P. Diddy may have, ahem, “invented the remix,” but now Berlin’s Vakant label is turning the concept on its head – using the remix to (re)-invent the label itself. Vakant R is the newest addition to the imprint’s crowded house; alongside the parent label and audio-visual offshoot Vakant X, Vakant R rounds out the minimalist trinity with a stunning debut release featuring Mathias Kaden and Onur Özer going head-to-head in a no-holds-barred battle of the remixes.
On the A-side, Kaden, well known for an accelerating string of productions and remixes on labels like Vakant, Freude Am Tanzen, Sender and Traum – both solo and as one half of Hemmann & Kaden – tackles Onur Özer’s ´Twilight´, from Vakant 008. Where the original was a long, psychedelic burner filled to bursting with meaty snares and eerie chords that dissipated like noxious fumes, Kaden subtly reshapes it into a streamlined groove that corkscrews ahead with intricate drum programming and sly atmospheric bursts. Bumping, burbling and bounding across the spectrum like a supercharged ping-pong ball, the details – and in particular, that rubbery, insistent bassline – show Kaden at the height of his people-moving capabilities, even as spooky washes of color work like an undercurrent of doubt, tugging everything into a murky netherzone perfect for programming in pre-dawn sets.
On the flip, Özer – another Vakant and Freude Am Tanzen alumnus with a fast expanding rep, thanks in part to his main-stage appearance at this summer’s Loveparade – tries his hand at Kaden’s ´Pentaton´, the lead cut from Vakant 007. Where the original was a crisp exercise in hardscrabble drums, channelling African percussion through minimal techno at its most hyperkinetic, Özer piles on the dread with a hazy scrim of Pan Sonic-like oscillator swoops, industrial-grade white noise and oily, penumbral chords. This is true horror-core – gothic techno at its most seductively gloomy, kitted out with ominous plucked strings and drums as rattly as a box full of bones. Özer proves that the dead can dance as he works all these elements into a jacking house pattern that commands your body to move even as it’s tying knots in your gut. If John Carpenter ever makes a horror film set in Berlin’s vampire-like club scene, he’ll know where to find the soundtrack.