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Ben Klock – Berghain 04 review

The timing of this mix couldn’t be better – Berghain is currently the Most Talked About Techno Club On Earth, to the point where we can one day expect the club’s loyal patrons to remember the former power plant in the same hushed tones as disco heads who long for the days of the Paradise Garage and house aficionados who frequented the Warehouse and Music Box – perhaps not in terms of sheer groundbreaking importance, but because it has shaped a singular sound, and a vibrant scene that has built around it.

Stepping up to the task of curating the fourth instalment of the club’s mix series (following on from André Galluzi, Marcel Dettmann and Len Faki) must have been daunting for Ben Klock, but it is a challenge he has tackled with aplomb. In a recent interview with Juno Plus, Klock said there was no way he could – or would – try to replicate one of his mammoth DJ sets in Berghain 04. He’s right: far from the relentless, pounding sets he is known for, the mix builds slowly, incorporating dubstep-tinged moments, housier elements and (of course) a sprinkling of subterranean machine techno. Indeed it isn’t until Levon Vincent’s “The Long Life” crawls out of STL’s “Loop 04” that things approach fist-clenching territory. And from here on in, every time the mix threatens to get all peak-time on us, Klock reels it back in with a subtle shift back down the gears.

Most of the tracks here are exclusives, which does not, of course, a good compilation make. But Klock achieves his goal of using unreleased tracks to create a sonic journey that is at once familiar yet excitingly new. He’s called in plenty of favours, with new material from Martyn, Kevin Gorman, James Ruskin and Roman Lindau to name a few – and no doubt these producers were more than happy to oblige. (He also manages to sneak in one of his all time favourites, Tyree’s 1995 classic “Nuthin Wrong”, for good measure.)

The highlights, tracks-wise, have to be Gorman’s “7am Stepper”, an epic, broken beat journey into submerged atmospherics and spooky chords. Not far behind is Vincent’s aforementioned effort, which comes replete with the cavernous, hollow bassline that the New Yorker seems to have perfected, and DVS1’s “Pressure”, which sees hypnotic organ chimes prevail against a backdrop of subtle 909 programming, and sets the mood for the mix in superb fashion.

Like all great mix compilations, this is something you can revisit, and on each repeat listen new elements and nuances make themselves apparent in ways you hadn’t noticed before. Klock shows he is no one trick pony too; capable of fusing genres together in intelligent, creative and lucid fashion. Ultimately, Berghain 04 is as good an argument as any that this club’s near mythical reputation is indeed deserved.

Review: Aaron Coultate