Ground Zero for Post Minimal? We dissect one of techno's most hyped labels of recent years, Vera and Alexandra's buoyant Melliflow.
One of the most vital sources of a new sound emanating from Berlin and Frankfurt, Melliflow is heavily influenced by late 1990s techno and electro. The label is lead by Vera and Alexandra and highly coveted on the vinyl scene where it quickly became a buy-on-sight imprint when it launched in 2016. Its series of parties at Club der Visionaera and Hoppetosse, have become one of Berlin's key reasons to visit for music fans glued to the frontline of dance music's ever changing landscape.
The late 90s Frankfurt scene was a particularly fertile plain for German dance music. Labels like Perlon had just started, ushering in a new wave of minimalism, and in this powerfully influential soup, a young Vera began finding her feet as a DJ.
Encouraged to take up DJing by local Frankfurt hero Meat, she was later entrusted with residencies at first HD800, nearby Mannheim’s hugely influential club at the turn of the Millennium, and Offenbach’s Robert Johnson, the riverside jewel in the German clubbing crown that has blossomed into one of the world’s most influential clubs. As a producer she has released on Perlon and collaborated with Ricardo Villalobos and Mayaan Nidham as Mara Trax and has released on labels like Perlon and Hello? Repeat. A key part of the hugely popular ‘Frankfurt House’ scene of the late 2000s, her production took a back seat as her gig diary became busier.
These days she’s regarded as one of Germany’s most respected selectors, splitting her time between running Melliflow, throwing parties and DJing for Europe’s most discerning dancefloors.
To hear a 'Frankfurt House' era Ibiza Voice podcast from Vera, click here.
Every country has its summer of love, the time when rave culture takes hold and bewitches a nation’s youth culture. For Romania, that time was the early 2000s although it maybe lasted a little longer than a summer and stretched between two sounds.
The first wave was instigated by UK tribal and progressive house. Like many young Romanians, Alexandra found herself thrust into the rave maelstrom of the time, partying hard on the dancefoor of clubs like Krystal which thanks to the visits of Ricardo Villalobos and Circoloco in the early 2000s, birthed the country’s infatuation with minimal. A new generation of homegrown stars lead by the a:rpia:r crew shot to the top of the European scene as the continent began to gravitate around Romania’s Sunwaves festival.
After a time working for Romania’s ClubbingMag, Alexandra jumped ship to work with Sunwaves, a move that was to further nestle her closer to the heartbeat of the scene and build the contacts, experiences and influences that would lead to her becoming a DJ and later moving to Berlin. She is now one of the continent's favourite, slow burning, up and coming selectors with a broad sound palette punctuated by abstract melodies and broken rhythms.
There’s a new sound emanating from the world’s capital of rave. But is it a new genre? Or a post-modern hybrid of different genres colliding into one?
Springing from Berlin’s Club der Visionaere scene that served as a Ground Zero for minimal in the mid 2000s, this new post minimal variant is lead by the club kids of that time. One such club kid is Melliflow artist Binh. Back then, the Düsseldorf native made influential trips, from his home town to Berlin, for many legendary minimal parties before moving to the city.
Clocking in a disturbing number of hours DJing at CDV, he’s one of the key poster boys and girls for this new variant of techno that sounds like a natural response to the kind of minimal that dominated the city in the previous decade. Pitching the BPMs into the 130s, it takes the bleeps and squelches of electro, the raw drum machine sequences of early house and the plain weirdness of obscure late 90s vinyl only techno and moulds them into a new, futuristic creation.
At times, it can sound like a panic attack recorded to vinyl, at others, like the fizzing circuits of a heart broken robot. It owes its existence to the surging popularity of Discogs digging culture, as best championed by key tastemakers like Nicolas Lutz and pop up shop and DJ collective, The Ghost. In Melliflow, the sound has fostered one of its key homes alongside other labels like Franfkurt’s hardworksoftdrink and Traffic.
Sardinian producer Luca Cara made his debut on Binh’s label ‘Time Passages' in 2015. He met Binh, who has also released on Melliflow by chance after moving into the same building as him in Berlin. His second release landed on Melliflow in 2016 propelled by the ultra strange quirky funk of lead track ‘Strange Experience.’ Sounding like a synthesizer attempting to teleport into the future, it perfectly laid down the lo-fi synth-laden musical blueprint of what was to follow on the label.
Eight years of summers in Ibiza, or a time spent hanging out in the illegal rave scene in London in the early 2000s were no doubt a heavy influence on his sound. His name aptly suits the sci-fi sounds of his tracks, even if it derived from a humble origin. “One day, while I was travelling, I ran out of clean shirts and decided to buy a new one,” he told XLR8R in 2016. “That t-shirt had “Spacetravel” written on it, so the day after I bought it, it suddenly occurred to me that I liked the sound of Spacetravel. So basically that’s how my artist name was born—from a t-shirt.”
Fernando Zapico, better known as Z@p, hails from one of techno's most recently hyped global outposts of Montevideo, in Uruguay. He's been DJing since the early 2000s, long before a recent Resident Advisor feature cast a light on his hometown's vibrantly underground scene, but has moved to new heights following a tight connection that has arisen between Montevideo and Berlin. For a scene that shies away from anthems, the EP's A2, 'Diamante,' on his Sonic Utopia EP is an irrepressibly hooky track that refuses to hide in the shadows.
Melliflow’s psychedelic visual style is a key part of the label’s identity. Russian artist and Berlin resident, Anastasia Chulanova, takes care of every release and party flyer. Her psychedelic style uses a mixed-media approach combining photos of objects with geometrical shapes and bright neon colours that look influenced by iconic 1980s sci-fi film Tron and games like Pong that were themselves influenced by disco dancefloors in the 1970s.
The label began life as a party two years before releasing records. Taking the reins of Club der Visionaere for the first time in 2014, Vera and Alexandra began a crucial relationship with the respected riversite party spot that branched out into winter time parties at the club’s sister venue, Hoppetosse.
Twice a year, the crew joins forces with Ukraine’s leading bastion of quality music, Closer for what is fast becoming one of the city’s most revered, new party traditions. The sessions usually run for a 36 hours exploring the inner and outer reaches of both brands thoroughly and is renowned for inviting a cast of top shelf DJs, regardless of whether they are lesser-known or luminaries of the underground.
To follow Melliflow on Facebook click here.
Ibiza Voice Classic Podcast :: Vera