Ben Klock, One

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The early bird hype on One hinted it was very self-consciously an “album.” Some suggested Ben Klock had discarded the Berghain-tested stompers that made his name for a more mature sound, perhaps even an attempt at a grand artistic statement. Alarm bells rang: Would this means is an album with a couple of killer tracks at best and a lot of filler? Surely Klock hadn’t gone soft and released an album of downbeat noodlings and scrappy experiments?

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These fears evaporate quickly with the opening salvo of “Coney Island.” Out of a brief watery synth wash arises a leviathan, that familiar thumping kick drum. From this starting pistol, One comes hard out of the blocks with “Check For Pulse” and “Underneath,” both lean club tracks without an ounce of fat on them. Later on, “Cargo” and album highlight “Grip” could slot easily into a Klockworks release, Klock’s own outlet for his most functional moods. But as intimated above, One is far from being solely of the “go-hard-or-go-home” school of purist techno. Klock’s palette is broad, which is most evident on “OK.” Out of a rocky bed of familiar bass rumble, Elif Bi├žer’s almost diva-esque vocal blooms as the album’s sole “pop” moment. “Init One” and “Init Two” are twin homages to Chain Reaction and “Gloaming” rides a similarly graceful early morning groove.

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On a record that is otherwise as surefooted as a Sherpa, the only misstep is “Gold Rush.” Klock and fellow Berghain resident Marcel Dettmann’s interest in dubstep is well-documented, with both sprinkling their sets liberally with Scuba, Shackleton and Skream tracks. Klock’s foray into the genre is uncharacteristically directionless, faltering drumbeats rising intermittently out of a fog of static. But don’t believe the naysayers: One is as good a techno album as you will find in 2009. Richie Hawtin’s debut album as Plastikman, Sheet One, seems an apt reference point, both aesthetically and contextually. Klock has reached out beyond his core sound, without losing any of the directness and focus that has always been his trademark.

harpomarx42  on April 8, 2009 at 10:42 PM

I thought this was a good album, but it didn’t grab me as hard as Shedding The Past. Napoleon Hill and Gold Rush are right good, the latter isn’t that bad as a dubstepno tune, but to each his/her own…

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