Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne … try Dresden. Rauschen im Tal, a documentary of the emergence of Dresden electronic music, struck a nerve and sold out theaters. And now it’s free to watch (in German, with English subtitles).
Here’s the original trailer for the film, though you get mainly disembodied male voices there:
From the producers’ description:
The noise of a city opens up only to those who are completely immersed. In the early 90s, a new sound appeared. It was an uncompromising electrical noise. Someone said, “This is techno!” At that time, a multitude of people – around this new sound – discovered a new cosmos. The city’s eclectic party life made Dresden a Techno stronghold in the East. Since then, an active music scene developed, an almost 30-year-old culture of electronic music in Saxony’s capital with more than 20 record labels and about two dozen dance clubs.
A new cosmos, indeed.
Also nice – the music takes long breaks to just play tracks, with track IDs – plus some nice interpretive dancing. It’s ideal chill-out watching, a documentary on music that has actual music in it. (The lineup is pretty boy heavy; I’m curious to get feedback from my German neighbors on that and other elements. But it’s still a great introduction.)
This quote: “The best parties I ever played, as far as Europe is concerned, is in Dresden – because I never had to … conform myself to a certain style.” -Melvin Oliphant III. Cough, Berlin, cough. Something to consider.
The full documentary makes a nice watch for exploring the darker corners of Germany’s electronic underground. And of course, as usual, the answer to where “techno” as we now know it came from – Germany or Detroit (or Latin America, or wherever you like) is – yes. All of that. Pairing that often wild and disconnected German identity with the far-off pioneers of America’s scene (and progenitors of ‘techno’ as genre) makes that experience richer. Now as many of those Detroit legends haunt the streets of Berlin, perhaps it’s the perfect time to understand the world of Germany’s own fringe culture, and the unprecedented big bang as a nation was put back together from two pieces, against the collapse of an entire political-economic regime and the global ripples it caused. It says something about Americans that the people pushed out of our own culture were able to find new opportunities and kindred spirits on the other side of the world.
And, actually, maybe the best way to escape techno as history museum is to actually learn the history.
The film, from creators Roman Schlaack, Denis Wrobel, and Thamash Kestawitz, runs just over an hour and a half.
Das Rauschen einer Stadt erschließt sich nur demjenigen der ganz eintaucht. Anfang der 90er Jahre tauchte ein neues Geräusch auf. Es war ein kompromissloses elektrisches Geräusch. Irgendjemand sagte: „Das ist Techno!“ Damals eröffnete sich für eine Vielzahl von Menschen – um diesen neuen Klang herum – ein eigener Kosmos. Der vielseitige Partyalltag ließ Dresden zu einer Techno-Hochburg im Osten avancieren. Seitdem entwickelte sich eine aktive Musikszene, eine fast 30 Jahre existierende Kultur der elektronischen Musik in der Sächsischen Hauptstadt mit über 20 Plattenlabels und gut zwei dutzend Tanzklubs.