Break out of the drab and the grime and the grind: the latest from Berghain resident Barker is about colors and freedom, with a hypnotic, playful video to match. We talk to the artists.
Presumably, Berlin techno club Berghain and its label Ostgut Ton are associated with bright colors much in the way that the capital of Germany is associated with ocean beaches or country and western music.
But Sam Barker’s new EP – which we’ll go into in a separate CDM story – actually fits perfectly, if you open your mind. As usual, the DJ/producer and co-founder of the Leisure System label and party boldly dreams up new directions for techno. That is, this music is still about forging machine rhythms from the latest sonic technologies, still about techno’s duple groove, but here does so in ways that forgo four-on-the-floor kick cliches or the current trends in gloomy timbres. In their place, you’re treated to brightly vibrating pads and shimmering rhythmic textures.
Or, anyway, those are the clumsy words I can think of to describe it. But Singapore-born motion artist Reza Hasni’s video captures exactly what you’d imagine Barker’s new music should look like. Watch:
CDM checked in with Sam and Reza for more.
Barker: I love Reza’s animation and illustration work, and asked him if he’d make a video for “Filter Bubbles.” I only explained, the shape of the track is supposed to represent bubbles being created and eventually bursting. Reza then built a narrative around this abstract bubble making machinery that ultimately breaks down, opening the door to a new dimension. Hugely grateful to have his imagination on this issue.
Reza Hasni: I have been following Sam’s music and was really excited to do a video for his latest track. The video is about a story of the abstract bubble that represents us. It’s supposed to fit into a situation or organization that loops itself everyday … and eventually it gets bored and escapes into another, until the part where it breaks away from the bubble machinery and evolves to be something unique and less repetitive.
CDM: I’m curious how you approached the music — how do you hear it, or how does that hearing impact how you arrange the animation?
Reza: When Sam told me that the shape of the track is supposed to represent bubbles being created, when I hear the track it reminded me of metal pipes, a smokey industrial factory, the feeling of early morning daily routine when you get up and head to work, doing something in the middle and straight back to sleep — that sort of cycle for the bubble. The track was lighter so I created something happier – then I thought of a happy, colorful, fun industrial factory with strobing lights.
Do you tend to see these sorts of visuals when you hear music, or do you have color associations with the music?
Not all music is the same, so it changes for me. But I often see color associations with music.
CDM: How are you producing your visuals?
I sketch a lot, transferring all elements into [Adobe] After Effects and animating it from there. If you see my other works, there’s a lot of collage influence in my visuals.
It’s a technicolor explosion of colors – I try to incorporate the colors used for sand mandalas into my videos.
This whole process is sort of meditative for me.
Thanks, Reza and Sam! I had an extended conversation in Sam’s home studio yesterday about the album, how it was made, and music in general, so watch for that interview soon. In the meantime, don’t miss the new EP. It’s on repeat for me at least – in the happy bubble way, naturally.
BARKER: O-TON 112 Debiasing [Ostgut]