Who says that dance music needs drums? Can’t you dance to music without a beating pulse?
All naysayers will be challenged by Sam Barker, a British-born and Berlin-based tastemaker working out his own niche in the European capital of electronic music.
He looks beyond the realm of 4/4 techno to explore left-field sound design and rhythmic complexity. Still, his music resembles techno. You have the pulsing chords, a rippling high-end and a gut-punching bass. But no drums.
Barker draws heavily on abstract and decontextualised trance-like synth stabs, on ambient’s suspended atmospheres and on dub womb-like immersivity. Barker is an alchemist who materialises new elements fusing what’s already familiar.
His debut album, Utility (out on nightclub Berghain’s label Ostgut Tun), works wonders even if it may initially frustrate some genre purists. But give into the sounds and you’ll find that they can easily get your body moving and your mind swaying. The critics are ecstatic about the album (just look here, here and here).
When not avoiding drums Barker works as part of the duo Barker & Baumecker (beats allowed here) with longtime Panorama Bar resident nd_baumecker, and before operating under his last name he released razor-sharp electronica under the moniker Voltek. Barker also runs the label Leisure System and has done club night residencies at Berghain for a long stretch.
Look forward to a pulsating (yes, indeed) live set from one of techno’s biggest genre challengers (and appreciators, too) when Barker plays Roskilde Festival 2020.