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Mixed in Berlin, April 2018
(78:42, 180 MB, 320 kbps MP3)
Style: Fresh techno, acid and electro
Direct link to the mix:
01. Antonio – Akaw (Unto)
02. Randomer – Foghorn (Dekmantel)
03. The Exaltics – Slow (Mechatronica)
04. Hardfloor – Rotten Scoundrels On Acid (Balkan Vinyl)
05. DJ Pierre – The Drive (I Love Acid)
06. Lenson & Stranger – Paling Trax 001 (Side A1) (Paling Trax)
07. Mella Dee – Movement (Warehouse Music)
08. Boston 168 – Blue Bridge (Attic Music)
09. Regal – Action (Involve)
10. NoFace – Warrior Charge (Jericho One)
11. Posthuman – Bringin’ The News (I Love Acid)
12. Metrist – Nos Ossos (Neighbourhood)
13. Dez Williams – Xen (Mechatronica)
14. DJ Overdose – Regeneration (Craigie Knowes)
15. Randomer – Smokin (Long Island Electric Systems)
16. Blawan – 993 (Ternesc)
17. Herva – Slam The Laptop (Tresor)
18. Toms Due – Stratum (Etruria Beat)
19. Stranger – Highest Sense (Monnom Black)
20. Stranger – Picklehead (Self Reflektion)
21. Anetha – Leftover Love (Blocaus Series)
22. Dax J – The Quest (Electric Deluxe)
23. Planet Rhythm – 303 003 (Planet Rhythm)
24. Regal – Lesstroboscopic (Involve)
25. Dax J – Utopia (EarToGround)
Let’s get this out of the way first, the title of the mix was taken directly from this very interesting post by Simon Reynolds, the title of which was a reference to a song from hipster sketch comedy show Portlandia (see above).
In his essay, Simon Reynolds was talking about how in Berlin a particular type of musical world – ‘proper techno’ played on vinyl by stern-faced men in concrete rooms – lives on in a way that is not so much the case in other places. And much of the techno that makes it to vinyl, and that you can sample on a visit to stores like Kreuzberg’s legendary Hard Wax, is not exactly dissimilar to what was released in the golden days of the 90’s. Maybe there’s just a limited number of possible ideas for this kind of genre?
In any case, this is not such a problem for me! I am 37, so like many aging men I have a powerful nostalgia for the music of my youth – or indeed new music that reminds me of such. 😉
Hence, I have been sucked into buying new techno, acid and electro on vinyl over the last few years. And so I had the idea to just throw this mix together – and thrown together it is! I just pulled out a big bunch of tunes, hit record and went off. I am pretty happy with the results, and I hope you are too.
However, that’s not all I want to write about! I’ve now been in Berlin for four and a half years and I see a double meaning in the title of this mix. Berlin has become pretty much the international hipster capital, and this has led to a huge influx of people in recent years. Obviously I am part of this too, but the situation has accelerated greatly since we arrived in 2013. What’s interesting is that so many people seem to come here basically because they think it is cool, or because of its image as an easy-going and tolerant place where all things are possible and accepted. The dream of the 90’s indeed! I see so many posts in the various Berlin foreigner Facebook groups along the lines of ‘I really want to move to Berlin, but I don’t speak German or have any skills. Will it be easy?’ Maybe 15 years ago you could just show up, hang out, and live cheaply, but not any more.
Unfortunately, so many people have turned up in recent years that the reality no longer matches the dream. Rent prices have skyrocketed in recent years, while wages are still quite low compared to other ‘global cities’. And this is especially the case in the core districts that are super hipster like Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, and Neukoelln, or in Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg (which have both now jumped the fence from ‘hipster’ to simply ‘wealthy’) – so many foreigners are moving to Berlin for the classic ‘Berlin experience’ that they refuse to live anywhere else in the city, which means that rents in these districts (which used to be quite poor) have increased dramatically in only a matter of years, even compared to the city as a whole.
So this is a paradox – so many people are moving here to chase a dream that they are destroying that dream. Am I part of it? I guess so, in a way, although we live in Wilmersdorf, which is and has been a quiet middle-class area, so we aren’t involved in ‘gentrification’. But certainly our tastes help sustain the kind of hipster businesses that are transforming the city – good ethnic restaurants, cafes, organic food stores, etc. So we are certainly part of this process.
This is not to say that life here isn’t nice – it certainly is! Just that the combination of easygoing lifestyle, cheap rents, and relatively limited money pressures has broken down. Plus so many more people means that things are just more crowded. For instance, we stopped going to Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg because it became a total zoo, and life is too short for those kind of crowds. I’m lucky in that I have a good job, in-demand technical/business skills and we arrived at the tail end of Berlin being relatively cheap – our per square meter rent in Berlin when we arrived was 60% lower than what we were paying in London! Even though London remains much more expensive, you can’t find such a massive difference in rents now.
What is clear, though, is that Berlin is headed in the same direction as London, Paris, and New York, even if it will take longer to get there. The inner city will become wealthier and wealthier, and the poor will be pushed to the outskirts (this process is already well underway here, although of course not so far advanced). Trying to make a living in any kind of creative way – as an artist or a musician or a writer – will become more and more challenging, as creative work requires lots of unstructured time for practicing and learning, and a situation where rents are so high that you must work multiple jobs just to keep the lights on and a roof over your head is not really conducive to developing yourself as an artist. Just compare New York in the 1970’s and 1980’s to now; yes, the city was broke and crime was high, but just in music alone you had disco, punk, and, above all, hip-hop: three epoch-altering musical scenes with deep roots in just one city. What’s happening in music in NYC today? Of course there is still music happening, but it would be hard to argue that it’s the same now, right? And part of that is that to become a musician you need to serve a long apprenticeship out of the public eye, where you learn your craft. If you don’t have wealthy parents, how much time can you realistically devote to developing your musical skills if you are in your early 20’s in 2018 New York City? Likely not very much, which has a knock-on effect on the cultural life of the city.
Sadly, Berlin is now headed this way – will it still be such a culturally vital city in ten years time? Probably not.
I guess I’m just lucky that I’ve been able to experience it at this moment. We’ll see what happens in the future.