Dreamy Harbour isn't what you might expect of an anniversary compilation. It's not a victory lap through the label's 25-year back catalogue, nor is it a taster of what that strobe-lit Berlin basement might sound like in years to come. (Only a handful of contributors, like Marcelus and Claudia Anderson, are likely to shape that sound.) Instead, inspired by the "psychedelic music" of founder Dimitri Hegemann's youth, it explores zones beyond—or perhaps within—techno. In the process, it captures something about the label that a more straightforward retrospective might have missed.
The Mønic track in question is a sinister, minimalist headtrip—think Sleeparchive's "Elephant Island" with a gothic twist. The rest of the compilation is equally hypnotic, favouring synthetic soundworlds and sustained, technoid repetition. The mood varies, from dark (Shao's "Sensi," which you can imagine flooding Tresor's grandiose sibling venue, Kraftwerk) to blissful (Vainqueur's sun-dappled opener "Solanus - Extracted 2"). But the goal remains the same: to induce a trancelike, disembodied state that is the inverse of that found on a techno dance floor.
Vainqueur has his place in Berlin techno history—"Solanus" is an alternate take of a 1996 Chain Reaction release—and he's not the only legend in the building. Former Tresor resident Thomas Fehlmann delivers the house slow-burner "Silverness." The club's storied Detroit connection is highlighted via Terrence Dixon, whose filter-heavy "The Switch" is the record's strangest and best track, and Daughter Produkt, a project involving Gerald Donald of Drexciya fame. The two cities are brought together on a cut from Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald's Borderland, which unfortunately sounds as dry now as it did on its 2013 release.
The compilation doesn't use these heavy-hitters for impact—quite the opposite. Dreamy Harbour has been programmed so that its artists are secondary to the overall mood, in which time is warped in odd directions and chronology takes a backseat. It's surely no coincidence that there's a track here called "Timeless"—from Fourth World explorer Jon Hassell, no less. TV Victor's "La Beff" was first released in 1996, but you wouldn't know it. If anything the sequencing is a bit too slick: there's no standout track, no mindblowing moment disrupting the seamless one-hour-and-40-minute flow. But Tresor has plenty of mindblowing moments in its catalogue already, and Dreamy Harbour is trying to do something different.
Fri / 27 Jan 2017
01. Vainqueur - Solanus - Extracted 2
02. Shao - Sensi (edit)
03. Terrence Dixon - The Switch (edit)
04. Juan Atkins & Moritz von Oswald - Electric Dub (edit)
05. Mønic - What Lies Behind Us
06. TV Victor - La Beff (reissue)
07. Thomas Fehlmann - Silverness
08. Donato Dozzy - The Night Rider
09. Claudia Anderson - Phase
10. Jon Hassell - Timeless
11. Marcelus - Odawah Jam
12. Daughter Produkt - Direction Asymmetry