Berlin-based DJ and producer Sam Barker explores the outer limits of dance music, both as a solo artist and as half of the duo Barker & Baumecker.
A longtime resident of the prestigious club Berghain, he is also the co-founder of Leisure System, an event series and record label dedicated to pushing dancefloor experimentation. While his work with Andy Baumecker typically consists of hard, intricately designed club techno, his solo output as Barker, such as 2019 full-length Utility, is a singular brand of shimmering ambient techno that often shuns kick drums.
Originally from England, Barker studied in Brighton and was part of the city's experimental music scene. Eventually he began hoarding analog synthesizers and recording as Voltek. After getting a job at a booking agency, he moved to Berlin in 2007. He met Andy Baumecker (already a longtime resident DJ at Berghain) while organizing a performance by Autechre in 2008, and the two began working on music together, while Barker and Ned Beckett promoted events as Leisure System. Barker & Baumecker began releasing exploratory, club-focused techno records on the Berghain-affiliated Ostgut Ton imprint, beginning with the 2010 EP Candyflip. IDM netlabel Acroplane released Power Tools, an album by Barker's more abstract Voltek alias, in 2011. Leisure System launched its label the same year, and Barker's first solo release under his surname, the fractured dubstep-adjacent EP Like an Animal, came out in 2012. Barker & Baumecker released two full-lengths, 2012's Transsektoral and 2016's Turns, while Barker continued developing his own distinctive sound. In 2018, he issued Debiasing, a four-song EP of blissful, trance-influenced beatless techno. Widely hailed by the dance music press, the inventive release was followed by the more beat-driven 2019 white label EP BARKER 001, which preceded Barker's much-anticipated full-length Utility. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi