Reggaetown: 24 Hours in Hamburg

Martin Sukale, chief engineer and owner of Ameise Records sitting outside the Ameise pressing plant in Blankensee, Hamburg

It’s 14:00 on Friday afternoon, and most of the traffic is headed the other direction as the Irieland crew – Jah Seal, Aldubb, Mr Glue and Pierre-Antoine Foulquier – arrives from the motorway into Hamburg. We follow the Reeperbahn towards the harbour, and down past the fish market. Pierre is the gourmet of the group and he’s on the lookout for some good street food to get us started. “Later we have to have a fischbrötchen with white wine,” says Pierre. We nod in agreement. We’re already hungry, but there’s something more pressing to do. We’re vinyl addicts on the way to a record factory.

Ameise Records, which describes itself as the smallest pressing plant in the world, is in Blankensee, ten kilometers west of Hamburg, and as we drive past the massed cranes of the deepwater port on the river Elbe, and out into the countryside, past many impressive villas looking out over the river, we are reminded of the merchant history and wealth of Hamburg, which has been for long stretches an independent city state, and one of the major European ports. Today, much of the trade into northern Germany still arrives through Hamburg. We arrive at the address on Sibbertstrasse in Blankensee, a long low building with no sign of life. There’s no sign of the Ameise office, and we walk around into the back yard, where there is music coming out of a small concrete building. There’s a ‘Wood Workshop’ sign over the open door, but just inside the door are boxes of records, and in the back, a single green pressing machine is in action. Ameise founder Martin Sukale greets us, and we sit outside in a pleasant corner of the yard for kaffee and kuchen.

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