BERLIN 1992 TRESOR COMPILATION: DER KLANG DER FAMILIE
THE HOUSE OF TECHNO: FRANKFURT TRAX VOLUME 2
Melody Maker, autumn 1992
by Simon Reynolds
Tresor is a famous Berlin club located in a vault that was once the safe of a department store. Maybe because the temperatures inside this strobe-blitzed sauna reach tropical levels, the techno made by DJ's and groups associated with the club (and gathered on Der Klang Der Familie) is sweat-less and cold-as-ice.
The Berlin sound as represented here has a similar clinical-but-crazed vibe to the stuff coming out of Detroit on the Plus 8 label, like F.U.S.E.'s "F.U.": basslines that pulsate in sinister wave-forms like radioactive ore, rigorous programmed beats, synth-twitches that instil a strange ectastic dread. Unlike UK hardcore's epileptic basslines and sped-up vocals exploding like fireworks, this music doesn't speed-rush forwards in blind propulsion; the repetition seems to take you deeper and deeper towards something primal and not a little threatening.
Voodoo possession is the model here, rather than the hyper-hyper exhiliration-whizz of breakbeat house. "Drugs Work" by System 01 is like venturing into a cyberdelic jungle, parting wave after wave of foliage towards some secret, pagan grove. Maurizio's "Ploy" is a cloud of oscillations and wave-forms that's almost beyond dance.
Voov's "It's Anything You Want It To be And It's A Gas" assembles programmed rhythms and grids of sequencer pulses into a percussive lattice of near-symphonic complexity. Mind Gear's "Don't Panic" is simply symphonic, rivalling the poignant grandeur of Orbital's "Belfast". A brilliant compilation.
Planet Core Productions's Frankfurt Trax offers more German vanguard techno. Abbreviate the label's name to PCP and you get a good idea of the vibe of the Frankfurt sound: mad-as-hell, mental-as-fuck, apoplectic/apocalyptic frenzy, all stomping 4/4 beats and gut-busting bass-blasts.
Mescalinum United's "We Have Arrived" is a storm-trooper stampede with a smeared, blaring riff that'll rip your entrails out. With its infernal bass and down-swooping drones, "Nightflight (nonstop to kaos)" by The Mover presents Frontal Sickness is like a cybernetic version of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man".
But it's not all mayhem. Six Mullahs' "Persian Lover" is an Islam-otronic mood piece. Project AE's "Whales Alive" is an extraordinary, undulating soundscape: stereo-panning slow beats, brief arias of whale song, tidal synths, a terra-technic bass that glows like the Earth's core. Imagine "Once In A Lifetime" if Talking Heads had been ripping off Kraftwerk rather than Can.
Another brilliant compilation.