Ben Klock: One
Ostgut Ton

Apparently Ben Klock has issued only a dozen EPs over the last decade, the explanation being that he'd decided to focus on quality control rather than visibility. His debut album One should therefore raise his profile considerably, given the bold vision of techno and the high level of craftsmanship on display throughout its seventy-two minutes.

When “Coney Island” locks itself into position one minute in, you know you're in for something special. Klock coolly lets the tension build, holding back before opening the track up with a thumping kick drum, aggressive strings, and a ricocheting percussion effect, escalating the track to a near-delirious pitch before pulling it back from the precipice. Two of the album's strongest cuts feature singer Elif Biçer (who's recorded with Prosumer & Murat Tepeli). Klock strips her voice to its essence on the seriously funky “Goodly Sin” and then undergirds the smeared voice patterns with a tribal pulse and an irresistibly dirty snare sound. In “OK,” he reduces her words (“Ain't no happiness / Ain't no sadness”) to a near-indecipherable call-and-response before slamming the groove into position with a hammering thwock. With its back-beat shuffle and burbling bass line, “Check For Pulse” begins like a Porter Ricks track but quickly morphs into a techno charger; nevertheless, the subtle transitions that occur throughout can't help but suggest some small kinship with Biokinetics (the equally-trippy “Grip” also could pass for some hyper-amped update of a lost PR cut). That One is light years removed from flaccid dance music is borne out by a raging cut such as “Gloaming,” and Klock even makes a credible stab at dubstep in “Gold Rush,” which spins its twirling chain in a cloud of crackle dust and shuffling snares. Even the slightly less dynamic tracks have enough going on to remain ear-catching (“Underneath” is little more than a wispy chugging rhythm with a tiny piano motif sprinkled over top yet the artful fluidity of Klock's mix keeps you listening anyway). One shows Klok's material to be hypnotic and funky, and exceptionally tight too in its precision-tooled relentlessness.

March 2009