Berlin’s Dixon, aka Steffen Berkhahn, a cofounder of the Innervisions label, is famous for his unusually immersive DJ sets. He doesn’t just set a mood; he conjures imaginary universes out of thin air, using his vast musical knowledge (as well as USB sticks brimming with edits and exclusives) to sequence intricately evolving sessions that feel like traveling through time and space. So when 2020’s pandemic shuttered clubs around the world, it presented him with a quandary: How to make the two-dimensional experience of an online stream feel like something listeners could disappear into? Recorded at home, his hour-long contribution to Boiler Room’s Streaming From Isolation series attempts to answer that question visually, on one level: He and the multimedia masterminds behind Transmoderna, his Ibiza residency, used eye-popping digital effects to turn Dixon’s studio into an underwater world populated by strange creatures.
But Dixon’s set is just as enveloping on a strictly musical level. Guided by an almost philosophical line of investigation—as he asked Boiler Room Radio, “What are the key elements of clubbing? Why are some parties amazing and some not?”—Dixon assembled a set’s worth of unreleased tracks that bend club music’s arc toward an unusually psychedelic horizon. Early tracks like Aera’s “Turing Machine” push Dixon’s trademark melodic techno into especially pensive territory, while the stair-stepping triplets of Mehill’s “Through Withdrawals” pave a path back to the progressive electronic of the ’70s; the set’s conclusion flips dubbed-out disco into a dreamy, whisper-soft finish. The end result is a set with all the thrills of an epic club night, just a little bit more intimate. After all, says Dixon, “Good clubs try to make the distance between the DJ and the dance floor as small as possible.” In this remarkable set, the two points virtually converge.