Barker & Baumecker, Candyflip

[Ostgut Ton]

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It seems like Berlin’s heavily mythologized Ostgut Ton uses its single releases, understandably, to stick to tried and true techno and house records. Granted, these are some of the best techno and house records of recent years, but the fact remains that the less straightforward fare usually ends up on the label’s growing series of artist albums. Considering this, the teaming of Sam Barker (aka Voltek) and Andreas Baumecker (aka Berghain resident nd_baumecker) for a collaborative EP on the label is inspiring, managing to find yet another unexplored aspect of dance music for Ostgut to interrogate while remaining as wonderfully functional as it needs to be.

“Candyflip” is a nine minute epic somewhere in between piano house, techno, trance and acid. Structurally it’s confounding, as each percussive element seems to play out independently, dancing around each other rather than locking in sync. The kick limps and drags, as if it just doesn’t want to behave; sometimes it imitates the piano, and even when it’s properly established its thump four minutes in it’s riddled with unpredictable syncopation. A certain weirdness is inherent in the very frequencies of “Candyflip” that’s hard to delineate. There’s banging piano, but it’s not the anthemic piano of classic house records; this piano sounds dangerously electrified, tingling with threatening charges, and the way it slams down on the rhythm is decidedly unnatural. There’s no human playing this piano, and the duo do their best to make this clear as it seems to melt into the synths before collecting itself and reforming. Buried somewhere in the tune are acid synths, but they’re curiously neutered, forced to surrender whatever edge they might have had. Later, they emerge more pungent as sweaty condensation surfacing on the track’s exhausted outro, as the floor begins to give out and the track floats away in a dreamy ambient outro. The once decisive pads are stretched out into gorgeous swathes of visible heat and the piano replaced by a gentle arpeggio as listeners, dancers, and innocent bystanders wonder what the hell they just witnessed.

The two tracks on the flip are marginally more conventional. “The Hole” is house composed entirely of bouncing balls, where even the kick drum sounds as if it were made of rubber until, like the A-side, its smooth sounds morph into toothsome blades. Jimmy Edgar makes a nearly incomprehensible cameo on “Refugee Hipster,” which seems to suffocate every sound with foam padding, little bits of funky melody (Edgar’s keyboard no doubt) finding ways to escape through minuscule pores. Again, there’s just something confounding here; the atmospheres are antiseptic but spacious, canvases that seem to swallow whole everything painted onto them only to regurgitate them in skewed hues. In the context of mighty Ostgut Ton, these tracks are far from mere tools, and in fact, they deserve to stand on their own; to contaminate painstakingly constructed tracks like these with the plebeian beats of others seems to violate sense. Of course, there’s no doubt they’d tear up a dance floor anyway, so while they’re ripping up the rulebook, Barker & Baumecker might as well do away with our petty notions of common sense as well.

SAM  on October 7, 2010 at 1:56 PM


Blaktony  on October 8, 2010 at 7:17 AM

This is one of the uglies pictures of artwork i’ve seen this year(lol)….but, i have 2 say i dig the tune.

Mayth  on October 15, 2010 at 8:31 AM

Really nice write up. So refreshing to actually read something descriptive and analytical, rather than a pasted press release snippet.

And I like the sleeve (but then, I think I like everything Wolfgang Tillmans has ever done…)

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