Marcel Fengler, Twisted Bleach

Photo by Luca Campri

[Ostgut Ton]

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While Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock have each established themselves as like-minded soundsmiths of taut, ultra-functional, ear-splitting techno workouts, fellow Berghain resident and best pal Marcel Fengler remains something of an unknown quantity. He has yet to venture beyond the OstGut Ton mothership, and his two previous releases — murky, Gothic techno rollers pitched towards the latest of late nights — have been amongst the label’s most slept-on releases. But if Fengler has his eyes set on the sort of visibility (and lucrative weekends of globetrotting) his associates have gained in the last few years, something tells me “Twisted Bleach,” his latest for OstGut, might just be his international plane ticket.

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To call “Twisted Bleach” tonally colorful might be a touch of an overstatement, though considering what post-industrial and mostly melody-devoid rattle both Planetary Assault Systems and Deuce have unleashed this spring on OstGut, the description just might fit — comparatively speaking. By throwing what sounds like a micro-sampled jazz loop playfully into the mix, Fengler smooths out and heats up what might otherwise constitute another icy, incisor-bearing A-side in a year teeming with them. It’s as if Dettmann or Klock forged a collaboration with Pépé Bradock or Soundhack instead of, well, each other. Fengler’s twitchy, uptempo, and surprisingly detailed burst of energy assures that no ass on the dance floor will be left unshaken. Thus, “Twisted Bleach” will rightly earn its place in many a hotly-tipped record bag during 2009’s sweatiest months. As a composition, however, this track doesn’t quite hold its own. After six minutes of near-constant wiggling, I can’t help but wonder if Fengler has teased as many possibilities out of this wild combination as he could have. “Twisted Bleach,” gallivanting, never quite steps beyond tool status, placing the onus squarely on DJs to wring out a narrative. Yet no one ever said a tool can’t be damn special.

His B-sides, while charismatic, present something of a mixed bag. “Gridlock” builds drama over assertive hi-hats and dub stabs with horror movie strings. Expectations heighten, but Fengler spends the track’s last two minutes paring back the layers of emotional capital he’s amassed, leaving a whole lot of wasted energy to drift up towards the strobe lights. “Chi Twine” finds OstGut, after a seemingly endless string of Berghain material, once again releasing something for the crowd upstairs at Panorama Bar. Excellent drum programming, slowed to a steamy electro stutter, floats old-school bell synths and a razor bass entering its upper register. Once again, Fengler has his machines tuned up nicely, but he’s yet to find a final destination for all of these labored-over sounds. “Twisted Bleach,” while falling a touch short of a true coming-out party, will undoubtedly garner the attention of DJs and the dance floors they lord over, and deservedly so. Marcel Fengler has shown us his first few sets of teeth, but I sense his sharpest fangs lurk just a few rows back.

Will Lynch  on August 26, 2009 at 8:58 AM

“Marcel Fengler has shown us his first few sets of teeth, but I sense his sharpest fangs lurk just a few rows back.”

My sentiment exactly.

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