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  • Filed under: Review
  • 05/16/2013

Steffi Panorama Bar 05

It's hard to tell exactly what the point of a commercial mix CD is in this day and age. Lower costs of travel and a proliferation of free, high-quality podcasts have caused the once important medium to lose much of its potency. Yet there remains a compelling aspect to certain lingering institutions, especially when it comes to the expression of a feeling or style particular to a geographic location. Of the existent labels still producing mix CDs, Ostgut Ton's Berghain and Panorama Bar series are certainly at or near the top. The steady trickle of releases issued by these two outposts over the years has acted as official dossiers for the current sound of Friedrichshain's dance mecca. Panorama Bar 05, the latest offering, is a consistently well-crafted snapshot of the dancefloor as presided over by long-time resident DJ Steffi.

Like many of the prior Panorama Bar mixes, 05 is guided by the spirit of house, but is more or less defined by its unwillingness to remain stylistically confined. Here, Steffi moves in cycles, starting with the downbeat techno of "18:30" by Palisade (a Redshape side project) before exploring narcotic strains of house, ecstatic bits of edited disco, and reaching its Detroit-hued techno conclusion. But that doesn't mean 05 is disorganized; Steffi glues her narrative together with unobtrusive blends which allow her stylistic transitions to seem effortless while still occasionally retaining a necessary element of surprise.

That said, the mix's first quarter is subtle almost to a fault in the way the DJ studiously explores the soft edges of deep house. Like the title of the second song, Endian's "Doze," it's sleepy, and sounds less like club music than it does the soundtrack to some luxurious 5 a.m. comedown. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though it does make for a weird contrast when the music takes on a tougher tone four songs later during Fred P.'s "Project 05." With the atmospheric veil now lifted, Steffi has some space to drop uptempo acid tracks like JuJu & Jordash's "A Stab in The Dark," which—along with the aforementioned Fred P. joint—is one of a few original tunes exclusive to 05. Sounding like the primordial acid-house experiments of Giorgio Moroder, the Israeli duo's cut percolates its way toward a kind of disco that comes completely out of leftfield, with giant analog arpeggios sputtering out over loosely timed machine percussion. This acts as a natural setup for John Barera & Will Martin's "Reality," a heavily edited remix of Juggy Murray Jones' "Inside America" that manages to fuse the '76 disco classic with a touch of carefully placed modern synthwork.

The pacing is top notch throughout Steffi's DJ set, with a slow build of intensity that she brings to a peak following a brief moment of disco euphoria. The repetitive piano stabs and clanging cowbell of Juergen Junker's "Post Reunion" give way to 05's final stretch, which is composed of the kind of techno that might be more readily expected from Ostgut Ton's Berghain series. But, for some reason, this doesn't seem out of place, and instead ties the mix neatly together with the grittiness balancing out the earlier portion's mellow streak. Tracks like Steffi's own "DB011" and DJ Skull's "Don't Stop the Beat" chug along before being brought back down by Obsolete Music Technology's spacey, Detroit-indebted "Latency."

05 comes to a close with Trevino's "Juan Two Five," another Detroit-style techno track featuring slippery chords played over a bassline reminiscent of Rolando. It's an indeterminate ending, one that feels as though, if given more time, it might lead down another unexplored rabbit hole. But of course, that's the problem with these kinds of mixes—because they're so compressed in relation to the experience they strive to emulate, we're always left wanting more.

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