DIARY
Tresor 25 - The Nostalgia Edition

Tresor 25 - The Nostalgia Edition

1. Tresor

In clubbing folklore past and present, Tresor has built its mystique by ensuring the ideal environment for those peace-love-unity-respect definitive rave values to be worked out to the fresh sound of Detroit.

Originally known as Ufo Club - backed by independent label and electronic underground epicenter Interfisch, Tresor team saw techno hitting its stride in the early 90s, and its evolution has been deeply entwined with the genre’s high paced ascension. Many things changed over time, both in terms of music and club anthropology.

Since Tresor has been around for quarter century to see it all, it is to this huge venerable institution that we’re turning our attention to get a glimpse of how does the now look as related to times past, as well as counting all that’s lost and gained as a result of orthodox techno purism entering an era of maturity.

2. Night 1 - Thursday

First night of the program, I launched into Tresor’s anniversary weekend challenge trying to reminisce less about the club’s legendary status and worry more about the overly packed line up, which had some personal heroes overlapping. I made my way into the Kraftwerk Halle to some beautiful, balearic krautrock with an industrial edge played by Berlin icon Gudrun Gut - the crowd was starting to aggregate - original 90s ravers and young nostalgic revivalists, the queue was merging killer looks and random destroyed textiles, moving slow enough to leave time for a mental rewind of all the expectations a Tresor themed weekend would compile - was it going to play along its techno legend avatar, which made it the subject of crazy youtube archaeology and anecdotes - and how much would the tourist-friendly policy contribute to the birth of a new rave dynamic?

At a first glance, whatever was going on sartorially didn’t look too far from the original 90s footage which was looping on a wall of TV screens, documenting Tresor’s earlier years. This video installation was a potential sneak peak into what a techno museum would boast on visual level, and even though at first I found those moving image memorabilia a bit silly, I had to admit by the end of the night that both the actions and the people on display, apart from becoming an involuntary exhibit, were having hell of a good time and that’s exactly what happened in the real and present moment, by the end of the opening night.

Being the first chapter of an extended feast which looked both disarming and threatening at a first timetable glance, Day 1 had enough potential to turn into an unpredicted monster rave, but enough rewarding acts on the first half of the bill, in order to not cause too much disappointed among those having to leave the program pretty early. And well, you guessed it, most of them didn’t. By 7 AM club OHM was packed, sweating out to DJ Stingray spinning some Drexciyan cuts while, crowd dynamic considered, a beautiful chaos was going on in the big room (ground floor of Kraftwerk Halle) - to live unpredictable techno by Sleeparchive and DJ Pete presenting TR - 101, respectively Mike Dehnert later on. Speak of Drexciya, one could relish to the vibes of Gerald Donald’s Arpanet performing live, earlier in the program.

Surprisingly, the supposed-to-be-mild opener turned to be one of the most intense festival days, be it due to the forbidden temptation of calling in sick the next day at work, or just because the first chapter of a four day ride is that blank slate containing an infinity possibilities, most of which would have to exhaust as soon as possible, crumbling to the pressure of a week’s accumulation of calories and energetic surplus.

Highlights: Reka’s wave driven opening set got the room full and the party started in Ohm very early – by that time Gudrun Gut was spinning some chill motoric machine music and the many people gathered there to hear it were still too few to fill in a whole floor of Kraftwerk Halle, and thus, they were trying to shake off that first-day-of-school kind of festive energy that comes with any opening of something that’s about to happen much.

One of the most anticipated moments of the festival brought Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald as Borderland, playing a chilling live set which started out with suspense and feeling, weaving ambient sequences into a laid back old school techno number, as summery and wet-sounded as Borderland can get. I find it had a lot of soul-feeding factor to it, besides technique, but the “serious music” vibe reminded me more of a concert of classical music than of an environment open to proper trashing.
The crowd was agitating to the beat regardless, while I came to terms with the idea that once influential and established, a music form will change radically even by remaining the same in itself, and timelessness is not a warrant of transcending time but just the other way around. I found it baffling that I would’ve rather sat down and watched the act eyes closed, as a performance, and envied for a second literally everyone who came there to rave physically to any music playing.

Right after, the night just unfolded manically as commuting between the live analog techno going on in Kraftwerk and the extended DJ Stingray jam, who was preceded by Helena Hauff showcasing her flawless flair to keep a dance-floor bouncing. It was more than anything an inspired succession.

Here’s a video glimpse showing DJ Stingray playing back to back with Juan Atkins - few people saw this happen, but it was probably the most talked about insta-evidence by the end of the night - as recorded by Vienna label Trust.

By the time Dennis Zegarnik started his closing set in Ohm the Sun was up - and the club was pitch dark, bathed in red lights and not yet empty. Hearing Zegarnik spin was a refreshing moment - after a night full of old school techno, house and analogue electronic, I thoroughly enjoyed some deep esoteric bass ambient cuts, the kind that make you spell Ohm’s letters as actually Aum.

