It's been almost four years since Marcel Dettmann released Berghain 02, the scene-defining mix that seemed to totally encapsulate the (then) new sound of Berlin. Since then, Dettmann's kept himself incredibly busy, not only with his residency at Berghain, but also with his own productions (2010 saw the release of his debut LP, Dettmann, on Ostgut Ton). Still as much of a force in techno as he ever was, it almost goes without saying that Conducted, Dettmann's latest mix, is a great listen. In nearly every way, it plays like an updated edition of Berghain 02 and, as such, it functions as a kind of document of where Dettmann and Berlin techno are at in 2011.
In interviews, Dettmann has mentioned that he likes to start his DJ sets with ambient pieces and experimental electronic music. Following close to this aesthetic, Conducted starts slow and gradually builds into a driving, linear experience. Opening cut "Immolare (First)" by Sandwell District starts things off with a beatless and ghostly piece that evokes the distant passage of cargo ships and diesel trains. From here, the beat begins to take shape in the form of Signal's classically minimal dub-techno cut "Wismut." The steady churn and expansive atmospherics create a feeling of hypnotic propulsion that shoves the mix down a broad lane towards the more fully formed and straightforward nouveau techno of Roman Lindau's "Sub Suggestion." From this point, now moving at a steady clip, Dettmann wastes no time in bringing in hard kick drums and abrasive tonalities.
With a mix this good, it's hard to point out explicit highlights, but invariably there are a few moments that truly stand out. Dettmann's extended blend from Bluemoon Productions' "Night" into The Analogue Cops "Why You Love Me" not only bridges a vast stretch of time (from 1990 to 2011, respectively), but also it allows him to demonstrate how house fits into the spectrum of his sound. Similarly, throughout the latter half of the mix, Dettmann weaves his way through tracks like Vril's "V3" and Milton Bradley's "Don't Phonk," which both evoke the industrial techno championed by Tresor in the '90s. Lastly, the final two tracks, Answer Code Request's "Escape Myself" and Shed's "44A (Hard Wax Forever!)" finish things off with two broken beat tracks that meld together into one final percussive symphony before evaporating into unaccompanied wind-chime-like synth tones.
Throughout the entire mix, Dettmann makes it a point to execute extended blends that don't just segue, but instead completely obscure the boundaries between his selections. His style is deliberate and calculated, but never feels like it moves too fast. Instead, he creates a root bedrock within which selections and highlighted moments jump in and out of the soundscape, creating a cohesive structure whose sum stands distinct from its parts.