Barker & Baumecker: Transsektoral
Ostgut Ton

Transsektoral, the fifty-nine-minute collaborative effort by Berliners Sam Barker and Andreas Baumecker, registers as a judiciously conceived and sequenced album, from its introductory piece, “Sektor,” to its epic closer, “Spur,” as opposed to a random selection of techno tracks. It's also—unusual for an Ostgut Ton release, especially—a techno album that unexpectedly welcomes into its orbit the kind of intricate textural detail associated with Autechre. Without wishing to push the connection too far, the Barker & Baumecker sound could be likened to a heavily club-focused version of Autechre in place of the more experimental unit we've come to know. In keeping with an album title that alludes to its creators' desire to cover multiple genres, Transsektoral extends beyond its techno core to reference ambient, dub, house, and even garage in its eleven pieces.

The dub-ambient scene-setter “Sektor” eases the listener in nicely, after which “Trafo” brings the Transsektoral aesthetic into clearer focus with a heady combination of ominous, Autechre-styled electronic design and tightly coiled beat slam. The aptly titled “Schlang Bang” likewise scatters metallic accents across its twitchy beat pattern and elastic sub-bass pulse until they're supplanted by a swirling synth figure and steamy house groove. Also well-titled, the anthemic “Crows” is rendered memorable by braying melodic fanfares that clamour atop the tune's pounding, dub-techno skip.

Other club fare includes “No Body,” which arranges beats and female vocal snippets into a slinky slice of garage-styled house, and “Trans_it,” whose liquid sequencer patterns and pumping pulse give it the air of a classic Detroit techno cut. Strong, too, are the regrettably titled “Buttcracker,” which kicks up a crushing head of steam in its pounding, jackboot attack, and “Silo,” a locomotive club throwdown powered by a charging bass pulse, frothy hi-hats, and a motorik parade of off-beat snare accents. On the more experimental tip, “Tranq” pulsates relaxedly like some explorative Autechre out-take, while the ten-minute closer, “Spur,” impresses in the way it builds ever-so-gradually from its initial clockwork radiance into a grandiose soundscape that's got more in common with epic ambient than anything dance-related.

To their credit, Barker and Baumecker do manage to cover ample ground without compromising on the album's unity and cohesiveness—no small accomplishment when almost every piece points in a slightly different direction. It's a balancing act the two sound designers perform admirably. Perhaps that commonality of vision is explainable in part by the fact that both are Berghain associates, with Barker responsible for the club's Leisure System night and Baumecker a club booker and resident DJ of long-standing. It's interesting to note that when the duo worked together for the first time at the Berghain venue, they did so as organizers for a concert by none other than Autechre, with Baumecker the booker for the club and Barker as the booking agent.

October 2012