In a scene overrun with geeky guys obsessing over Kompakt Records' catalog numbers and Richie Hawtin's digital interface, Ellen Allien is almost too good to be true. She's a talented techno producer, a deft, risk-taking DJ, a savvy record-label boss -- and quite easy on the eyes, to boot. The Berlin Renaissance woman runs BPitch Control, a respected source of techno and electro releases that fulfills dance-floor requirements while also planting memorable tunes in your noggin.
Allien earned glittering praise -- including a Pitchfork 8.5 from Philip Sherburne -- for Orchestra of Bubbles, her 2006 album with Apparat. But she's just as acclaimed for her decknical skills. As a DJ, she plays sets that balance the challenging and spiky with the hypnotic and danceable. She finesses choppy, abrasive pieces by Otto Von Schirach and Squarepusher alongside suave, hummable tech-house specimens by Superpitcher and André Esterman, and campy electro funk by Thomas Andersson and Feadz. "When I DJ, body and music become one; they become brainy," Allien states. Debunking misguided assumptions about electronic music's inherent coldness, Allien's selections stir up some serious drama and emotion as well.