Marcel Dettmann, Translation EP


Artwork by Jonas Eriksson

[Ostgut Ton]


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Marcel Dettmann reawakened the relationship between industrial abstraction and techno on his steely yet gritty debut album, but his new EP Translation sees the German DJ/producer operating in a radically different sphere. Indeed, this creative restlessness is a common feature of his catalog so far: just as soon as he teases out an approach that fascinates others, Dettmann veers into a new direction. It explains why his label, MDR, is no longer a home to dense loops and has been replaced by distorted bass oppression, as well as why this release on Ostgut Ton brings Dettmann back to the purist sound that originally inspired him to make music.

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The listener is first confronted with “Barrier,” which in spite of its title is a relatively serene arrangement, as spoken passages from the Apollo mission are cut up to the sound of understated ambient drones. It provides a fitting prelude for “Translation One.” Far removed from the stomping intensity of his MDR releases, its lithe rhythm reveals a hitherto unrevealed elegance to Dettmann’s productions, but the eerie synths and rasping percussion still serve as a reminder that the Berghain resident’s focus remains on the dance floor. “Translation Two” pushes this purist approach a few steps farther. While the first installment was derived in part from Sleeparchive and Sähkö, the follow up is more similar to Robert Hood. The central rhythm has that wiry intensity the Detroit producer excels at, yet Dettmann makes his own mark through the use of atmospheric synths and beats that are looser and lighter than the master builder’s metallic repetition. Finally, “Planning” sounds like Dettmann trying to reimagine Hood during his most visceral phase, with jarring riffs dominating the foreground. However, the use of a swinging rhythm that sounds like a Cosmin TRG track encased in a titanium shell ensures the track doesn’t descend into a self-conscious interpretation of 90s techno. With one ear listening to the past and the other firmly pressed against the door that leads to the future, Translation shows that there is no danger of Dettmann staying in the same place for too long.

Randy P  on October 22, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Mr. Brophy, in a field where some reviewers seem to have just fallen off the turnip truck, your reviews are always on point and insightful. Your sharing of your breadth of knowledge is much appreciated. Thank you.

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