Barker & Baumecker – Transsektoral on Ostgut Ton
Sam Barker and Andreas Baumecker boast impressive CVs. Andreas is a resident and booker at Berghain, while Sam’s previous releases as Voltek gathered a lot of interest (notably last year’s Power Tools on Acroplane) as well as running the Leisure System nights in Berlin.
The duo can be found first working together on a remix for Sleepy Eyes of Death, before releasing their debut Candyflip EP on Ostgut Ton in 2010. Post debut, the duo toured heavily – another 12″ featuring two versions of A Murder of Crows came out earlier this year, and now Ostgut Ton are releasing the 11 track Transsektoral – named after the duo’s intent to
travel across the entire spectrum of electronic music
They don’t quite manage that (no jungle, for one thing) but they do come pretty bloody close.
Opener Sektor is a pleasant enough ambient piece with some filtered house chords and chimes, leading gently into first track proper Trafo. Combining a shuffled, glitched rhythm like Plaid doing garage with drawn out ‘cello notes, it’s only when the kick joins in that you notice the depth the beat has to it. It’s a fascinating sound – deep and heavy, almost at half time, and yet intricate and swinging.
Halfway through, some funky chords are added to the mix, and after a while the glitches are stripped back to leave a harder kick/hat beat. It was at this point that I realised that this album had used more ideas in two tracks than some do over an entire release.
Schlangbang continues the shuffled beats with some oddball percussion over a steady, deep kick, and a smooth sub playing a peculiar, jazzy melody. Gradually, a twisted, practically atonal chord progression comes in, sweeping everywhere a la Dorian Concept. This track should not make sense – it can’t settle on a groove for more than a minute or so, and any attempt to whistle it in the shower would result in frantic calls to the emergency services from your neighbours – and yet it works, the bounce of the rhythm perfectly accompanying the slippery melodies.
Crows (a reworking of the single mentioned above) continues the atonal theme. The main melody is sour and nasal, like two slightly out of tune melodicas being run through a distortion pedal, and the shuffling snares are completely overwhelmed at times by a huge, reverbed kick. Pads join from time to time, trying to make some melodic sense of what’s being played, and never quite managing it, although the ending is rather reminiscent of Pacific State.
Tranq changes tack again – oriental pentatonic chimes and a pulsing digital bassline relax you after the previous onslaught, another chance for the rhythm to work as decoration rather than to propel one across a dance floor. The garage stylings come to the fore on ‘No Body‘, a track which could easily have fitted on the recent Phon.O LP; simple, dubbed out, and featuring a single repeated vocal stab.
A gentle interlude before Trans_it kicks in. Starting with a filtered 3/4 arpeggio which gently blends into 4/4 over a gradually building beat, the polyrhythms flowing naturally within each other. Melodically it reminds me of Underworld’s Pearls Girl, but swapping the hardcore breaks and lager-chanting for dub-techno propulsion and one almighty sub kick.
Databass 133_1_3 provides another brief dubby interlude, bringing us to the ‘Untold does dancehall’ intro of Buttcracker – a track that again confounds expectations by morphing into a harsh, LFO inspired stomp.
The final two tracks sum up the twin capabilities of modern techno. Silo is, frankly, a beast of a track. Thunderous drums, reversed snare hits, synths that alternate between bubbling away under the beat and tearing your ears off with high end – Berghain techno at its finest.
Album closer Spur, the obligatory nine minute epic is a very different beast. The press release describes it as:
like happy hardcore unravelled and disassembled into a soothing afterword worthy of someone like Dntel
And while I see what they’re getting at, there’s an almost rock feel to the melody. You could easily see it building into G!YBE track, but instead it breaks down into a semi-industrial dirge, ending in a similar way to NIN’s Hurt.
In short – a fantastically eclectic album. To call it dub techno would be to do no justice to the variety of sounds on offer. The boys done good.
Transsektoral is released on Ostgut Ton on September 10th.