Ostgut Ton is the musical outlet and in-house record label of Berghain & Panorama Bar, the infamous German club that many regard to be the best in the world. Because of the mystery surrounding the club and the high profile of the artists associated with the label, there’s always going to be a lot of hype surrounding their output, but despite this they’ve still managed to maintain an impressive level of consistency in the quality of their 90+ EPs and over 20 albums.
Having just celebrated 10 years as a label, we had a dig through their catalogue, looking past tracks like ‘Dawning‘ and the ‘Subzero‘ and looking to those that should’ve got a little more love than they actually did.
Planetary Assault Systems – ‘X Speaks To X (Appleblim & Al Tourettes Remix)’, from Remixes (2009)
As techno tracks go, this one really has it all: rumbling bassline, jittery hi-hats, massive kicks in an interesting pattern and a fog horn sound that bursts in just when you think you have the track figured out. Certainly not what you’d expect from this Bristol-based duo, and it would have slipped under my radar had it not been for Surgeon reaching for it in his fabric mix CD, which may be why this release has a Discogs price hovering around £3. It deserves to be higher, but thank goodness it’s not ey?
Nick Höppner – ‘Makeover’, Makeover/Foundling (2009)
Starting with a wispy synth melody, Nick Höppner gradually creates an excellent skippy beat, culminating in a catchy bell pattern and vocal snippets in just the right places. It’s a little chunkier than what you’d expect of him nowadays, but it’s up there as one of his best. With a dub techno excursion on the other side, this release really shows how versatile Höppner is as a producer.
Prosumer & Murat Tepeli feat. Elif Bicer – ‘Turn Around (Cassysmoothmix)’, from Turn Around (2008)
This track features on one of the remix packages of Prosumer and Murat Tepeli’s excellent debut album for Ostgut. Cassy strips back the original, taking just what she needs to make a sleek club track perfect for the early hours. The prominence of the vocals on the original may be too much for many DJ sets, but this remix can be slipped in to most with great effect.
Steffi – ‘Kill Me (Instrumental Dub Mix)’, from Kill Me (2010)
Another example of the vocals of the original being a bit too much, so I’m really glad Steffi included the dub version on this release. She cuts out almost all of Elif Bicer’s part, saving a few snippets to be deployed at regular intervals, and lets the near-perfect groove of the original take centre stage. My only complaint is the length of it, that bassline really could go on for a lot more than just five minutes.
Fred P – ‘Project’, from Panorama Bar 05 (2013)
The tracks commissioned for the Berghain and Panorama Bar mixes provide an opportunity for producers outside the immediate Ostgut roster to give their take on these special rooms, and Steffi’s Panorama Bar 05 is one of the best. Fred P’s contribution starts off with a rolling acid line but progresses into a pad led piece with stuttering snares and hats jumping all over the place.
Big Strick – ‘Hayday’, from Panorama Bar 05 (2013)
Such a strong compilation, I had to reach for a second. Detroit native, Big Strick, provides some lovely deep house with plenty of miscellaneous percussion and nice swooping pads, perfect for the beginning of a set.
MyMy – ‘Pink Flamingos’, from Southbound (2008)
Another Nick Höppner release, but this time under his MyMy project with Lee Jones. This EP received pretty lacklustre reviews when it first released but I’m struggling to see why. ‘Southbound’ is a solid club tool, and ‘Pink Flamingos’ really shines here, maybe more so with today’s musical trends than those a few years ago; the pads in the breakdown really are to die for.
Marcel Fengler – ‘Trespass (Aubrey Remix)’, from Remixes (2014)
Marcel Fengler’s debut album, Fokus, is one of my favourite electronic albums of recent times, and trespass was a stand out track on that release. As expected, Aubrey works his magic to make it even better. He streamlines down the original to make a precision club track primed for peak time. Particularly successful is how the spritely synths are saved till the latter part or the piece to create a crescendo. The rest of this remix package is top quality too.
Reagenz – ‘The Labyrinth’, from Berghain 05 (2011)
Another exclusive track for a Berghain mix, this time that of Marcel Fengler. His mix attempted to branch over into so many different genres, and I’m not sure it worked so well as a coherent whole, but this track from Reagenz does so well as a standalone. The duo, made up of Move D and Noah Sharp, don’t release that many tracks so this is a real treat. It might be overshadowed somewhat by Vril’s ‘UV’ on the other side, and maybe rightly so as this is a Berghain mix sampler. But this is my pick of the bunch, and not quite as lauded as the former.
Dinky – ‘Polvo’ from Take Me/Polvo (2011)
Dinky has been a regular at Panorama Bar for some time now and this is her second release on the label after appearing on the five year – Funf – compilation. ‘Polvo’ is excellent deep house with rough bass stabs, various fleeting vocal samples and a lovely piano interlude about two minutes in, which is gone almost as abruptly as it begins. The amount of elements used here could easily have resulted in a cluttered track trying to do too much, but she manages to pull it off with some style.