Anthems From The ’90s Club That Put Kassel On Germany’s Techno Map

If Kassel is known in Germany for a cultural contribution besides the art fair Documenta, then it’s the legacy of the techno club Aufschwung Ost and its successor, Stammheim (we included them both in our list of Germany’s 25 most historically important nightclubs). Both were located in a former textile factory building called Kulturfabrik Salzmann, which later served mainly as an art space. When Aufschwung Ost opened in 1994, it quickly established a national and international reputation that exceeded those of clubs in other middle-sized cities. The main resident DJs, the late Pierre Blaszczyk (a.k.a. DJ Pierre) and Mark Pecnik (a.k.a. DJ Marky, pictured above at Stammheim), built a dedicated local following with their state-of-the-art techno sound. They also managed to pull in every main guest DJ important in the techno scene, propelling Aufschwung Ost to the level of famous clubs in Berlin or Frankfurt—that is, until its lease ran out in 2002 and it had to close. We asked DJ Marky to recall some of the tunes that ruled the floor in both clubs.

.xtrak, “Facc” (Peacefrog 1995)

“This bleep track by Todd Sines, who regularly collaborated with Daniel Bell, was played a lot at our club. It had a minimal sound but a maximum impact on the floor. The hi-hats coming in at the first minute are just a dream.”

Jiri Ceiver, “Osiaic (Vogels Funky Sola Mix)” (Harthouse 1995)

“It’s very difficult to develop one’s own signature style. What Cristian Vogel and other artists such as Neil Landstrumm, Dave Tarrida, Si Begg and Justin Berkovi released in the ‘90s was definitely new and unprecedented. This track stands for the Brighton sound and its wonderful playfulness, which was very influential over the years for the resident DJs at Aufschwung Ost and Stammheim.”

DJ Hyperactive, “Venus” (Missile 1996)

“This is Chicago techno at its best. A peak-time banger that never failed to work on the big floor. You still hear it in the sets of well-known DJs.”

Daft Punk, “Rock ‘n’ Roll” (Virgin 1996)

“You just couldn’t bypass Daft Punk in 1996—but you didn’t want to anyway. Their Homework album included this track, and to this day it’s still one of the best house and techno albums for me. This album or other terrific releases on Thomas Bangalter’s label, Roulé, were constantly played on both our techno and floors.”

Wishmountain, “Radio” (Evolution 1996)

Sven Väth played this as a white label at our club in early 1996. It was way ahead of the official release date, so the whole crowd was unfamiliar with it. The energy this track built up on the floor in just a few minutes was just incredible. It was a miracle that the whole place did not just collapse at the last break. What Matthew Herbert created with this track is unique and it is perhaps THE quintessential Aufschwung Ost/Stammheim classic.”

Skull vs. ESP, “Power Hour” (Sounds 1996)

“A beautiful track by DJ Skull and Woody McBride. It came out on Sounds back then, which was a sublabel of Communique Records, a very popular label among the resident DJs that had several legendary releases. I liked to play it in the early morning hours.”

Green Velvet, “Destination Unknown” (Relief 1997)

“I could have picked ‘Flash’, ‘La La Land’ or other Green Velvet classics as well. The Relief and Cajual labels were essential to any of our parties. You can witness its effect at Green Velvet’s legendary gig at our club in 2001 here.”

Coldcut & Hexstatic, “Timber” (Ninja Tune 1998)

“This is an absolute DJ Pierre classic. Hard techno wasn’t the only style played at Aufschwung Ost and Stammheim, and this is a wonderful example of that. Particularly in the morning, the residents had enough time to experiment with different styles, and we did just that. Electro, big beat and cuts ‘n’ breaks—everything was tried and tested. That was just as much fun for the dancers as it was for us DJs.”

DJ Rolando, “Knights Of The Jaguar” (Underground Resistance 1999)

“A masterpiece by Rolando and Underground Resistance. This track on the big floor at 10 AM meant instant goosebumps for everybody. The light came through the windows, and together with the music, this track created a magical vibe each time it was played. It will still put a smile on the faces of those dancers today.”

DJ Rush, “One Two Zero” (Pro-Jex 1999)

“DJ Rush and Stammheim was love at first sight. The residents loved his mad beat constructions. There probably was not one set from us big-floor DJs without at least two tracks by him. And on the other hand, DJ Rush adored Stammheim. It was the best club for him back then.”

Aphex Twin, “Windowlicker” (Warp 1999)

“Aphex Twin was formative for his time, and ‘Windowlicker’ is just one example. I chose it because Pierre used to end long nights by playing this as his last record. It was always astonishing how much energy it could restore for one last time. So it is a classic forever connected to Pierre.”

Stefan Küchenmeister, “Soda Stream” (Hörspielmusik 2000)

“Stefan Küchenmeister was one of the Stammheim residents and he delivered one of the big Stammheims anthems with this track. Fortunately it was released on Hörspielmusik, the label I ran with Pierre, and thus we had a homemade Stammheim hit record.”

Wassermann, “W.I.R. (Sven Väth Remix)” (Profan 2000)

“Labels such as Profan, Kompakt and Auftrieb developed the sound of Cologne, which we residents really cherished back then. This remix was also one of the big Stammheim anthems.”

Vitalic, “La Rock 01” (International Deejay Gigolos 2001)

“What can you still say about this track? Pure energy on the dance floor! And one of my all-time favorites.”

Depeche Mode, “Dream On (Dave Clarke Remix)” (Mute 2001)

“Depeche Mode and Dave Clarke? That is the perfect combination and could only lead to a killer track. Dave Clarke knows how to transform an already great track into his own style, resulting in something even better—and without losing any of the source’s original greatness. This is a rare gift. A big peak-time number at Stammheim.”