3. Night 2 - Friday

The moment Dasha Rush stepped up on Friday, the night became a hyper-active succession of high paced bangers - this basically set the tone and parameters for what happened ever since. Hard-hitting and soul crushing four to the floor beats lined the perfect tempo for one’s body to hit that impressive, atom-splitting sound system. The sound set-up made Tresor’s anniversary more than a showcase of those big names that shaped the club’s sound and history, but also a demonstration of how pure, expensive techno is supposed to sound like given a right and well deserved technical treatment.

The night before I was meditating on the approach Tresor has taken over time, as being more committed to rave being this music-driven human bonding mindset, more than the exploration of a dark musical aestheticism. Being exposed to over eight hours of staggering dark techno made me change my mind. I’ll keep my conclusions that Tresor is the club institution whose owners are less likely to practice black magic - but that couldn’t matter less to the Hell breaking loose that night in Kraftwerk place.

Friday night might have come as a surprise, though, to those who focused on those hints misleading towards more cosmic expectations. Supergroup Automat (read an older interview with them, in the Attic, here) opened the night with a psychedelic blend of live guitars, percussion and electronics evoking the best of the industrial school of thought that originated this chance meeting between Jochen Arbeit (guitars) of Die Form and Einstuerzende Neubauten fame, Project Pitchfork drummer Achim Faerber and “Klangwerkstatt Berlin” founder Zeitblom. Further more, the mere presence of techno adept Donato Dozzy who usually specializes in slow and hypnotic experimental deviations could launch one into unrealistic demands of something other than 4/4 banging. Rare variations on that norm added up some playfulness which happened not a lot, but pretty well timed.

O/V/R, the alliance of UK techno heavyweights James Ruskin and Regis, delivered lusty drone textures in a rare live performance that got the narrative on a level deeper than just fun and feral banging. The appearance teased on the project’s comeback, as their latest EP, “Easy Prey”, will be out by the end of July on Ruskin’s Blueprint Records.

Surgeon followed, playing a nuanced live set with a tribal sound to it, probably the most memorable gig forcing a listener’s perception into instant mindfulness. The stacked up analogue tones flit between suspense, noise and space computer sounds, at a power-fueled, accelerating dancing pace.

Sven von Thülen, co-author of techno anthology Der Klang der Familie: Berlin, Techno and the Fall of the Wall closed the night with a refreshing and finely seamed set, a dug-up selection of classic gems and actual tones - the kind of mixture a well documented music buff can compile.

4. Day 3 - Saturday / Sunday

I’m sure this chapter might have felt differently to those who attended this demanding, mindless but not that mindless night as one singular continuum, and not as a continuation of two already sleepless nights of consistent workout - one which included techno legends live jamming day-to-night or doing back to back impromptu sessions as noted above.

Consider a twenty four hours time span laying ahead of sleep deprived you, featuring names such as Robert Hood, DJ Deep, Refracted, Acronym, Objekt and Daniel Bell performing both a crisp live session as DBX and a selection of tunes, early morning in the shadowy and heated up OHM room. One thing you will notice is, this is a crash course in electronic music origins, a mad techno historian’s master plan made real, a gargantuan outline of all you’ve ever wanted to rave to at Tresor ever since its mythical dawning days.

The other thing you’ll consider is that you’re only human so probably the furthest you can push it is hearing Robert Hood channel some heavenly vibes and enough energy for you not to crash and be kindly shaken off your hypnagogic business by those over-caring security people. You might as well encounter in that alternate reality that the club has become, that some club employees would start acting like they own the place, getting sexist, making trouble and yelling at women for not respecting the strict gender separation enforced by the Tresor club’s toilets. You may also realise that’s just a pretext for those folks to just exaggerate a norm that does not benefit anyone in particular, only to make it feed into their power trip (tip: Kraftwerk halle was perfectly even and fair, while nobody cared about your gender or your friends’, and nobody tried to shame you or tell you what to do for that reason).

Feeling slightly disappointed at this demise of unity, respect and inner peace in some particular situations, I carried on with watching absently the music, feeling odd, getting lost from my friends intentionally (sorry) and trying unsuccessfully to dance. But then, all hopes abandoned, the gods of rave started to send their friendly signals - such as getting a fresh bottle of cold water from someone I never met before, nor after, some guy giving free massages to fellow ravers that seemed drained, people sharing cigarettes - the space of Kraftwerk halle hosted in the end an all encompassing climate of acceptance, empathy and the state of being non-judgmental. Being an INFP personality type myself, I know it can be irreversible to get back in good spirits once knocked off - so it’s a matter of over-compensating circumstances when this happens.

Looking back at four packed techno days I think this human-level unconditional connection is a thing that legitimates Tresor as rave Mecca just as much as its fidelity to pioneering techno sounds and its incessant explorations of the field. Now we will never know how many of the people present were actually tourists, kids who learned about the early days of rave from youtube documentaries or friends of friends who ended up at this huge party - it’s certain that whoever stayed through the tough sounding program got integrated in this good vibe techno village, which makes it really ironic that those guys at the Tresor bathrooms were probably the only people at the party being all so bitter - probably just because they had to work in spite of enjoying the festival, I’m thinking I would have been jealous in their place for sure.




*photos courtesy of Tresor


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