Berghain resident Norman Nodge, an integral part of the Berghain crew, has put together the sixth installment in the legendary club’s mix series. Bert Random’s in the reviewers chair for this one.
For nearly a decade now the name Berghain has been whispered with reverence among the global techno massive. This huge club, held in an old power-plant building on what was once the border between east and west Berlin, opened in 2003 and since then it has earned an enviable reputation for stripped down partying, with a punishing soundsystem, a fierce door policy, and a never-ending roster of serious DJs from across the world playing extended sets at parties that go on for days. As with all venues that become legendary (a long-line that stretches back to Studio 54, and on through the Music Institute, the Hacienda, Tresor, and FFWD>>) a mythic shorthand has developed to represent the club; for Berghain this includes darkness, hedonism, cavernous spaces, deep techno, and a crowd that isnât obsessed with necking shit lager, staring at a superstar DJ or filming their entire night out â they are a crowd that are there to *dance*.
Norman Nodge â lawyer by day, long-time resident DJ at Berghain by night â has tried to capture all this in a single hour-long performance, the sixth mix CD from Berghainâs OstGut label. He opens with wide-open ambience from beatless Birds Two Cage, then builds through a series of slow but hypnotic rhythm tracks into the gently enticing techno of âFrom Foreign Territoriesâ by Patrick Graser.
It circles here for a few tunes, never quite breaking out, always layering and squelching but never really booming through. The sharp percussion of Jeff Millsâ âKeeping of the Keptâ cuts in and signals a gear change into a brand of purist techno that is denser and more focused, with the percussive single-mindedness of tunes like âTone Exploitationâ by The Nighttrippers drawing you in to their long dark tunnels.
Restrained synths echo and develop, signalling to distant minds and echoing back off of bare brick walls. Itâs a perfect sound for a big system in a big old room, though there are times when I have a brief desire for something a bit less controlled, a bit more raucous. Every now and then you can feel that rush of being on the floor, lost in the crowd, letting the music wash through you, but, mirroring the progress of a full night out, Nodge changes the mood again after a few tunes with the set becoming sparser as if the next day is arriving, reminding listeners and dancers that the real world still exists outside those walls. The sparse, excellent, electro-breaks from Radioactive Mans âNastyradioâ captures the fuzzy brutality of a new dawn before the DJ waves goodbye to us to the sounds of âRainy Day Juno Jamâ by Xosar.
If anything this desire to compress what could be days of dancing into a single CD is its downfall â by representing so many different shades of Berghain Nodge isnât able to leave us in any one zone for long enough to truly sink into its mesmerising glory. But despite this itâs a mix that has grown on me, that Iâve found myself going back to, a mix for late nights and early mornings, and definitely a mix for lovers of Detroit techno and Deutsch decadence.
All words Bert Random. Bert is the author of “Spannered”, an illustrated novel about free-parties, freaks, and friendship. For more info & to grab a copy go here. More reviews by Bert can be found on Louder Than War here.