Review: Marcel Dettmann - Dettmann II


'Dettmann II', the Berghain minimal magician’s sophomore album released on Berghain label Ostgut Ton, is a subtle step up from his debut effort ('Dettmann'), this time containing more well-rounded offerings and more spacious sound design, along with your usual dancefloor-oriented loop techno. Add in some noteworthy guest collaborations (Shed, Levon Vincent and Emika) and the album is well worth a listen.

Even so, I’ll admit that I didn’t take to 'Dettmann II' quite so immediately. In ‘Throb’, a single kick drum provides the only percussion instrument in a track that otherwise relies heavily on undulating sounds and delay effects. At first I was ambivalent – but a second listen convinced me that this economical use of instruments does work here, and even stands out as somewhat genius against the more typical club numbers on the album.

Indeed, the weaker parts are oddly not the ones designed for home-listening. The thumping number that is ‘Ductil’ for example, would probably sit quite well in the middle of a DJ set. But take it out of that context and it’s a track that, despite its urgency, doesn’t quite head anywhere, missing the subtle snap, crackle and pop of the other tracks. Tracks like 'Lightworks' which, in my opinion anyway, is minimal done right, is light, but also deep and catchy, with little sound nuggets to look out for along the way.

‘Soar’ is yet another standout – A long journey on a night train: oftentimes mellow, occasionally filled with intrigue, and ever-chugging towards its destination. While ‘Outback’ (co-produced with Levon Vincent) holds our attention with dark, man-machine type sounds, juxtaposed with high-pitched, mecha siren-like wails, all layered over plenty of cinematic grandeur. Just really lovely.

Finally, ‘Seduction’ reminds me of the dancing Oracle scene in the movie 300, only re-imagined with a techno pulse and the breathy, ethereal vocals of Berlin chanteuse Emika.

All in all, certainly not a bad album – but as Dettmann’s work marries minimalism with attention to detail, decent headphones (or a really good sound system), plus a discerning ear, are all good things to have when listening to 'Dettmann II'.

01. Arise
02. Throb
03. Ductil
04. Shiver
05. Lightworks
06. Soar
07. Outback
08. Seduction feat. Emika
09. Radar
10. Corridor
11. Stranger
12. Aim