Thursday, 12 March 2009

Ben Klock - One

I have been waiting for this to arrive on my doorstep since it was first unveiled in November. After being thwarted at the first attempt by Juno running out of stock, I have on the edge of my seat waiting for this to be delivered, and it appears it was worth the wait.

As Marcel Dettmann showcased the sound of Berghain techno on his 'Berghain 02' CD, it seems only fair that Klock is responsible for the first album by any of the club's residents. The album has a simple, minimal quality that is clearly influenced by his residency- tracks like 'Check for Pulse' would cause havoc in Berghain's cavernous dancefloor. However this is not an album of club hits, but is a carefully sequenced composition that moves from the dancefloor to the home, and shows Klock experimenting with his sound over the album's length.

The album is characterised by Klock's combination of both house and techno sensibilities. The sound is haunting and resonant; dark synth lines and pads appear and disappear throughout. Album opener 'Coney Island' has stabs straight from a horror movie. This darkness is tempered by a fluctuating sense of warmth which emerges at key points in the album. The soundscape builds over the first few tracks, with texture and depth increasing throughout. Ambient numbers 'Init', 'Init 2' and allow breathing space, before pulsating and menacing sounds return. My favourite sections of the album see Klock experimenting with dubstep and vocal material. The influence of dubstep/techno crossover artists like T++ is clearly audible in 'Gold Rush's' skipping beats and hi hats, echoing vocal snippets and pads.

Perhaps the most suprising aspect of the album is the inclusion of guest vocals from Elif Bicer. I was initially unsure how this combination would work, but Klock uses the vocals as just another layer of texture within his compositions. In 'OK', Bicer's voice is robotic and mechanical, cold and measured, while in 'Godly Sin' it is all enveloping, surrounding the listener, floating over a sinister backing track.

While 'One' in not a straight up techno recond, the album draws on the sound that has made Berghain successful and pushes it in new directions. The key for me is the flow of sounds and the atmosphere Klock creates, moving from darkness to ambience, from dubstep to techno, both haunting and warming. Hopefully Klock will develop these new sides to his sound in his future releases and push the boundaries of the Berghain sound, while keeping one eye firmly on the dancefloor.

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