Steffi Yours & Mine

[Ostgut Ton; 2011]

Styles: deep house, Berlin house
Others: Nick Höppner, Prosumer, Marcel Dettmann, Kassem Mosse

The story of Steffi is a familiar one. In fact, it almost seems preordained. Steffi got her start over 10 years ago as a DJ, label owner, and party promoter in Amsterdam, a city with a voracious appetite for dance music and nightlife. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, as they say. After a number of successful residencies and curated nights, she took her sophisticated, tasteful talents to Berlin where she’s established herself as a pillar in the embarrassment of riches that is the Berlin techno scene. As far as the ideal career arc of a techno DJ goes, Steffi has certainly managed to check virtually all of the boxes.

It’d be easy then to discount Steffi as merely a functional cog in the larger machine of the dance music world, much like both the sleek, refined house music that she creates and the classically-informed nature of her live sets, which often veer between the ever solid stylistic benchmarks of Detroit techno and Chicago house. To do so, however, would be to ignore the intrinsic value of reliability and execution within said world. You don’t have to continually drop summer anthems to have value; in fact, such reaching for the stars has the pitfall of potentially failing to fulfill expectations. In Steffi’s case (and in the cases of so many other solid producers and DJs), consistency is the key. If you promise only reliable pleasures, then its assuredly easier to build trust with your audience.

Yours & Mine is Steffi’s full-length debut and it’s surprisingly assured, if only for her general inexperience in the production realm. But what’s unsurprising is the intelligently chic and restrained deep house that’s present on the nine tracks presented here. As a resident of Panorama Bar — the more relaxed, house-oriented upstairs half of the Berghain super-club in Berlin — Steffi’s tracks are designed with the space in mind. “Yours” is the standout single here, the most recognizable and perhaps most useful track to be added to a DJ’s arsenal. It’s cool and sexy thanks to sultry vocals from Virginia, but it succeeds in being much more than car commercial music. With “I want you” as the constant refrain among utterances of “You do me right,” it fits right in with Berghain’s libertine modus operandi and will surely aid the love lives of club-goers.

Traditional deep house is always on offer throughout the course of Yours & Mine, but Steffi’s style is a bit more multifaceted than just that; her aesthetic is reflective of the Berlin strain of house music, which tends to be traditionally-minded, blending Chicago and deep house with Detroit techno. “Arms” is a pensive track that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from Derrick May circa 1989. “Manic Moods” has a robust lead synth throb that is aggressive yet subdued, with extraterrestrial acid stabs that reflect her Dutch background and wouldn’t necessarily sound out of place coming from Bunker.

Nowhere on Yours & Mine does Steffi swing for the fence. Rather than going for big narratives, she keeps with the traditional tendency of deep house music to maintain the illusion that the night can last forever. Indeed, this set of tracks is consistent in terms of tempo and mood, and thus, while not making for the most arresting of listens, is a pleasant enough taste of refined current club music for those who aren’t necessarily initiated into the fast-paced, sometimes opaque world of electronic dance music. For those who are more indebted to the scene, they’ll at least be familiar with Steffi’s pedigree and should appreciate the intent of Yours & Mine. It’s an album of functional dance songs that fulfill the ambition of their creator, but it does little else. Still, there will always be a place for players like Steffi who keep the ship afloat and offer small, dependable pleasures.

Links: Steffi - Ostgut Ton

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