Marcel Dettmann is an artist who has been a core influencer in contemporary techno, with the backbone of this being his residency at Berghain since 1999. He said in an interview with Moog earlier this year :
“Without Berghain I maybe would not do the things I do today.”
And that’s because his journey as a DJ and a producer are very much intertwined. Learning things in the club and taking them to the studio, just listening to one of his tracks, can instantly bring back hazy flashbacks of a club environment. That said his sound represents Berlin on a much wider level too, having worked at Hard Wax for over ten years, he’s been connected to Berlin’s electronic music core on as many levels as possible. Whether he’s inspiring others in the club, or giving tips on a few hot releases, Dettmann has been creating a path for people to follow. It’s clear to see than his influence has become somewhat of a legacy, with his name being immediately associated with one of the most respected and lovers of the local scene. He’s one of the core reasons for the pilgrimage of the seminal Berghain experience.
Describing his typical day, Dettmann said:
“There is no typical day! It mostly depends on my mood and I’m not the guy sitting in the studio all day. But when I do, I like to get up early in the morning, having a coffee and a cigarette and then getting started. Most of the studio time I’m trying out new machines, getting inspired by new possibilities, brainstorming, experiencing and stuff.”
It was bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure and Front 242, as well as post-punk and industrial, were his first love before he discovered his affinity for techno. With his hometown lacking a record store specialising in electronic music, so between 1995 and 1998 Dettmann began selling vinyl from his own home. He purchased records from various distributers, Hard Wax amongst others, both to resell to his friends and to cement the foundation for his own considerable collection. Before long, and coinciding around the same time his residency for Ostgut started he was working fulltime at Hardwax, having moved to Berlin.
Dettmann quests tirelessly for new ways and inspiration to further develop his own concept of electronic music. His label MDR (Marcel Dettmann Records) serves as a platform upon which to shape his musical vision, and through its releases, to launch new talent onto the techno scene. As a curator and producer, Dettmann fosters the call to create in a way which is equally timeless and innovative. His own releases comprise two albums on Ostgut Ton, numerous singles and remixes for artists of various genres – Junior Boys, Fever Ray, Moderat, Commix, Clark and Laibach to name a few. Furthermore, he has produced compilation albums for the Belgian techno label Music Man, London’s Fabric club, and Berlin’s Berghain.
Levon Vincent’s latest release on the imprint is pressed on hot pink vinyl and features a collaboration with Marcel Dettmann. Those facts alone make NS-10 T. Rex Edition an eye-catching addition to the Novel Sound catalogue, but the buoyant chords on “Vengeance” represent something equally remarkable. The track doesn’t sound typical of either artist. Aspects of “Vengeance” have Vincent’s touches—his stomping drums and echo-bathed synths are there—but it’s unusually playful and light-footed, qualities Dettmann himself rarely exhibits.
The B-side is great by most standards, but the superior “Fear” demonstrates just how high Vincent’s are. It first appeared on his excellent fabric 63 mix, and its swaying ambient tones sum up the CD’s disorienting character. So much of “Fear” feels weightless in spite of an ever-present pneumatic thump: snares thin out into vapour, metallic chords bend and turn to ash. About six minutes in, a gravel-throated synth line shoots through that vast alien space, giving it some kind of anchor even as it’s about to break apart. The scale Vincent crafts “Fear” with is impressive—at its peak, it’s an endless, panoramic vista—but strangely enough, the track’s fragility is its greatest strength.