As a musician, DJ and co-founder of the Leisure System label, Sam Barker has helped push the boundaries of dance music in Berlin, looking beyond the realm of 4/4 techno to explore left-field sound design and rhythmic complexity. His musical approach – both solo and in the duo Barker & Baumecker with longtime Panorama Bar resident nd_baumecker – unselfconsciously combines bass music tropes, breakbeat, dub and ambient elements while still maintaining a strong connection to the dancefloor.
This broad musical vision has not only guided Barker & Baumecker’s various EPs, LPs, and remixes for Ostgut Ton (most recently the 2016 LP Turns), but also Barker’s curatorial direction for Leisure System, which now boasts one of the longest club night residencies at Berghain. Having put out records by the likes of Dopplereffekt, as well early EPs by Objekt and Visionist, Barker has proudly operated on techno’s periphery – and, in the process, sought to shift its center. His EP Debiasing marked his solo debut release with Ostgut Ton, taking a hard look at the musical elements often considered necessary to maintain dancefloor momentum, offering four distinct, driving, hypnotic and unlikely dancefloor tools. His solo debut album Utility – out September 2019 on Ostgut Ton – is a playful but non-ironic musical approach to a whole spectrum of utilitarian and transhumanist ideas.
A classically trained musician, British-born and Berlin-based Barker is also an active instrument designer and builder who combines coding skills with analogue, electric and acoustic instrument construction under the name Voltek. Most recently he worked together with Underground Resistance’s Ray 7 on a sonic architectural exploration of empty factories in Detroit using self-programmed analogue percussion instruments.