Review: Alongside regular studio partner Andreas Baumecker, Sam Barker has released a swathe of admired singles and a couple of on-point albums on Ostgut Ton. Here he returns to the much-loved German imprint with his most significant solo release to date: a debut album of drowsy, sun-baked electronic positivity that expertly melds elements of hazy ambient, dub techno, off-kilter electronica and the classic kosmiche synthesizer soundscapes associated with Tangerine Dream. It's a lot less dancefloor-focused than much of his previous material, but that's not a criticism: indeed, the fact that it's warm, opaque and prioritizes fuzzy, slowly shifting musical movements is the album's greatest strength.
Review: You'll struggle to find another LP opener that's quite as striking as "Oh, Lovely Appearance of Death", the stunning ambient-folk cut that kicks off Phillip Sollmann's first album as Efdemin for five years. It's utterly beguiling and features a traditional folk acapella over layers of hushed electronic chords. It sets the tone for an album in which Sollmann effortlessly saunters between atmospheric and droning dancefloor techno ("Good Winds", the 14-minute, Berghain-friendly "New Atlantis"), woozy experimental ambient works ("At The Stranger's House"), Jew's Harp-sporting club cuts ("A Land Unknown"), discordant free tech-jazz ("Temple") and the kind of hazy, traditional music-meets-electronica cuts that have previously been a hallmark of Firecracker's Mac-Talla Nan Creag ("The Sound House").
Review: Martyn's last physical album came out all the way back in 2014, when the term 'post' had still yet to gain notoriety and a meaningful relevance to the music industry. It is now 2018, and it's clear that Martyn, the Dutch bass legend, has a new story to tell, and it's thanks to Ostgut Ton that he's able to tell it. Voids is a magnificently deep and treacherous LP, often relying on abstract shapes to give the techno its edge, much like on "Voids One" and the following "Manchester". Aside from the beatless thrills, though, Martyn drops an impressive amount of hybrid burners, such as "Mind Rain" or "Why" - both representative of the blending of sounds that has taken electronic music by the scruff of the neck. It's a more pensive, more exploratory Martyn, and we love it.
Review: When looking for someone to create a very special mix to celebrate Berghain's 15th birthday, Ostgut Ton turned to Luke Slater, a DJ/producer who has played in the infamous Berlin club more times than most. Slater decided to take a different approach, creating a slew of brand-new cuts out of samples and snippets of tracks buried within the German label's vast discography. These were then stitched together to form a mix that the label is making free to download from April 3rd. The "O-Ton Reassembled" tracks are superb though, hence this double 12" featuring the best of them. Mostly focused firmly on the dancefloor, they range from loop-heavy techno jack-tracks to pleasingly melodic and hypnotic affairs, via occasional forays into 21st century breakbeat science, polyrhthmic dancefloor slammers and fiendishly out-there dancefloor soundscapes.
Review: Berlin's lady of ladies, Steffi, returns to familiar settings with this latest album, a deep and calculating blend of technoid sonics for the mighty Ostgut Ton imprint. The DJ-producer has been known to deliver absurdly twisted sets at the Berlin institution over the years, but the majority of her work has been made up of short collaborations and comparatively more dance-centric material. World Of The Waking State feels like a change of gear, where the focus on dance has been replaced by something much more imperceptible and inward looking. From "Different Entities" to "All Living Things, the opening three tunes point to a noticeable struggle behind the production desk, a deep sense of melancholia which enables these spectacular electronic gems from having cross-cultural appeal. The flip of the first disc further experiments with the deeper end of the sound palette, which is something that can be said about this entire LP. While this might get the Ostgut hype at first, the passage of time will undoubtedly get people to see it as a classic. What an album - very hotly recommended.
