v/a: Fünf (Ostgut)
Berghain label and club Ostgut celebrates its fifth birthday with this compilation of exclusives from their roster of usual suspects along with contributions from some kindred spirits. With 26 tracks and running over 2 hours in length, it’s a healthy dose of high-calibre electronic music that is mostly functional for the dancefloor, but also deep and heady enough to stand alone on headphones or the home system. Of course the quality control is high, as usual; Ostgut has a fine reputation when it comes to releasing deep minimal techno that is as streamlined for a dancefloor as it is cerebral. But not all of the artists here adhere to the formula; Marcel Fengler goes leftfield with a jerky dubstep-tinged track in “Shiraz.” It’s nice to hear some veterans like Substance and Dinky turning out new tracks for Ostgut that fit well within the paradigm. In fact Substance’s “Gestalts” is a highlight in its metallic chugginess, lacking a bassline or melody… just purely physical techno. Some tracks seem to play the minimal card a little too safely though. Spectal resident Ryan Elliott’s “Abatis” comes off a bit flat to me in its extended plainness, sounding very much like Baby Ford as his most minimal. Some tracks veer more into minimal house (Dinky) whereas others are freeform ambient (Emika, Marcel Dettmann), but the best ones combine aesthetics, such as the rousing dark tech of Len Faki’s “Kraft und Licht,” the chunky mechanical funk of Nick Höppner’s “Isp” or the reverberated ghost of Detroit coursing through Shed’s “Boom Boom.” More physical tracks are included from Barker & Baumecker, Substance, Fiedel and Soundstream, all of which provide a nice hefty counterpoint to the smoother, more subtle sounds of acts like Norman Nodge, Margaret Dygas or Prosumer, who turns in a notably non-house track, less soul and more sleek. The digital package is well worth it, with 26 tracks approaching 3 hours of audio for less than $10. It’s a great slab of the label and club’s aesthetic, all of its various facets strongly represented.
Watch/listen: Substance “Gestalts”