When I heard Marcel Dettmann was returning to Australia in January, I bought tickets right away. Dettmann is one of my favourites, a true pioneer of techno, with experience spanning over 20 years. He has multiple releases on multiple record labels including Berghain’s Ostgut Ton as well as his own venture Marcel Dettmann Records. This is a guy whose tour schedule takes him around the world, yet returns him to techno powerhouse Berghain at least once a fortnight. He has held his residency there since 1994.
The evening was a collaborative effort hosted by two Sydney promoters, Charades and House of Mince, both with an impressive back catalogue of artists on their bills including Tensnake, Andy Hart, Optimo, Fur Coat, Max Graef, Radio Slave, Recloose and Roland Tings just to name a few. It’s such an exciting time in Australia, with promoters like these regularly bringing exceptional talent to local venues.
I arrived at The Imperial Hotel in Erskineville just after 11pm. The underground, basement room was heaving with people, despite Dettmann not starting until 1am.
Claire Morgan, an Australian expatriate currently living and DJing in Berlin was on warm up duties, playing vinyl to a congested dance floor. While Morgan’s mixing and track selection was of a high calibre and everyone in the room was dancing it felt a little eager for her warm up position.
Dettmann arrived just before his starting time of 1am. Standing at well over 6ft tall with broad shoulders, shoulder length, ice blonde hair and dressed entirely in black he is the ultimate personification of the Berghain style techno.
Many are apprehensive about seeing Dettmann play, a man well renowned for his cold, stripped bare, building block techno that he both produces and releases on his own record label. Minimal techno is a great sound, but can become mundane in longer sets.
Dettmann knows this and instead of relying singularly on the sound he is renowned for he mixed sounds and intensities, some tracks warm, melodic and ambient, some cold and minimal, a consistent beat threading its way through the set. The sound was fun, unpredictable and kept me dancing front and center right until the end of his set.
Highlights of the night included Aaron Carl’s track “Down” as well as a professional dominatrix, Miss Tokyo, dressed entirely in latex, performing tricks at the back of the room and hanging from the ceiling by her vagina.
Dettmann finished a little abruptly at 5am, with Sydney act Trinity taking over the reigns. I was excited that she was on the bill, live, female, techno producers are a rarity in Australia and I’d heard nothing but good things about her sets. She played a great early morning vibe with some weirder sounds that kept people dancing right until close.
Marcel Dettmann played an impeccable set- he always does. I did leave feeling a little disappointed that he finished so abruptly. It would have been special for Dettmann to curate the end of the night, playing until the lights came on and the punters were forced out, after all the man is know for his immense 12 hour sets and early morning journeys at Berghain.