Skip to main content
A Magazine for

biokinetics

biokinetics

I wouldn't usually prioritise a re-release over new music to review, but this record really is something quite special. The brainchild of Berliners Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig, 1998's Biokinetics could be seen as the seminal dub techno record - still recognisably techno but shifting the focus from rhythm and melody to the design of individual sounds. Köner's attention to detail combined with Mellwig's highly esteemed mastering skills work together to create a truly immersive record with a strong under-the-sea aesthetic rising to prominence. In the realm of high-quality headphones this record gives many releases proclaimed as landmarks for sound design in 2011 a run for their money.

We start with 'Port Gentil', heavily affected field recordings whirring and straining at the edges of the soundscape, slowly morphing with the muted kickdrum and industrial clatter in a strangely serene way. There are no drops here, just 12 minutes of meticulously executed evolution, with rhythm elements slowly establishing themselves out of the mush of background noise and key changes catching you by surprise. Next up is the throbbing 'Nautical Dub', an abrupt change in atmosphere from the serene to the brooding. This is like the sound of a Basic Channel showcase in the late 90s, but underwater, your head bobbing above the surface just enough to catch some razor sharp synth rhythms. Incredible.

'Biokinetics 1' continues from where the previous track left off, another exemplary piece of hypnotic loop making that you could listen to forever (until going completely insane). This would sound bang up to date even now, and the newer generation of techno fans may find that after listening to this the Ostgut Ton back catalogue seems a little less groundbreaking. 'Biokinetics 2' takes us back to the slightly more relaxed atmosphere - rolling sub kicks, subdued industrial noise and evolving ambience. If the first of the pair is underwater Marcel Dettmann, then this is subaquatic DVS1.

'Port of Call' marks a return to a throbbing straight up techno beat underpinning oceans of eerie field recordings and interweaving synths. 'Port of Nuba' is the least aquatic feeling of the bunch, all wonked out groove and glitching rhythm, again sounding well ahead of its time. 'Nautical Nuba' is a continuation of the same subaquatic aesthetic of the rest of the record, while 'Nautical Zone' reintroduces the shimmering pads of the opening track combined with a deep and subby groove. Sublime.

This record already gives me the chills, but on vinyl it will be otherworldly. Go and get it.

by Now Then Sheffield