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Berghain 08, Fiedel: techno that takes no shortcuts, prisoners

  • Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.

    Despite the existence of CD quality streaming tiers from Qobuz, Tidal and Deezer, 2018 remains tough going for the MP3-allergic techno fan. Drinking from the oceans of the Internet’s freely (and legally) available DJ mixes – as served up by the likes of Resident Advisor, XLR8R, Factmag, Secret Thirteen, not to mention the DJ themselves via Soundcloud and Mixcloud – can lead to a seriously nasty side effect: a deep thirst for better sound quality.

    Heard through a nice pair of headphones or loudspeakers, and contrary to the nonsense spouted by audiophile music snobs, a techno/house mix losslessly encoded to FLAC will sound a little better than the same techno/house mix lossy encoded to MP3. I’m ok with the latter but I’d prefer the former.

    In an ironic twist, it is often these same DJs who extoll the virtues of .wav files in plying their trade/art in clubs, many of which now feature sound systems good enough to out an MP3 source file before we’ve had time to reach for the lasers.

    Berlin’s Berghain didn’t become the most iconic techno club in Europe (sorry Fabric) because of its wide-arm welcome to the more extreme elements of the city’s ‘anything goes’ social spirit or because of its Stalinist architecture or, as some would say with a wink, door policy. It did so because of its commitment to consistently booking artists and DJs of high artistic standing and because of its Funktion-One sound system and its river deep bass and mountain high sound quality.

    In 2015, the club’s DJ mix series, issued by sister label Ostgun Ton, dropped its hitherto CD format and moved online: Panorama Bar 6 was mixed by Ryan Elliot; Berghain 7 was mixed by former Sandwell District dude, Function. Bye bye shiny disc, hello longer run time: 86 minutes for the Function mix – six too many for the CD.

    This weekend brings the announcement and availability of Berghain 8, mixed by resident DJ Fiedel. Clocking in at a whopping 2 hours and 20 minutes you’re gonna wanna set aside a whole morning to soak in this one.

    “The mix represents the diversity and dynamism swirling within my musical cosmos; which is filled with different places and epochs of Berlin club culture since the turn of the century, with all its unpredictable and strange facets.”

    In an ocean of DJ mix noise, why single out Berghain’s releases?

    The answer lies in how Ostgut Ton have sought to maximise the quality of the digital in spite of it being a free download: the Fiedel mix (like Function’s before it) is available as an MP3 stream but lossless .wav download (2.21Gb via Soundcloud). Good news for your ears, less so for your (mobile) data limit. The mix also comes with an accompanying downloadable .pdf that provides details on track ids and timings; in high quality too – 300dpi for those who wanna print it.

    Not necessarily a realistic thought but one can’t help but wonder why more DJ mixes aren’t released in lossless formats like FLAC and .wav.

    Further information: Ostgut Ton

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John is the editor of Darko.Audio, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is an occasional contributor to 6moons but has previously written pieces for TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile. John used to live in Sydney. Now he lives in Berlin.

    Follow John on YouTube, Vimeo and Twitter

    Further travels with the Bluesound Node 2