Dave Tinning pays a visit to Kastanienallee’s Melting Point records…
When Melting Point opened on Mitte’s Neue Schönhauser Straße in 1994, it was the only store – of any type, really – in an area which is now jam-packed with designer boutiques and chain stores. By 2005 the store was feeling the squeeze of increasing rents and decided to move to the (then) more affordable Kastanienallee.
The new location had, and still has, its advantages, such as providing a healthy passing trade and a wide pavement perfect for hanging out on – an important consideration for the store’s owner mitch (small ‘m’ requested), a tall, quietly spoken man whose intense passion for music is rivalled only by his zeal for Barcelona and Freiburg football clubs.
Over its 16-year history, Melting Point has built up a reputation for selling quality electronic music. Starting life as a house music hub, the shop quickly expanded to incorporate second hand disco, boogie and funk, and subsequently became a legendary store among Berlin’s vinyl digging cognoscenti.
mitch arrived in Berlin in 1992, drawn by the explosion of electronic dance music and club culture in the capital. He and two friends conceived the store as an extension of their love for clubbing and DJing, aiming simultaneously to fill the gap for quality house music in a town obsessed with the tauter sound of techno. The store quickly grew popular with those DJs wanting to push the slower, funkier sounds at trailblazing Berlin clubs like Planet E-Werk, WMF and Tresor.
House music remains Melting Point’s main focus, with a room dedicated to European labels like Philpot, Running Back and Rush Hour, as well as imprints like Underground Quality from the New York, and UK’s Rekkids. Techno isn’t completely absent though; a small section caters for the deeper, Detroit-influenced sounds of labels such as Delsin and Dial.
The store has a light, open feel to it, thanks to the big windows facing onto the street. Head down the steps to find the main room – spacious and minimal – and lots of new releases, while the area around the counter has a more cluttered feel, with boxes of second hand soul, disco and boogie 12’s piled up on the floor.
Much of this stuff, considered cheesy and irrelevant in the giddy, future-obsessed 90s, is now being re-appreciated both on its own merits as well as for being the source and inspiration for house.
Much of this used vinyl is unearthed by mitch on his weekly trips to Berlin’s numerous flea markets, where he also finds the incredible cover art work and images from obscure records that hang on Melting Point’s walls and in the store window.
“I’m not as disciplined as I once was,” he admits of his own crate-digging expeditions. “A few years ago I’d go directly to the markets on Sunday morning from the party – after DJing or dancing all night.” Nonetheless he can’t fight the urge to run his fingers through the dusty racks at Mauerpark on a regular basis.
“A few years ago I could find 20 copies of Giorgio Moroder’s From Here To Eternity album for 5 Euros – total,” he reminisces. “Now people have more of a clue what they are selling, so it’s harder to find true bargains. If only I had the music knowledge I have now when I was digging 10 or 15 years ago…”
The mix of new and old appeals to Melting Point’s customer base, which is divided between local DJs and clued up city visitors; the used vinyl, says mitch, is as popular as the new releases in terms of sales.
On my last visit, I left with Prince’s Dirty Mind LP, Joyce Sims’s Mantronix-produced “Come In To My Life”, a re-pressed Ron Hardy edit (on transparent red vinyl) and a new Rick Wade 12 on Detroit’s Harmonie Park – a pretty fair reflection of what this store is all about.
U8: Rosenthaler Platz
T: 030 44 04 71 31
Open: Mon-Sat 12-20