If you are in any way interested in dance music you will know of the industrial fame of Berghain. The club opened in 2004 in what was formerly an abandoned power plant. The name is a concoction of the last part of its neighbourhood name, Friedrichshain, and it’s twin on the opposite side of where the wall once stood, Kreuzberg.
Berghain actually began as a gay sex party called Snax. This was the idea of Michael Teatele and Norbert Thormann who, in 1999, opened Osgut, a club situated in an old train repair depot. A techno appeal was installed and two years later Panorama Bar was born, a space which acted as a retreat upstairs where house and a brand of techno that was easier on the ears was dished out.
Ostgut closed in 2003 and year later Berghain, a shrine to techno, was born. Within the frightening beauty of its massive structure lies a dystopian utopia. The sex is also notorious. Dark rooms are filled with gay and straight people touching each other. If you can find a decent review amongst the over exaggerated bullshit you’ll actually notice that, according to the veterans, the sexual nature of Berghain has been slightly tamed.
A review in The New Yorker explains that the arrival of tourists is the reason for this. “The black-leather homosexuals are gone”, states a frequent visitor.
Berghain has welcomed the likes of Bicep, Marcel Dettmann, The Black Madonna, Jackmaster, Ellen Allien, Heidi and Ben Klock to compose. “It’s like making love with your ears”, explains HALLION. Last year Berlin was awarded the title of high culture, not only thanks to its techno exploits, but for becoming the backdrop to ballet exhibitions, classical events, fashion shows and art installations. The club itself could even be considered as a project; a kind of forgotten experiment that has been abandoned and left to breed.
There is a brand of techno that is traditional to that of the city, and it can always be found here, though other forms do exist and are beginning to thrive. East Berlin originally maintained a harder sound that abandoned the use of vocals, and this is a sound that South London Analogue Material affiliate Ossian can relate with.
Originally from London, but now residing in Berlin, Ossain maintains a harder sound than that of traditional Berlin, just check his work alongside Ansome. “I don’t really like what people would call ‘Berlin’ techno. The harder more distorted sound is slowly getting bigger here I hope but time will tell.”
It certainly is. Killekill is a Berlin based label that have been massively influential in the heavier techno community. They have released work from the likes of Max Cooper, Bas Mooy, Alan Fitzpatrick and Sunil Sharpe, focusing on distinctive artwork and experimental live performances that push the boundaries of what techno can do. Here, they merge the old with the new to create something entirely their own. Belfast outfit DSNT are heading out to Berlin as part of Killekill: Summercamp, bringing Myler, Fran Hartnett, Dublin’s Techno & Cans, Nez & Dallas and HALLION with them, which should give you an idea of just how energetic that party will be.
Rodhad has emerged from a dark East Berlin, channelling inspiration from the post industrial era, an inspiration that can be distinguished through the journey enabling music he puts out on his Dystopian label. Tale of Us have also relocated from Milan to Berlin, bringing with them their hypnotic, often melodic interpretation of techno. Recondite is yet another melodically inspired artist that has re-located to the city, distributing haunting and emotionally stirring compositions.
It isn’t just techno artists either. South Korean DJ/producer Peggy Gou has joined Berlin’s creative community, representing a completely alternative sound to anything regarded as techno. A nostalgic groove only adds to the incredible diversity that engulfs Berlin.