Saturday, July 08, 2006

Berlin Music Stores -- the update

I swore that I wouldn't buy vinyl on this trip and I managed to keep that promise to myself. The planned Hard Wax swingby never materialized for unrelated reasons, I blame the World Cup. "Blame".

I spent a lot of time in Kreuzberg during the six days I was there, which was enough time for Spacehall to join my pantheon of Berlin music stores. Oddly enough, the further you walk into the store, the greater the riches become. The front is devoted to an unexceptional selection of indie rock, but a few steps further back is one of the grandest collections of rare early-to-mid 90's techno and rave compilations I've ever seen. The electronic and ambient CD sections are solid, but they pale next to the stunning quality of vinyl in the store's back room. Besides a top notch selection of new records, they keep a dazzling array of prominent techno artists perpetually in stock -- where else can you be sure to see about 30-40 records by the likes of Surgeon or Richie Hawtin or Speedy J, covering their entire careers and containing several rare gems?

With its expanded space (and vinyl stock), Dense easily remains on top of the Berlin heap. Every second inside that store is another second of trying to not look too conspicuous while my money burns a hole in my pocket. I managed to escape with about 40% of my remaining cash and CDs by Sensational, Final, plus a few Berlin noise/improv artists. Onward to Neurotitan, which is even more dominated by comics and artwork than I remember. In concerted symmetry, its CD stocks felt even more dominated by obscure and local noise.

A few words about the Saturday night clubbing experience: after wandering through roads that were paved over with bottles (fallout from the Germany vs Sweden celebration) we were denied entry to a Perlon night at Watergate (f. Luciano, Zip, Sammy Dee) on account of the bouncer's dissatisfaction at the guy/girl ratio inside the club. Modeselektor, Plaid, and Jega at Club Maria made for a fine Plan B. Despite the mountains of recent hype, Modeselektor sounded like the 3rd or 4th coming of Heckmann at times. On the night's rankings, they trailed far behind Plaid's thick, tuneful anthems as well as Jega's snowstorm of dnb and Confield-era Autechre-ish beats. Jega's onslaught brought the intensity of black metal, and in that vein, he played for only 30-40 minutes, followed by a near-instant crash of energy on my part.

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