Ellen Allien - The Other Side: Berlin
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Ellen Allien
The Other Side: Berlin

Less a mix (as the release isn't really blended together like a true mix) than a compilation of some of her favorite tracks of the moment, The Other Side: Berlin finds Ellen Allien showing off some varied taste in putting together a solid batch of tracks that runs the range from minimal house to early punk to deconstructed electronic pop. She even opens the release with a German version of "Heroes" (entitled "Helden") by the Mr. David Bowie himself, setting the stage for a nicely curated seventy-minutes.

After the aforementioned track, the album slips right into "In White Rooms" by Booka Shade, and that electro-touched track leads perfectly into "Konigin" by Quarks, a gem of a female-led electronic pop song that came out clear back in 1999, but has sadly flown under my radar until now. One of the more odd entries on the release is the fun and aptly-titled "Berlin," from the early 70s punk rock group Wayne County & The Electric Chairs. It's obscurities like this latter track (the group actually never released a single album inside their home country of the United States) that make the release worth checking out.

Allien touches on dub and hip-hop with tracks from both Rhythm & Sound and the excellent "Bombing Bastards" from Terranova, which features Tricky on vocals and reminds one of why he was such an exciting artist for awhile. Elsewhere, the release is filled out with a slew of minimal electronic tracks by big names such as Plastikman, Monolake (both fellow Germans), and the great Ichso from Ricardo Villalobos, which doesn't seem to suffer at all from repeated spins. Oh, and for good measure, she even includes "Way Out" from her collaborative release Orchestra Of Bubbles with Apparat.

The DVD portion of the release is actually a really big part of the release, with over two hours of content. During the first section (which is easily the more interesting), Ellen Allien walks around Berlin and basically shows off her favorite places in the city. She goes clothes shopping, has a nice lunch (with Richie Hawtin), visits a record store, an insane analogue electronic instrument shop (that has a theremin by the front door to warn the owners people are coming in), and gets a massage. She also goes to a graffiti-covered park with Modskeletor and gets a couple snacks along the way.

The footage is pretty padded out, with lots of shots of Berlin and random people walking around, but at the same time it provides a good overview of the giant city. It's all set to music from different albums by Allien, and she's a charming host as she switches between speaking German and English and looks like she's having a good time showing off the city where she lives. The other segments on the release focus in on more specific travel-related information (shops, accommodations, nightlife), and are all again set to Bpitch Control-related music while being host-less. If you've never been to Berlin, it might very well be enough stuff to make you want to swing through on your next European jaunt (oh if it were that easy). In combination with the outstanding tracks on the CD portion of the release, the DVD content is plenty enjoyable for one watch while maybe helping round out an itinerary if you're ever in Berlin and want to hit the hot spots.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2007-04-12 21:07:11