Get lost in a dreamscape of sound with Barker (Ostgut Ton) – who does what you do in a studio. With the clock ticking, he happily loses track of time.

It’s delightfully shiny, futuristic music – just what we need in a world that can feel dark and regressive. We spoke to Barker in the fall in the sunshine outside Berghain (playing against type). That conversation dwelled more on philosophy of music and rhythm than tech, but it’s just as stimulating to watch Sam at work on his machines.

Here he is for FACT‘s ongoing Against the Clock series – but I think embodying the best of what that format can be:

The action all takes place in Sam’s home flat, the same basic tools of his live shows. The heart of this rig, even with all those modulars around, is Elektron gear – the OctaTrack as sequencer and brain and sampler, the Digitone making those lovely chimey sounds, and the wonderful Faderfox for control. The Nord Drum adds extra noises, but maybe the most interesting aspect is the plate reverb with solenoids, sequenced by Arturia BeatStep Pro.

Against all this pristine digital goodness, the plate reverb produces some tightly-sequenced but organic and acoustic space. I believe that’s dadamachines as the friendly interface to the physical world – plug-and-play, MIDI-controllable robotics, also coming from Berlin.

For some of the deeper thinking behind Sam’s work lately, check our reflective interview from September:

I remember telling friends when I heard it that I thought Barker’s Utility on Ostgut Ton would be all over end-of-year lists. That was an easy bet – and it was right. But I’m still glad our resident music expert David Abravanel included Sam on the list we ran this week:

And it fits that headline description. It’s music from a techno artist, theoretically – resident of Berlin’s iconic Berghain, check, Ostgut Ton label, check, techno tools of the trade, yes, but added into a sum that just sits somewhere in music, without any particular genre affiliation.

And best of all, I think it’s the sort of sounds that make you want to go off and play, too.