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26 December 2016

Barker
& Baumecker: Turns (Ostgut-Ton)

Barker
& Baumecker have consistently produced reliably good techno, and
Turns marks an expansion on their style. Fans may be thrown by the
13-minute sprawl of opener “Senden,” which begins unassumingly as
an ambient glide and evolves gradually but continuously into
something alive, a punchy downtempo groove that eventually piles on
layers of arpeggios and tones that feels surprisingly patient and
seductive, considering their previous output. A track like this feels
like they’re dipping their toes into something more akin to classic
downtempo IDM, and it works supremely well. That continues as the
track bleeds into “Encipher & Decipher,” though their techno
roots come through by the time the track is done, carried by heavy
reverb and melodic flourishes while a hazy kick propels it forward.
While their previous album Transsektoral had its fair share of
downtempo and leftfield diversions, Turns seems to embrace the notion
more fully, deviating from dancefloor traditions for much of its
playback without ever feeling like they’ve abandoned it. This is why
“Club Entropicana,” for all of its  maneuvering and shifts in
sound, still feels at home on Ostgut-Ton, essentially a club label.
Its opening of sprinkled, anxious synths and its mechanical (literal)
breakdown feel like a sophisticated, smart prologue to the more
lurching, full-bodied arrangement that follows. It’s far from a
traditional clean techno jam, but its framework of regularity affords
it some generous latitude in how their patterns and sounds operate.
It’s entirely mixable in capable hands with more expected techno, so
it’s not so alienating relative to their roots, but it works
especially well as its own statement away from the dancefloor. Its
deconstruction into a swirl of gated reverbs is really satisfying,
feeling like I’m literally transported away from the club.

Turns Hi-Res by Barker & Baumecker

Like “Club
Entropicana,” “Turnhalle” begins with a more industrial clatter
— like a looping staple gun — before evolving into a
rollicking techno track enhanced by distant, gliding pads.
“Nocturnal” hones in on some classic chill-out room nostaglia,
the smoothest of the bunch, and a welcome counterpoint to the more
experimental sprawl of its preceding cuts. Even still, it morphs over
nine minutes into a dubby, spacious decay that would make Basic
Channel proud. “Statik” closes it out, another elaborate spread
of sound, clocking in at nearly fourteen minutes. Its murky
syncopated breaks and rolling bass hums recall the foggy vibes of
Burial, but like the other cuts it evolves into a chilly techy trance
track, feeling like a late night set in a nearly empty room. For as
varied and as atypical as much of Turns is, it delivers just what its
title promises. It’s one of the more sophisticated and interesting
albums to come out of the Ostgut camp in some time, and a contender
for the best techno album of 2016.

Buy it: Bandcamp

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