In listening to Marcel Dettmann's 12-inch work on both Ostgut and his own MDR imprint, it's hard to hear his potential as an album artist. Varied isn't an adjective that comes to mind; Dettmann embodies the Berghain's toughest stereotypes. There are no house excursions ala Ben Klock or Len Faki rave sirens in a Dettmann set. As Ben Klock put it in a recent interview with RA, his is "a music without compromise." In a club praised for its devotion to minimalism, Dettmann is its most supplicant DJ and producer.
Dettmann, the Berlin resident's debut album, does little to dispel that idea. What's surprising about its contents, though, is how diverse it gets. Dettmann makes nods to atmospherically-inclined dubstep ("Home"), echoes of IDM ("Argon") and expansive headfuck techno ("Motive"), yet always keeps a resolutely 4/4 pulse. It's techno, but it's always laced with something else. Headphones aren't essential to enjoying Dettmann, but they help: There's a snap, crackle or pop worth investigating in each track. As Dettmann told Ibiza Voice, "It was my conscious intension [sic] to create tracks which give the listener a projection screen and leaves much open to interpretation."
Dettmann isn't great. It's very good; the sound of a producer making his first forays into a music that isn't 100% geared for the dance floor. Shedding the Past sounds good on headphones, speakers and just about anywhere else. You need to delve deeply to recognize everything that Dettmann does. Sometimes you'll get lost in it; other times you'll have no trouble ignoring it. Unlike most labels these days, though, you get the sense that Ostgut Ton will leave Dettmann the room to explore minimalism again in this format. By then, Dettmann will have hopefully bridged the gap between home and club listening, leading to his own Shedding the Past.