Marcel Dettmann: Conducted
Music Man

Listening to Conducted, a number of epithets come to mind, foremost among them brooding, high-velocity, kinetic, funky, raw, even brutal. It's also interesting to discover how emblematic a particular artist can be of the label with which he/she is associated, and that certainly applies in the case of Marcel Dettman—that the release in question happens to be on Music Man is neither here nor there: Conducted distills the Ostgut Ton sensibility into a single mix presentation. It's actually the second mix release from Dettmann, who's been a resident DJ at the Berghain club in Berlin since its oldest incarnation as Ostgut and who last year issued his self-titled debut album to considerable acclaim on—what else?—Ostgut Ton.

The dystopic tone is set at the outset with Sandwell District's beatless intro “Immolare (First),” after which Dettmann rolls out the heavy artillery, one track after another. A monotone bass pulse obstinately hammers throughout Signal's “Wismut,” until whatever locomotive thrust it possesses is doubled with the advent of Roman Lindau's equally relentless “Sub Suggestion.” Certain tracks stand out as particularly head-spinning. In Reel By Real's “Sundog,” feverish forward thrust is firmly in place, of course, but the track's also distinguished by a bubbly bass line that never stops percolating and the rhythms are less militant techno than funky swing. Equally infectious, Bluemoon Productions' “Night” juxtaposes an acoustic piano figure and dramatic string sweeps with a deliciously potent beat pattern, after which African-styled call-and-response in The Analogue Cops' “Why You Love Me” pushes the mix into an altogether different direction. While Redshape's “The Lesson” memorably overlays its frenetic rhythm broil with cut-up samples of an elementary teacher's math lesson, Cheeba Starks presents The Toupe Committee goes it one better in “GoGo Bop (A Trip To The Bodega)” by looping fragments lifted from a child's telephone call over a bumping groove to funky effect; heard in its proper context, a line such as “Bring around the money” might be harmless enough but when paired with the ominous backing it begins to sound cryptic, even threatening.

Dettmann threads one cut into the next with surgeon-like precision, and the material is as hard-grooving (Silent Servant's “El Mar”) as it is epic (Shed's “Hello Bleep!”). As indomitable as the mix is—and that is surely is—, it also contains no shortage of melodic twists and turns, and consequently holds one's attention for the seventy-one-minute ride. It's techno at its most uncompromising, for sure, but it's also techno informed by Detroit- and Chicago-associated traditions and—look no further than Answer Code Request's dubstep-funk exercise “Escape Myself”—has its ears firmly open to new sounds originating out of the UK and elsewhere.

January 2012