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If anyone knows Berghain, it’s Marcel Fengler

Fengler’s been with the Berlin-situated superclub since the very early days, joining the likes of Marcel Dettman and Norman Nodge on some of the club’s earliest booking rosters. Fengler’s formidable DJ schedule has been supplemented by a small but well-crafted body of production work: 12″s have been trickling out on Ostgut Ton and Mote-Evolver on a roughly annual basis for the last five years, from pneumatic 2007 single ‘Playground’ through to last year’s driving ‘Frantic’.

For all his way with dynamic 4/4 techno, Fengler isn’t one to hurry unnceccesarily, and he’s only just getting around to releasing his debut album. Due in July on Ostgut-Ton, Fokus is a record with an emphasis on atmosphere and a cinematic bent; often closer in spirit to Symmetry than Surgeon, it’s very much an album designed for cans rather than speaker-stacks.

With Fokus hoving into view, we asked Fengler to pick his ten favourite Berghain records – club favourites, tracks with particular personal associations, or cuts that capture the spirit of techno’s principal bethel.

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1. APHEX TWIN
‘ON’
(WARP RECORDS, 1993) 

When I heard this haunting beauty for the first time back in the 90s, it just blew me away. The weaving melody, endless layers and depth, before this thundrous bass blows straight in your face. Even today it still has everything you could want in an experience of “visionary” audio. When it’s played as the closing track at Berghain I notice the same reaction from the crowd – it leaves you wanting more, which is possibly the greatest quality of all.

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2. SURGEON
‘ATOL’
(DOWNWARDS, 1995)

Released in 1995, a year before the release of the album Communications, this track is my absolute favourite from Surgeon. It reminds me of the DIY parties in the mid 90s where I used to play. The distinctive heavy synth line on this track is something I still incorporate into my sound to this day. Absolutely timeless.

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3. BLUE MAXX
‘SMOOTH LANDING’
(SYNEWAVE, 1996)

Although I am a fan of all the early releases from Synewave, if I had to choose one record from this label it would definately be ‘Smooth Landing’. I found this co-production from Damon Wilde, and co-founder of the French Pumpkin label Maderic Nebinger, through a mixtape from Cari Lekebusch. The tape with the title Deep Techno Night begins with ‘Smooth Landing’ – which describes the track perfectly. Get started with a smooth landing…

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4. LAURENT GARNIER
‘ASTRAL DREAMS’
(F-COMMUNICATIONS, 1994)

This was the first track by Laurent Garnier that I really appreciated, it totally blew me away. Raw, frantic, energetic… I heard it for the first time in the Hardwax Record store in Berlin, and I just couldn’t stand still to that stomping monster of a track. The seemingly endless energy of it just hooked me, and I still love it a lot.

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5. LFO VS. F.U.S.E.
‘LOOP’ (FUSE MIX)
PLUS8 RECORDS (1993)

I first heard this track at one of those semi-legal parties in Berlin in the early 90s. I can still remember – the club was called 1893 and the music on that scene then was very trance-y. Somewhere in the middle I heard ‘Loop’ and I thought, wow .. how fresh and funky! One of several Hawtin classics and one of my all time favorite tracks that I love to play at Berghain!

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6. ROBERT HOOD
‘SLEEP CYCLE’
(M-PLANT, 1999)

Robert Hood is always an artist I keep in my records case. I think his album Minimal Nation is – along with his 1994 release on Axis – a landmark in techno history, because it’s so ahead of it’s time. It sounds kinda like proper funk, just minimalised. The first time I saw him play was in the old Tresor in Berlin. It sounded so unique and awesome, and I still think it does when he plays. I use the song ‘Sleep Cycle’ – from his later release Minimal Nation on M-Plant in 99 – in my sets, and it always works, no matter where or what kind of crowd! Unbelievable all-rounder!

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7. FORMAT #1
SOLID SESSION 
(ESP RECORDS, 1991)

Orlando Voorn’s Format #1 is one of the first records I ever bought. In the early 90s this track was already well established in the Berlin club scene, and it still sounds fresh 22 years later. ‘Solid Session’ marks a phase in my life when I was first discovering electronic music, going to parties and buying records, so I associate this track with many good memories.

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8. KEN ISHII 
‘EXTRA’ (LUKE SLATER REMIX)
(R&S , 1995)

Luke has been one of my heroes since the early 90’s, and both him and his sound have remained true to this day without getting boring. I discovered his original work by seeing the video for this track. Just like the original track itself, the Manga animated “short film” was an amazingly futuristic journey. I only figured out that it was Luke’s mix when I had the record in my hand, and it totally blew my mind!

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9. DJ BONE
‘SHUT THE LITES OFF’
(METROPLEX, 1999)

DJ Bone’s Riding the Thin Line is a permament fixture in my collection. The rustling percussion and hypnotic vocal hook on ‘Shut the Lites Off’ are simply universal. As the track develops you get these warm and embracing pads – when you hear them for the first time they give you goosebumps. A true banger with soul.

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10. JOEY BELTRAM
‘INSTANT’
(TRESOR, 1995)

This track is my pick from Beltram’s unbelivable album Places. He’s at his prime on this hard NY techno funk release. Forging a sound that’s distinctively his own – no melodies at all, cold, stripped down and in your face. When this came out there wasn’t a techno DJ on earth who didn’t have it in their box. It’s just some excellent purist techno and still love to play it loud!

 

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