But sometimes Klock's reputation as a stonefaced techno specialist obscures an important part of his sensibility. Though his music is often described in terms like "relentless" or "violent," anyone who's simmered through one of his marathon sets knows that's only one side of his palette: The other is all sexy, outrageous, carefree house that makes it hard not to crack a smile. On a recent sunny afternoon in Berlin, RA's Will Lynch sat with Klock in his breezy flat to hear some of the records that best define his unique style.
Irdial Discs, 1992
I think this one is from the early '90s, obviously recorded on a bad tape. It works on so many different levels, it has this atmosphere that it creates, then it has these crazy, wrestling drum machines, almost getting out of rhythm sometimes. It's like three drum machines playing against each other, but still it has this nice kind of housey groove, especially with the bassline. I love the atmosphere created by this whistling sound, kind of mystical.
It's not an obvious hit, but it's great after a long night at Berghain, in the morning hours when people get into this hypnotic mood. I like this kind of sound quality too, kind of grainy. I think a lot of music right now is so polished, everything's so well arranged, the mastering is so clear and crisp, everything pushed to the front and very loud. This is the opposite of what I like. I like this raw arrangement, the beat just goes away and suddenly drops in again. More like a recording session than a real arrangement.
Ostgut Ton, 2010
This is a really nice track. I think it's one of the most outstanding tracks from his new album. Just really a statement, very stripped down.
For me this is somewhere between his usual stuff and something like Autechre.
Yeah, exactly. I like how it almost gets out of the rhythm, then gets back in again. I'm always impressed by him... It's music without compromise. We both inspire each other a lot, when we play tracks for each other. I like that he really keeps the loop playing for six or seven minutes.
For me, this is really the idea of minimalism. To find something that you can really listen to for hours. When you produce, if after two minutes you need to add something to make it exciting again, then maybe the groove or the loop is just not good enough. To work on it until you really find something you're happy with, that you can listen to for ten minutes without it getting boring, that's really the idea, the art behind it.
That's also what's great about Maurizio: Ten minutes, almost no changes, but you just want to keep on listening to it. I recently found the Maurizio records on Discogs, and someone had wrote, "Thank God, I got it for just two pounds, because it's such a boring record! There's nothing happening on it." I'm like, "Yeah, maybe you just didn't get the idea." There are not many elements, but the loop is so strange, that when you finally understand it, the song is over.
Do you think Marcel is more fixated on that idea of true minimalism than you are?
Maybe. I come a bit more from the musician side, I've made music all my life, playing piano when I was a child. He didn't, so maybe that's a difference between us. He's not so much into melodies, chords and stuff, even if he liked to play that, he couldn't, so maybe that's a difference. For me, I always try to reduce my musician side, because I don't like solos or anything in techno [laughs].
Dance Mania, 1995
One of the first house or techno records I ever bought, and it really never left my bag. I always have it with me. I think it's my third copy, and it's already crackling quite a bit. It has everything a track needs: Very simple, but so groovy and sexy. It's kind of a typical Dance Mania record actually. I think there's probably no other DJ that's played this tune as often as me. I never get tired of it, that's why I had to put it on my mix CD. I just love these stupid claps [imitates claps]. It doesn't say everything, it leaves you your space. Fascinating that it's so simple, just like, bass drum, bassline, some toms, some hi-hats, and those stupid claps. And of course the vocal is really sexy.
Just one of the ultimate dub techno tracks. I really love to play around with this, to mix it in and out with other records, it always works so well with new stuff. It's just absolutely timeless, you can't say if it's old or new. I really love this combination of dub and techno, like this old um... what's this producer... King Tubby!
There was a time when I listened to that stuff in the summer, it's great to listen to this old dub reggae stuff. To have this heavy, groovy, hot summer feeling together with techno, it's a perfect match. It doesn't feel like, "ooh, let's smoke a joint," it still has this energy... going forward. Always forward. It's like a ceremony, or a caravan or something. Elephant boogie. And the way it gets really down in the middle part... this is minimal. Maximum effect.
