Album of the Week: Barker & Baumecker – Turns

The opening track of Barker & Baumecker’s second album, churns through a dense fog of electronic components, slithering its way to the listener through a melee of abstraction in order to communicate something visceral. From there on in it ventures into the farthest reaches of electronic music, from Kraftwerk to post-dub, dragging the listener along for the journey as it twist and turns its way through the 12-minute opus that constitutes the opening track “senden”. There’s no evident formula that the Ostgut/Leisure system affiliate pair ascribe to other than their own idiosyncrasies, which on “Turns” creates a rich collage, where musical spheres flow indifferently over, above and through each other. The two eclectic musical personalities behind Barker & Baumecker seem to goad one another, pushing and pulling each other through the album, into spaces where you’d never expect the songs to go. What could have easily been two to three different songs are compressed into pieces of cinematic proportions, carving out a narrative through the context of a dance floor, at least for the most part.

Unlike their 12″ releases, where an obscured view of the dance floor can be discerned, for the album format they opt for something more tentative and experimental, where the functional is only ever met by chance occurrence within the framework of something bigger than what a club could offer. Even tracks like “Turnhalle” and “Noctural”, where a percussive workout might be more dominant are spared the insistence of the ubiquitous beat. Rather, elements like the percussion and the pads feel more congruous with some greater theme and what were initially pieces associated with dub, techno, ambience, and IDM loose all connotation with their origins as they get lost in the larger picture of each track, much like the two individuals behind the music would do in their DJ sets.

It’s no coincidence that “Turns” should be our album of the week on the eve of Barker & Baumecker’s visit to our basement this week with a hybrid live/dj show, but that should not deflect from the general magnificence on this album. Where electronic music and dance floor borders have been drawn, Barker & Baumecker continue to carve out a niche sound and prospect for the future of this music and this latest album stands testament to exactly that as it did with Transsektoral. What’s more it’s not without being accessible, and they manage –particularly on this album – to find that perfect balance between creating something that can find the ear of the music obsessive without losing touch with those things we find appealing in musical traditions as evocative melodies, intriguing sonic palettes, and addictive rhythms all conspire to continually draw us to the music. That, more than anything, is why it’s our album of the week.