Review: All hail the return of Etapp Kyle. For over 10 years this ever-intriguing producer has been orbiting the Ostgut Ton axis, from Ben Klock's label to Unterton and lastly Ostgut Ton itself back in 2017. After some time away, Kyle is back with a new EP that was wholly worth the wait. "Nolove" is a dreamy, fractured slice of techno abstraction with insanely detailed production chops, while "Unseen" opens things up with some more forthright drums that move like a more linear take on the Shackleton sound. "Polar" thrums and pulses with sound design as much as beats, but the icy atmospheric swirls are the star of the show. "Eden" strips things back with a beautiful, plaintive electronica finisher that keeps percussion to a minimum and focuses on gossamer synth lines to melt away to.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge - "One Being, One Orientation, One Power" (6:12)
Review: For the ninth volume in their ongoing compilation series, Berlin clubbing institution Berghain has handed over the reigns to man-of-many-aliases Dominick Fernow, an experimental electronic music hero known for his work as Vatican Shadow, Prurient, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement and Exploring Jezebel among others. His choices are universally inspired, from the spoken word loops of Genesis P-Orridge and ghostly, mind-altering dancefloor hum of Los Angeles Death Cult, to the lo-fi techno of Ron Morelli, the acid-fired intensity of Volvox and the dust-encrusted industrial throb of full-throttle cuts by JK Flesh and Alberich. The double-vinyl set also includes a number of twisted modular loops and occasional forays into noise-soaked ambience. Impressive stuff all told.
Review: Japanese artist Sunao Gonno's idiosyncratic sound has appeared on labels such as Endless Flight, International Feel and Beats In Space over the years, where he's dabbled in shoegaze, kosmische and psychedelia as heard on 2015's breathtaking "Remember The Life Is Beautiful" or on last year's contemporary jazz outing "In Circles" with Kazuhiko Masumura. An accomplished DJ also, he's no stranger to Berlin's Panorama Bar, where Nick Hoppner (Touch From A Distance) has long held a residency. The two artists collaborate for the first time on "Lost", featuring three sublime sonic journeys: go deep into the exotic on "Bangalore" with its world music influence, or chill to the vivid downbeat tones of "Love Lost" until "Start Trying" returns to the program with its neon-lit aesthetic plus breakbeats reminiscent of the rave era.
Review: Berghain resident Patrick Graeser returns as part of the Ostgut Ton family, with his second full length opus. Much like his 2014 debut Code, Graeser has honed a hybrid musical approach that stands out in a world of uniform 4/4 techno - as heard over the years on MDR, Music Man and of course his own Answer Code Request imprint. Gens is a diverse yet cohesive affair, between the more straight-ahead tracks like "Knbn2", "Cicadae" or the particularly seething "Sphera" (which are breakbeat driven, bass-heavy and UK inspired), there are some mentalist IDM journeys ("Ab Intus/Audax") and even breathtaking ambient moments like "Orarum" and "Mora". Brilliant stuff.
Review: Ostgut Ton's first significant release of 2020 comes courtesy of Phase Fatale, an industrial techno-focused alias of New Yorker-in-Berlin Hayden Payne. "Scanning Backwards" is the producer's second album and is every bit as muscular, forthright and mind-altering as you'd expect, though the presence of clear EBM and industrial funk influences also ensures a healthy dose of rhythmic funk beneath the growling electronics, riotous riffs and slightly panicked Nitzer Ebb style melodies. Highlights are plentiful and include the metallic dancefloor paranoia of "Blinding By Oath", the pitched-down, wall-of-sound creepiness of "During The Freezing Process", the Test Department-does-ambient vibes of "Proxy Contact" and the throbbing intensity of "De-patterning".
Review: On his first solo album in five long years, Berlin techno heavyweight Marcel Dettmann is in scintillating form. The six tracks that make up "Test File" are in some ways typical of his output, in other ways surprisingly atypical. Compare and contrast, for example, the title track's buzzing, mind-altering, percussively dense Berghain techno intensity, and the deliciously low-slung, atmospheric and dubby "Torch", where Dettmann dips the tempo and looks towards post-dubstep rhythms, post-punk and gnarled electronica for inspiration. Or, for that matter, the smooth and atmospheric dub techno hypnotism of "Error (1st Take)", the head-nodding dark-room house haziness of "Autumn 77" and the blistering peak-time techno assault of "Ascending". All hit the mark impressively and bear the hallmarks of Dettmann's signature style, even of their aims are impressively varied.