Scanning Backwards, Phase Fatale’s second full-length album is music about control. Using the connection between weaponized sound and psychological manipulation as a conceptual foundation, Hayden Payne explores the ways in which music – and sub frequencies in particular – are used to influence thinking and to synchronize emotions and behavior: from military technology to sound systems and the physicality and sexuality of queer techno culture. Known for his innovative post-punk takes of dance music, the Berghain resident draws on his background as both a guitarist and sound engineer to create a heady mix of broken rhythms, noise-, and shoegaze-inflected techno, often at slower tempos. The result is music with space and pace to expand, highlighting the intense rushes of frequencies found in both sonic warfare and functional dance music. Over eight tracks named after a combination of historical and fictional narratives from literature and science fiction, Payne’s rhythmic excursions explore different manifestations of sound as power – specifically within the context of seeing Berghain as an instrument itself. This is also reflected in the album artwork, taken from an early flyer for the SNAX party series and an obvious ode to the fetishization of power dynamics.
As Planetary Assault Systems, Luke Slater is an innovator of psychedelic mindfuck techno. Across a lengthy catalogue that stretches back into the 90s, the music’s bleepy, polyrhythmic loops are as recognizable as they are genre-defining. Plantae is Slater’s first release as PAS on Ostgut Ton since Arc Angel (2016) and covers the spectrum of PAS’s different strains while remaining grounded in Slater’s uncanny funk and knack for developing oblique melodies and rhythms over longer stretches. Deepness and hypnosis come as much through duration as sound design. For Slater, Plantae is made for Berghain, where he is a long-standing resident. In his own words: “I’m sure it’s no surprise that when it comes to putting together a release on Ostgut Ton, PAS takes on its more mind-altering, otherworldly quality by natural cause, quietly reflecting the dark sweaty nights and days at the club; at the point, the common neural coupling, of us all together. PAS has been part of Berghain and Berghain part of PAS for a long time.
“New Atlantis” is the fourth full-length album by longtime Berghain resident Efdemin aka Phillip Sollmann. Long drawn to utopian musical traditions, Sollmann took inspiration for New Atlantis from Francis Bacon’s unfinished 17th century novel of the same name, which describes a fictional island devoted to social progress through the synthesis of art, science, technology and fashion. In the story, Bacon imagines futuristic ‘sound houses’, which contain musical instruments capable of recreating the entirety of the sounds of the universe; a 400-year-old prophesy of today’s digital sonic reality. Over eight tracks, “New Atlantis” oscillates between fast, kaleidoscopic techno, multilayered drones and acoustic instrumentation, fusing for the first time Sollmann’s deep dancefloor productions as Efdemin with his sound art and experimental music projects.
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Answer Code Request returns with his sophomore album Gens on Ostgut Ton, entering darker but equally bass-heavy territory. Today the musical vision offered by Berghain resident Answer Code Request, real name Patrick Gräser, has proved far-sighted. While at first glance electronic music in 2018 seems increasingly balkanized, borders between genres have once again become fuzzier. Now, on his follow up LP Gens, Gräser looks beyond the bass euphoria of Code toward darker horizons and a desolate atmosphere befitting of current global circumstances. It’s electronic music free from genre constraints – one where a broad palette of broken rhythms, varying speeds, different colors and sound design draws listeners into a synthesized world of its own.
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Second issue of Function’s recompiled series on Ostgut Ton’s reissue label A-Ton.
This debut single from previously unseen outfit LSD is remarkable for a number of reasons, not least the fact that the trio is made up of legendary UK techno producers Luke Slater, Steve Bicknell and Dave Sumner AKA Function. Given their collective history of making thumping, mind-altering techno, you’d expect Progress to be both heavy and trippy. That’s certainly what you get from opener “Process 1”, where psychedelic electronics and cascading, otherworldly noises rise above an armour-plated techno groove. They push the envelope even further on “Process 2”, a track blessed with restless cymbal lines and weird, off-key electronics. In comparison, the similarly intense “Process 3” seems deep and woozy, though the incessant, 1990 style bleeps and “LFO” style synths guarantees a suitably hallucinogenic feel throughout.
On ‘World Of The Waking State’ Steffi stretches her wings, having created the album in a period when she found herself free from the past and more comfortable in her own skin. The shift in her mindset led to a new freedom of exploration in her creativity, enabling her to write more experimentally and logically resulting in this new album. Gone are the classic drum sounds and conspicuous melodies of her previous works. Instead, Steffi’s productions unify disparate molecular details to forge a greater whole, reflecting a serious commitment to abstract electronic composition that manifests itself here as a totally inimitable collection of tracks. World Of The Waking State is a confident and mature work of complex rhythms and refined melodies. The overall effect is as subtle, unique and thought provoking as the artist herself.
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