For many, Berlin is the Mecca of techno and with good reason. One such reason is the collaboration of duo Sam Barker and Andreas Baumecker (aka nd_Baumecker) who have come together again as Barker & Baumecker to release a new album on “the” techno label of labels, Ostgut Ton. To be signed to the Ostgut Ton label, which is housed by the historic club Berghain, is a feat in of it self but that is not to say the sound and style of this particular album stand for themselves.
In the early 90’s, nd_Baumecker started DJing in his hometown of Frankfurt and also regularly performed in the old club Ostgut – the precursor of the Berghain. When the Ostgut had to close in 2003 and the Berghain opened one year later, nd_Baumecker moved to Berlin to become not only a resident DJ but a major member and booker at the club as well.
Barker, who had been a very musical child since birth, had already started producing electronic music at the age of 13. He also learned to play a wide variety of different instruments. Almost consequently, he moved to Brighton in 2002 to study music and quickly became involved in the huge experimental music scene there. Like nd_Baumecker, Barker started working as a booker for his own events and moved with the agency to Berlin in 2007.
Both first met and collaborated as bookers for a new event at the Berghain in 2008 featuring their own diverse and multifaceted style. Later, this became a series of events called Leisure System. The two became friends and their first musical collaboration was a remix for Sleepy Eyes of Death. Pleased with the result, Barker & Baumecker continued working together and had their debut EP Candyflip on Ostgut in 2010. A live tour followed and they constantly experimented with sound and noises to convert their various influences.
At the beginning of this year, Barker & Baumecker released their second EP on Ostgut called A Murder Of Crows. This two-track EP was kind of a preview for the Transsektoral LP and already proved everyone that the duo creates and explores completely new spheres of electronic music by combining multiple impressions and genres. The second part of the EP posted above is a perfect example: it is both epic, because of the beautiful choral vocals and the spherical arc sounds, and danceable because of the intense drums, rhythm and synths. Both elements combined equal an incredibly fresh and innovative sound.
With their debut LP, Barker & Baumecker show us that their creativity is limitless and the diversity of genres cannot just be found within the tracks but also throughout the whole album which makes it a lot of fun to listen to and challenges on the other side.
The record starts with the spherical prologue “Sektor” that is very minimalistic and playful. In contrast to this drumless piece is the second track “Trafo” which is dominated by a voluminous set of percussion while keeping the mystic Element of “Sektor”. With “Schlang Bang”, Barker & Baumecker offer an amazing dance track with a catchy theme and beautiful breaks. This powerful track is followed by a little flashback called “Crows” and it reminds one a lot of their second EP on Ostgut not just because of its name but also because of the bass line and drums. The fifth track, “Tranq”, is an IDM-like production and it just sounds like it is called – a bit tipsy and shaky with a pulsating and hypnotizing structure.
“NoBody” is the first track featuring vocals whereat they are more or less used as an additional experimental ingredient by being modulated and edited constantly. The track itself is again not located in a certain genre and keeps the listener guessing what is coming next and what the following tracks will be like. What is coming next is a completely different tune compared with the ones before: a 130 bpm synth jam called “Trans_It” that drives you completely crazy. It is followed by the little interlude “Databass 133 1/3” with half the bpm and a jazzy connotation. The LP continues with “Buttcracker” and “Silo” that are definitely the roughest tracks on the album. The first thing that came to my mind after listening to these tracks (especially to “Silo”) was that they would have perfectly fit into the New Jack Techno Compilation on Turbo Recordings earlier this year. It is just this modern interpretation of classic techno with an interesting beat and innovative elements but the old rough atmosphere and sound. The album ends very epic – with the almost ten-minute-long track “Spur” that is constantly evolving and progressing, starting with a small percussion sequence and becoming more and more complex and mysterious. The grand finale is a huge wall of sound and noise that passes through the listener and leaves nothing behind but silence and the impressions you had while listening to the album.
Overall, Barker & Baumecker show us that they can not just combine their curiosity in experimenting and techno music in smaller releases but that they are able to produce a complete hour of high quality musical enjoyment with such an enormous diversity and complexity that still feels so homogeneous and natural. With “Schlang Bang”, “Buttcracker” and “Silo” they have also delivered some serious dance tunes for the club and when you listen to “Crows” you really get an impression what creativity means.