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Berlin's revered underground label celebrates a decade of life with 'Zehn'

Ostgut Ton
Ostgut Ton

Ostgut Ton has a lot to live up to. The Berlin-based label is the progeny of the infamous Berghain/Panorama Bar and it has an invisible bar to meet that’s set as high as the dark, steel-beamed ceilings that loom above the floors of its parent club. By all measures, Ostgut Ton has met its own lofty standards with the release of ‘Ostgut Ton | Zehn. Aptly named ("zehn" is the German word for ten), the album celebrates the label’s 10 years spent churning out underground gems, with 30 new cuts delivered by each of the artists on its roster.  

A highly respected imprint, Ostgut Ton is home to Berghain/Panorama Bar’s residents and serves as their creative haven — a familial devotion to quality, development and success. Listening to ‘Ostgut Ton | Zehn’ from start to finish is a delicious experience. Each track is meticulously placed, a perfect compliment to that which comes before and after. It is digestible, arranged to allow its listeners to savor each piece with ease. Not just another collection of the decade’s most lauded records, the compilation is fresh and diverse, listenable as the soundtrack for a day of work as much as it is the soundtrack for a night out. 

Studded with familiar names like Ben Klock and Marcel Dettmann, it is equally ripe with lesser-known talent — particularly in the States, where the likes of Steffi, Virginia, Nick Höppner and even Marcel Fengler, are buried deep beneath the excrement of commercial EDM. There are tracks to satisfy cravings for rolling techno, as in the addictive ‘Roller feat. Function (Len Faki Interpretation)’ by L.B. Dub Corp and Ryan Elliott’s ‘Smith Lake’; there are innovative, textured soundscapes like ‘The Laundrette’ by S/D and lest your heart need some warmth, the hypnotic breakbeats of ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ by Barker & BaumeckerOstgut Ton | Zehn’ is a three-hour journey through a variety of sounds that reflect the label’s roots and its future. 

Label manager Jenus Baumecker-Kahmke took some time out to tell DJ Mag USA what that journey is all about… 

Aside from marking an anniversary, how is this compilation special? What does it represent?  

The 30 tracks on the compilation feature each current individual producer on the Ostgut Ton roster, and a large project like Ostgut Ton | Zehn enables us to give a full overview of the talent assembled on the label. All the artists had complete freedom as to what they could do for the compilation. Of course, we discussed our ideas ahead of the production period and it was important to us to include all new music. Most of the material was produced especially for the compilation and we feel each of the tracks would have been strong enough as a lead track for a solo EP by the respective artist. The concept of the ten 12”s of the vinyl box pays respect to this by giving each track enough space on the record to allow for a maximum sound quality pressing. 

Is it a feeling that drives your selection or something else? 

“The artists really wanted to offer something special for our 10th anniversary. There was a lot of exchange between the artists prior to and at the production stage, and a general feeling for the intended sound was emerging. Each artist contributed something showing their particular strengths and style. The compilation kind of fell into place all by itself after this stage. We’re lucky that we’re working with strong individuals all with their own sound … The final challenge was to create a visual concept for the release that would match the variety of the music. For the box and the ten record sleeves, we decided to ask eleven different visual artists to contribute an equally rich palette of different styles that would unite under one theme. A somewhat unusual idea at first, but this actually worked out amazingly well.” 

What sensation are you looking to impart with this comp? 

“We hope that the compilation works on several levels: Firstly, of course, we produce dance music for today’s techno and house clubs and we hope DJs will appreciate this and play their favorites in their sets. But the compilation also touches on other genres of electronic music. The three CDs have been sequenced in a way to take the listener on a journey through the many different types of sound we have become known for, but also offer some surprises over the course of more than three hours of music.”


The album’s artists are Berghain/Panorama Bar residents. What makes an artist "right" for the label or the club? 

Our relationships with our artists are formed inside our club. We have a personal connection with everyone on our roster; we drink together and party together, we all share a passion for music and are all working towards the same goal of creating a quality sound — be it on the individual records or with our music as a whole on the label and inside the club. It’s all based on a feeling of mutual understanding and respect for each others talents. 

How has the Ostgut Ton sound evolved over the years and how is that sound reflected in Ostgut Ton | Zehn? 

Our music is closely linked to our club. The music on the dancefloor is constantly evolving as DJs work on their own styles, skills and ideas. The dancefloor always likes to hear that latest new track, but at the same time some classic tracks slowly emerge as being timeless. When a track is new it’s difficult to predict how it will fare in the distant future. We try to combine those two elements – the here and now and our knowledge of electronic music history. Furthermore many of the Ostgut Ton artists develop different sides to their production activities over time and touch upon different styles. Although we are rooted in club culture we like to think that we’re open to all kinds of different ideas and we hope that each record we release has its own unique sound. 

Ostgut Ton will be re-releasing the first four 12"es from the 'Zehn' box-set individually, in two batches: 'Eins', 'Zwei' on February 12th and 'Drei', 'Vier' on March 4th. The other six 12"es will follow throughout 2016. The album is also available in digital format