Barker - Unfixed EP
Sam Barker returns with his first solo EP since 2020's BARKER002, this time on Oslo's Smalltown Supersound. While Barker's previous releases (2018's Debiasing EP, 2019's Utility LP) explored the possibilities of kickless dancefloor tracks, Unfixed sees him inverting the musical equation and exploring both the variability and sonic possibilities of a kick-drum – though the final result is not a concept EP. The four tracks emerged from a session that started out as both a technical study in bass drum design and cognition, specifically problem of "functional fixedness", which describes a mental block that restricts the use of an object to its traditional application. Exploring the so-called "generic parts technique", whereby an object is broken down into its component parts to help reveal novel solutions, the typical bass drum elements of waveform, transient, and noise were re-combined through modular synthesis to become fluid, expressive and dynamic. However, what began as a rule-based experiment was overtaken by a more organic music making process without specific conceptual constraints, which allowed the music to live and breathe. Tracks were started and then left unfinished, only to be approached again and again over lengthy intervals. Stylistically the result a mix of raw, stuttering, psychedelic growl, kosmische techno, and infinite iterations and of a single groove. In this regard, Unfixed sees Barker not only deeply invested in musical experimentation but also exploring his own biases in both composition and sound design. The result is, once again, a sound and musical framework all of his own.