Der Klang der Familie - Connecting Berlin, Techno and the Fall of the Wall in an Essential Read
09 Nov 2020
On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and the lives of East and West Germans separated by years of Cold War division were thrust together overnight. The sudden change to the cityscape, a strange new world of free-moving neighbours, presented an opportunity for the youth of the day. A myriad of spaces became available to discover, explore, and yes, party in. Men and women, straight and gay, from East and West Berlin, were coming together in an exciting new time of unification which was also fostering an equally exciting new soundtrack - the sound of techno.
The book Der Klang der Familie by Felix Denk and Sven von Thülen chronicles the fascinating development of music and culture that rapidly rose out of that time of change in Berlin and is a perfect read on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, 31 years ago today. The immense impact of the event on Berlin and European society cannot be understated. But what is really interesting is the role the new and evolving musical movement of techno played in shaping a foundational cultural identity in Berlin. From its origins in Detroit, techno jumped across the ocean to a city newly reunified and open to form a sort of symbiotic relationship. The burgeoning scene continued the growth and spread around the world of the music and helped establish Berlin's place throughout the years as a major epicenter of the global scene.
I cannot say enough about Der Klang der Familie which uses an oral history format to reveal tons of stories from interviews with many key players from the time. What started as a project to document the history of pivotal Berlin club Tresor soon branched out to encompass other influential parties and clubs like E-werk and UFO, Berlin techno music history and the common thread of their origin stories became clearly tied to the fall of the Wall. The book connects elements of underground dance music, rave & club culture and the greater societal and geopolitical changes in Germany and the world into a document of foundational culture. Essential read to say the least!
Der Klang der Familie (The Sound of Family) gets its title from a track released on Tresor Records in 1992 by 3Phase featuring Dr. Motte. The book has been translated from the original German into many languages including the very successful English edition which was released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Here we are at the 31st anniversary and I finally got myself a copy ;)
Cover photo: English edition of Der Klang der Familie book