Ancient Methods makes some of the meanest techno around, despite barely going much faster than 120 BPM. Once a duo with Conrad Protzmann but now the solo project of Michael Wollenhaupt, the Berlin-based act is among the most distinctive in techno, thanks mostly to the sheer power and colossal sense of scale of the records. The Ancient Methods sound is one of snarling grooves, apocalyptic atmospheres and tasteful hints of industrial and EBM—a now-trendy fusion that Wollenhaupt and Protzmann were championing a decade ago. Beginning with a string of EPs released on marbled vinyl between 2007 and 2010, Ancient Methods garnered a diehard fan base that buys up every copy of each new record.
As a DJ, Wollenhaupt pushes a similar sound. The tempos are higher, but the ferocious grooves and rich sound design remain. A one-time resident of Tresor, Wollenhaupt channels that aesthetic on this week's RA podcast. Alongside many of his own productions, he mixes modern techno and EBM with the same blistering energy he brings to the club, traversing styles and moods with the expert flow he's honed over decades behind the decks. It's a rough ride—strap yourself in and prepare to sweat.
What have you been up to recently?
I'm trying to slow down an exceptionally busy year. I finished my first album and worked out a quite elaborate live show, the latter with the help of my partner Wahiba. I also did quite a few remixes, prepared the next releases on my label Persephonic Sirens, some Room 506 DJ edits got released on aufnahme + wiedergabe while me and Wahiba regularly kept up the radio show on Berlin Community Radio. And last but not least, I worked on a pretty comprehensive project with Dominick Fernow that will be revealed soon.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It was prepared and mixed at home with Ableton and a controller.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
It's quite a typical Ancient Methods DJ mix, I'd say. The preparation is usually a blend of selecting recent tracks or classics that I played in my recent sets and which have been for different reasons essential in certain moments of those sets. Furthermore the preparation includes the creation of the typical medleys and edits I throw into every mix.
You've been releasing music for more than ten years, but only just released your first album. Why was this the right time for that?
I just didn't manage to finish it earlier. That's basically the sole reason for the moment of the release.
Your music work well at parties, but it's very different from most functional techno. How do you approach the balance between experimentation and the needs of the dance floor?
I actually do not approach it conceptually as a balance. It's first and foremost a specific idea in my head I need to realise, a bit like a compulsion to comply. I could divide the process of creation into two patches, if you will. The easy part is the need for the dance floor, since for most of the tracks I write there is pretty compulsive need to make them "dancey," and to give them a physical, rhythmic corset. The more "musical" content can be more challenging at times. There were a few approaches where I wanted to produce something more minimalistic but I ended up again with a lot of adornments and hours of editing. You could call it either lack of discipline or channeling the cultural overstimulation. However, first and foremost it is a specific idea I need to bring to life when I do music.
What are you up to next?
There are a few more live shows this year, before we maybe revisit the live show and turn it into a A/V performance. And there are some DJ gigs of course. I have still a few more remixes to finish, some really exciting stuff from artists I have admired for a long time. At the end of October I will release one of my all-time favourite tracks from Edinburgh's Young Hunting on vinyl for the first time. I hope there will be some more time for collaborative works again and maybe some side projects. And I'm trying to slow down the workload a bit.