Tresor, Berlin: Baptism by Bass, A Foreign Affair
(two mixes for you, the first is Juan Atkin’s FACT mix, typically varied and looser than a straight-up techno mix. Dasha Rush’s mix is more accurately representative of what was played on the night)
With a world so saturated with sound and creativity it is difficult these days to consistently find the solace of authentic quality that we frequently long for; however, for the moments in which we do find our solace it is all the more pleasurable and we are inclined to savour every lasting moment of it. I say that the world is saturated simply because it is – that isn’t to say creativity as a process is limited to a saturation point, far from it – and (need I even mention it) with the development of technology and the internet the production and accessibility of music has expanded to such an outrageous extent that we are overwhelmed by the sheer volume and breadth of material we are able to get our ears on. Indeed, the pursuit of original, authentic, and quality music is something hard-won (if ever won at all), and those that can sustain it are of but an elite few.
Tresor has been a flagship of techno for more than twenty years now (albeit through a number of guises) and continues to be one of the biggest identities in underground electronic music today. For those that have had the pleasure of visiting the club (now located on Köpenicker Straße, having reopened in 2007 after a short hiatus), you will know that even before stepping inside you can already gain a reasonable impression of the majesty with which Tresor exudes. Approaching the club at night, it emerges from the midnight darkness an industrial behemoth. Once entered into this colossal structure you are lured into the underground cavernous expanse of which the club is named after and within which the infinity of techno is housed. Going in and coming out are two completely different (but intrinsically linked) events, and what happens in between is an adventure; I’ve had a few nights at Tresor and each time has been nothing short of brilliant. It may be worth mentioning that once something becomes so highly-regarded the span of it’s influence and reach extends to a global scale. One ‘problem’ that the famous Berghain experienced was the relinquishing of it’s ‘underground’ status, it’s fame had exceeded itself, and what the club had first stood for and endeavoured to represent was very quickly challenged by the larger demographic of people that were attracted to it. Nonetheless I feel that the magic of places such as Berghain and Tresor has been hardly affected, and they manage the influx of their international audiences very well. (I’m actually astounded at the integrity of these people, how they uphold their values and never stray from the particular idea that their work comes to represent.)
Saturday the 2nd February was an important night for Tresor as it was the debut London Showcase (the first of a number of high-quality techno nights in London hosted and curated by Tresor). Delivering what proved to be an incredibly well-balanced line-up, it was a great joy to hear that classic Berlin techno sound over a full system and outside of Berlin. The venue for the night was Netil House (East London, E8) which at first impressions seemed to be pretty average, but upon further deliberation I would say that it was probably the best space available to them at the time. The venue was nothing compared to their Berlin headquarters, but I suppose people who haven’t visited it would be satisfied with this compromise. The simplicity of the venue worked well: one large room, one smoking area – that’s it. However I must take this opportunity to say that the front-house organisation for the night was, quite frankly, absolutely dire. I’ll refrain from including expletives, but in all honesty the way it was organised on the night was unacceptable. Queueing for an hour in borderline sub-zero temperatures, a cloak-room incapacitated by staff that seemed oblivious to the fact that there were hundreds of people wanting to use it, and the cost for a bottle of water being £2.50. If you are hosting a warehouse rave, it would be no surprise that you might be expecting a fairly big group of people to turn up. If you aren’t ready for the onslaught of 2,000 hungry people ready to get sweaty and pilled up then what are you playing at? When you go out to have fun and enjoy yourself, the last thing you want to be doing is standing in a mash of people for an hour waiting for someone to put your coat on a hanger. I will admit that £2.50 is fairly standard for bottled water in clubs, but when you cannot offer tap-water as another alternative, this seems to be an unreasonable and fairly inconsiderate decision on Management’s part – at least charge less for the bottled water. Whether you’re buzzing off your tits or not, it gets hot in there and staying hydrated is one of the most important things you should do; it’s a basic need that should be supplied. Also £2.50 for less than half a pint of Coke? Jog on.
RANT OVER. It’s easy to complain, that’s why people do it. But when the basics of running a night are missing, it shows, bright as day, and really has the potential to bring down the success of a night. Maybe it’s teething issues, technical issues, call it whatever, but for any problems that arise on a night, you should have contingency. Not really any excuses.
So yeah, the music. This is all about the music isn’t it? As mentioned earlier the lineup was brilliant, well-balanced and also symbolically representative of Tresor’s musical identity. Highlights were definitely the esteemed Detroit legend Juan Atkins and from Russia with love, Dasha Rush (LIVE). The sound was powered by stacks of the almighty Funktion One (presumably a very similar set-up to their native home) and filled the room nicely with powerful mids and lows, warehouse vibes but with enough clarity to remain on point. Juan Atkins ventured deep into sonic emporium, subtly and effortlessly drifting through avenues of tech-house, gritty acid touches and those hard and penetrating sounds of Detroit that have so ubiquitously found their way into almost all areas of techno-influenced music; probably the most diverse and far-reaching set of the night (albeit I missed most of Psyk‘s set due to queuing). Atkins’ calm, collected demeanour at the decks and his frequently discerning eye on the crowd-dynamic is but small indication to the maturity and eminence of his musicianship. At times it would appear as if Atkins dropped into techno-induced trance, entirely at one with the mix, completely absorbed in techno sound-scape.
Dasha Rush’s live set was impressive, heady, and a perfect precursor to Atkin’s peak-time slot, to say the least. The transition was seamless too. The live setup gave her set that extra edge and, especially with techno, thrived on looping pure creation ever deeper into the abyss. DJ Deep‘s set was unsurprisingly pretty deep, and was most suitable for playing the last slot (of what would appear to be a relatively short ‘rave’ by German standards). Never too obtrusive, though coming teasingly close, Deep’s underground sounds provided something of a consolation and resolution to the unrelenting fury of the past 7 hours. This wasn’t to say that people started falling asleep – far from it. But sometimes DJs or Programmers for nights find it difficult to understand that you do need peaks and troths, dynamism, contour, to a night of DJing and music. This night had all of that and it worked like magic.
It was refreshing to hear many tracks I’d never heard before, and I welcomed the fact that I was free from the laborious and almost inescapable wake of Au Seve and other tedious 4x4s that seem to be obsessively rinsed at regular house nights. Some massive releases definitely made their way to the dance-floor however, and for a moment you could have sworn you were definitely partying somewhere in Eastern Berlin. But so much more than what came of this night on a local level, is that the arrival of Tresor in London is a big step forward and implies the much talked about ‘revival’ of techno in the UK (Whatever that means… hashtagcontentious, discuss); and this inauguration into the city’s fiercely competetive and varied cohort of cutting-edge night-life and musicophilia promises to be history in the making. Keep your heads up for forthcoming nights from Tresor. Don’t sleep.