Barker | Utility |Ostgut Ton
Release Date: 6th September, 2019
Feature Image: Barker by Uli Kaufmann
With a sharp, dynamic approach to dancefloor experimentation; left-field techno artist, producer and Leisure System label co-founder – boasting a bold, idiosyncratic presence in the iconic Berlin club Berghain – Sam Barker returns with his latest album, gracing listeners with his debut solo LP ‘Utility’.
One part of dancefloor duo Barker & Baumecker, Barker offers a hypnotic approach in a dynamic reflection; classically trained, breaking the boundaries of rhythmic expectation in a sound design traverse. His distinct brand of brooding dub techno in his solo work was first introduced via his debut EP ‘Debiasing’ in 2018 via Ostgut Ton; an inventive new approach with unlikely instrumentation as a bright mesmer in the electronic music world.
With ‘Utility’ self described as focusing on the complex reality of nuanced societal systems and a ranging spectrum of enlightened approaches, personified in the complex instrumentation Barker is known for, his experience in sound design; and as an instrument builder and coder in electric, analogue and acoustic – ‘Utility’ is rich in dub techno cuts, ambience and IDM influences – Barker’s work shimmers with a club-readiness while still remaining contemplative and elaborate in structure.
Opening with the uplift of a bubbly glittering synth; the first track of the album ‘Paradise Engineering’ swells amongst the engulf of a submerged beat – singing progression and confidence, a self-assurance swimming in the dreamlike soundscape. Carefully woven layers of synths rising and falling – cradling technological timbres in a glowing futuristic aura. The foundation raw with a hopeful vision of creation and rebirth.
Dotted robotic voices speak out as ‘Experience Machines’ introduces itself; curious and playful, traversing an artificial spacetime as timbres swim within open spaces; otherworldly excitement in the aural exploration, machine experimentation. Grinning A.I, sentience, carefully layering a driven foundation, moving the track forward with clear purpose while still remaining deeply unique, dancing with robots – a mechanical shiver building upward into a fully realised world, innovative and complex – nuanced yet easy to swallow, to consume and create in minimal progression.
‘Gradients of Bliss’ blends effortlessly in introduction; ambient pulses slowly blooming, doused in an amiable placid tone – a composed hypnotic mesmer, slow swaying layers gracefully accompanying one another in the calm swirl; waves lapping the shorefront, over, under and amongst one another in an ambient embrace. The growing buds of IDM peering through a tender gossamer veil.
‘Utility’ is layered with personality and bold innovation – breaking free from typical compounds of genre; a mechanical ambient dream in a harsh reality, an experimental serenade to the possibilities of everything that could be.