His record bag covers the full compass of the genre, a sound he’s famously honed and mastered over more than a decade as one of the residents at Berghain. He’s also become one of our own staple artists over the years. As we prepare to welcome him back to Room One this weekend, we took a look at some of his definitive Dancefloor IDs. Raw, driving, and often uncompromising, these are records that fully embody the Marcel Dettmann sound.
Trevino – Doldrums [Klockworks]
You can practically see the smoke drifting through Berghain’s dancefloor if you play this record loud enough. Tightly-binded claps collide with pulsing thuds, backed by shadowy soundscapes that sound like they were made for the Berlin club’s cavernous main room. Doldrums was released through Ben Klock’s Klockworks imprint, but it’s not a shock that his counterpart and Ostgut partner-in-crime was also a fan.
Nitzer Ebb – Control I'm Here [Mute]
Stripped-to-its-bones techno? Absolutely. Banging electro? Sure. Vintage EBM? Why not? Dettmann will jump between all of these styles during his marathon sets, often within the space of a handful of records. He’s always been vocal about how 80s groups like Nitzer Ebb have influenced his tastes, something you’ll quickly learn from going to see him play.
Alex Cortex – Nox [Platzhirsch Schallplatten]
Alex Cortex has dipped his toes into everything from straight techno to mechanical electro and abstract minimalism over the last two decades. On Nox, he goes bold with kicking drum arrangements and a chunky bass line. Signature Dettmann in rave mode.
Baby Ford – Normal (Is It Normal? Club Mix) [Rephlex]
Ultra-stripped and as crisp as it gets, the classic Peter Ford style. While something so elemental could easily be overlooked in the wrong hands, you can imagine how Dettmann would squeeze the creepy vocal snippets for everything they’re worth.
Planetary Assault Systems – Arc [Mote Evolver]
Luke Slater at his fuzziest, with the relentless pulse he often likes to toy with as Planetary Assault Systems. In other words, exactly the type of thing you can imagine Dettmann rinsing at 5am.
Terrence Dixon – Escape [Knotweed]
Detroit hypnotism from one of the city’s true enigmas, Terrence Dixon. People love to reference the extra-terrestrial world when describing the most out-there techno, but few manifest the style better than Dixon. Like all of his best records, Escape doesn’t exactly take you by surprise at any point, but that’s probably why it appeals to DJs like Dettmann.
DJ QU - Untitled (Hi-Life) [Strength Music]
Pure deepness from New York house’s top don, DJ QU. Organic drum splashes, compressed hats, and the kind of melody you’ll still have stuck in your head on Monday morning after the party. A brighter side to Dettmann’s repertoire.
Gherkin Jerks – Acid Indigestion [Gherkin]
We’re not sure why Larry Heard only put out two records as Gherkin Jerks. Released covertly in 1988 and 1989, Heard’s Gherkin Jerks material showed him going beyond his Mr. Fingers guise to explore the full weight of the 303. Acid Indigestion displayed the twisted side to Gherkin Jerks, as if his machinery was taking on a life of its own.
Kenny Larkin - Glob (Kenny Larkin Remix) [Planet E]
The Detroit pioneer Kenny Larkin manoeuvres his way around one of the best tracks he’s written, Glob. While the original pretty much rests on its patchy keys, on this remix he uses toms and a meaty kick drum to add some weight between all the flitting. With all of this added dancefloor drive, it’s easy to see how Larkin caught Dettmann’s ears.
Answer Code Request – Calm Down [MDR]
One of the standouts on Dettmann’s own label, MDR. Gräser makes 90s style breakbeats the backbone to Calm Down, though the juice is in the eerie soundscapes and rumbling bassline. Our favourite record of Answer Code Request’s, and probably one of Dettmann’s too.
Marcel Dettmann's ten bombs also available to listen to as a full playlist via our YouTube channel.
Photo: Bobby Vasilev