"Destination Unknown" / "I Want To Leave My Body"
Music Man / Relief, 1997 / 1995
It's really hard for me to pick just one Green Velvet track. He was one of the first big figures in techno that I thought was making more than just techno, making something that lasts longer. I think he has a very unique style, although it's very Chicago. Just crazy, sexy, body music and very intense in a way. "Destination Unknown" has been a big track in Berghain for years and years. It just gets crazier and crazier as it goes on.
But "Leave My Body" is maybe, at the moment, my favorite Green Velvet track. He's an artist that never leaves my bag. You can play him at Tresor and Berghain, and you can play him at Cookies as well. I think the stuff he did between 1994 and 2001 or so was great. I still like "La La Land," but after that it got a bit poppy. The early stuff was more dark.
DVS1 features on your new mix CD, and you've also released an EP of his on your own label. He's based in Minnesota, right? How did you meet him?
I was in the United States last year, and I played a gig in Minneapolis. After I played in Minneapolis, we went to another club where he played a live set that was really short. 20 or 25 minutes. People told me that it was his second live set ever. But I was really impressed by it, this real techno. He played with lots of energy. So I started asking about him, and the people said that he was a DJ, that he organized parties locally, that he was important for the local scene there.
I never thought that I was going to open up Klockworks to other producers. I always thought it was going to have to be something really special, someone new. I get a lot of demos from people who already have a name, and sometimes they're really nice tracks. But I just don't think it quite fits to the concept. This, though, was a perfect match.
There seems to be an interesting scene in Minneapolis. You wouldn't necessarily expect there to be a lot of parties there with international DJs, but they bring in people such as yourself and Marcel.
Yes. I played a really tiny party there. It's a small scene, but everybody was really into it. I had a lot of fun there. I really loved meeting DVS1 too. I'm looking forward to putting out more of his stuff on Klockworks, and he'll be playing my mix CD release party at Berghain later this year. He doesn't have a lot of shows yet, but it will grow.
"Music For 18 Musicians"
Earlier you mentioned the idea of minimalism. Obviously this piece is one of the pioneering pieces of the classical end of this genre. Do you think it informs the music that you make? Or is it something that influences you?
When I first listened to this, it opened up my view to minimalism and techno more. It made it clear what the idea behind it is. The repetition, and the phasing. This loopy feeling. I read this interview with Steve Reich. He didn't seem like an easy guy. He seemed to hate DJs and electronic music, he didn't seem to want to be a role model for them because he is very much not into it.
I'm really drawn to this idea of sticking to an idea for a long time. And, of course, on the other hand, it's just beautiful music. It's very theoretical, but it's also just nice to listen to. There was a time when I said that if I had to take ten tracks to a desert island that this would definitely be one of them.
People think that Berghain and Ostgut is just dark, banging techno, but it never was. That's what's great about the Berghain floor, you can mix into all these different styles, you can go deeper, or more housey, whatever you want.
I feel like people that only know Berghain by reputation wouldn't guess that you'd hear this song there.
Really? To me, this is so Berghain. Maybe because I have always played it. I think someone who knows my sets really well would know this track. It's not something I always play, but every now and then, when I really get into the mood, this is always a highlight of mine. I was asked today for this song, someone found a YouTube video of me playing this in Helsinki, people went really crazy... every second week I get asked for this track. I would never play this if I had the feeling that something wasn't working the way I wanted. It's not a sure shot.
When I play this, I'm so into the mood that I'm not thinking anymore about what to play next. It's another one of these old tracks that, I don't know how many years I've had it and I still play it again and again and again. It just grabs you... I love how this Chicago stuff just doesn't give a fuck, it's so not serious, just really sexy ass music. Some of these songs I don't have a fresh ear for anymore, they're just all-time favorites. I don't know if I would like this song if I heard it now for the first time... maybe not. But maybe yes.