Nick Höppner Folk Ostgut Ton
Far from the depths of pulverising, punishing and altogether shuddering techno, Folk may be the most refreshing release on the revered Berlin label in recent times. Höppner’s deity status as an electronic institution in the pantheon of Berghain/Panorama Bar heroes feels integral to the release, considering he used to manage Ostgut Ton and has been a mainstay on their dance floors since the beginning. It bears little surprise to see his debut album excelling on this platform.
The surprise here, then, lies in the wonderful fluidity of the music that directly conflicts the accusation of facelessness often levelled at Ostgut. Showing emotion has never been the primary objective of those who run the club and the label, its reverence being built on an austere approach to music and door policy that, despite detractors, doubles up as part of its wider appeal. This is part of what makes Folk such an essential release in their catalogue to date.
Höppner’s production on Folk marries a pensive outlook with lightness of touch that gives the record real warmth. Both the title track and closer No Stealing are prime examples of this, with many elements, including vocals, deployed fully but never feeling overbearing or crowded. Even the punchier numbers, such as the amusingly titled Rising Overheads (you can tell he used to be a label boss), still hug rather than hurt you. In fact it’s the maximalism achieved on Folk that might be the record’s most defining characteristic, achieved with a sound that owes as much to the swirling, heady progressive sounds of the 90s as anything else, brought right up to date by a man who knows the world’s most progressive dancefloor inside out.