Credit to the producers involved for contributing to such an ambitious artistic endeavour, but unfortunately the music of Masse doesn’t hold much merit in isolation from the physicality of the dance it was written for.
This release is not at all what you might expect from five heavyweights of German techno and its review doesn’t really belong on these pages. Masse is a three-part score written for a ballet performed by the renowned Staatsballett Berlin at a former power station next door to the German capital’s legendary Club Berghain. By all accounts the show was as spectacular as it sounds.
Examined out of context – separate to the choreography – Masse is difficult to judge; ‘good’ or ‘bad’ won’t do. The compositions are certainly more minimal techno than classical but you’d struggle to dance to them unless, of course, you’re classically trained.
Schwarz’s third probably works best for your listening pleasure, opening with Spanish guitar and pizzicato strings that soon take flight above atmospheric strings. It sets a tone not dissimilar to the intro of his fine contribution to the DJ-Kicks series. Before too long, this sound has morphed completely into a heady combo of marching drums and the sort of throbbing bass that underpins a typical Interpol or Joy Division track.
‘Menuett’, the part overseen by Marcel Dettmann and Frank Wiedemann, is on a more ambient tip, building over 20 minutes to a crescendo of wispy filtered snares and wind chimes. The final section, entitled ‘EVOLVE’ and produced by Phillip Sollmann and Marcel Fengler (AKA DIN), progresses from a solo piano to tribal drums and circling strings without ever really engaging.
BY DAVID WILD
Masse is out now on OstGut Ton.