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  • Filed under: Review
  • 10/25/2012

Norman Nodge Berghain 06

Lawyer by day and Berghain resident by night, to say Norman Nodge leads an interesting life would be an understatement. In his nightlife guise, he's one of the less visible members of the Ostgut family, only periodically releasing records and frequently taking the role of the club's opening DJ. This isn't for lack of experience; born in the GDR, he got his start right after reunification and was, by his own account, a musical mentor for fellow Easterners Marcel Dettmann and Marcel Fengler. Berghain 06, his turn in the club's lauded series of sonic communiques, plays off the breadth of his experience while also demonstrating the way in which nights at the Friedrichshain power station unfold in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Unsettling while simultaneously soothing, Birds Two Cage's "Gase" kicks off a three-song passage that opens the mix, spreading out from a creepy ambient industrial atmosphere into a comfortable stretch of looping but muted techno. Sliding through the metallic churn of Patrick Gräser's "From Foreign Territories" and the aimless elastic acid of Hauntologists' "Untitled (B1)," Nodge takes his time as he descends into a maintained pocket that feels more mentally hypnotic than physically affecting. Once he's arrived, Nodge doesn't play with intense dynamics, instead preferring to grind various rhythms together—the gears of each track connecting for a stretch before separating into new percussive landscapes.

Now approaching top gear, Jeff Mills' "Keeping of the Kept" signals the entry into the heart of the mix. Stripped down, it's a runaway TR-909 speeding straight ahead, its forward momentum punctuated only once by the unsettling chord of a synthesized string ensemble. Meshing up with Silent Servant's "Untitled (A1)," Nodge doesn't skip a minute as he drifts deeper through hisses of heavily degraded magnetic tape towards the full-bore drive of DJ T-1000's "Metra." From here on, it's all shades of nuance within the broader picture, as nothing pops out on its own; instead, the individual pieces just add little touches. Architectural's "Looking Ahead" throws some melody in the mix, Tim Taylor & DJ Slip's "New York Minds" is a rare—and comparatively old-school—moment with vocals, Chancellor's "Roundabouts" lends some muscle, and El Gato #9's "Coefficient of Friction (Monty Luke Black Catalogue Remix)" throws a nod towards Detroit.

The mix's only unexpected moment comes at the end. Just as Radioactive Man's "Nasty Radio" seems to be resettling the mix into an almost downtempo groove, it fades out into Legowelt's remix of Xosar's "Rainy Day Juno Jam." Upholding a lo-fi aesthetic dictated by the imprecise sequencing of the human hand, it stands in stark contrast to the mechanization of what came prior. Squiggling Juno leads and meandering electric piano play out like loose loops within a tank of heavy reverb while she sings wordless melodies in a style that falls somewhere between darkwave and 4AD. It's an odd choice, but one that ends the mix in a way that's hard to forget.

Berghain 06 is as subtle and subdued as the man behind it, and while that might mean it's not as flashy as some of the previous entries, that's hardly a reflection on the mix itself. In the best sense possible, it feels like an expertly crafted warm-up set, the kind of rare performance that, though it might not be the main event, is absolutely necessary for the stability of the whole 24-hour party. In this way, it's another excellent mix in the Berghain series, and presents a side of the club that has so far been less officially documented.

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