythm, but the menacing overtone subsides. Klock briefly brings these two elements together on Mikhail Breen's "Veracity," which has both a pounding beat and a haunting melody, but then he inches back with DVS1's "Confused," which kicks equally hard yet is far breezier. This lets off a bit of steam, and also nicely foreshadows "Compression Session 1," a soaring, euphoric cut that shows off Klock's own production skill.
After all the talk about Dettmann and Klock as keepers of the Berghain sound, some listeners might find Berghain 04 anti-climactic. This isn't completely unfair; the mix distinctly lacks any individually explosive moments. This is in part due to format—the overwhelming, avalanche quality of Klock's peaks at Berghain simply don't translate to a home listening experience. But it's also a reflection of his DJ ethic, which is all about hypnotic grooves and gradual builds. The subtle progression is what makes the pay-off so rewarding. This style of DJing rarely gets documented well in mix CDs; Berghain 04 does so elegantly.
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Tracklist: Ben Klock - Berghain 04 01. 154 - Apricot
02. DVS1 - Pressure
03. Junior Boys - Work (Marcel Dettmann Remix)
04. Martyn - Miniluv
05. STL - Loop 04
06. Levon Vincent - The Long Life
07. Jonas Kopp - Michigan Lake
08. ACT - RoHd
09. Mikhail Breen - Veracity
10. DVS1 - Confused
11. Rolando - De Cago
12. Kevin Gorman - 7am Stepper
13. Ben Klock - Compression Session 1
14. Roman Lindau - Keppra
15. Tyree - Nuthin Wrong
16. The Echologist - Dirt (Ben Klock Edit)
17. James Ruskin - Graphic
18. Ben Klock feat. Elif Bicer - Elfin Flight
19. Rolando - Junie
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