- Porter Ricks' 1996 compilation Biokinetics is a landmark of dub techno. It's one of the records that defines the genre, held up alongside the Basic Channel catalog. On the run of Chain Reaction EPs that became Biokinetics, the duo of Germans Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig combined dub techno's spiritual thrum with intricate and unparalleled sound design. They put out a few more records through Mille Plateaux and Force Inc. before disbanding in 1999, save for a few remixes since. Köner went on to become a sound artist, while Mellwig continued to make music with the likes of Kevin Martin and Gerhard Behles. The duo reunited 17 years later for a performance at Berlin Atonal, which they're now following with an EP for Tresor.
Aside from an increase in fidelity and force, the three tracks on Shadow Boat have an immediate air of familiarity. From the first moments of the title track we're thrown back into Porter Ricks' nautical world. Classic tracks like "Port Of Call" always sounded stormy, and listening to "Shadow Boat" is like withstanding inclement weather on the open seas. The beat feels unstable, the chords wobble and whoosh, and those typically foamy synths feel like heavy waves lashing against a hull.
The flipside is a bit calmer, though not always less choppy. "Bay Rouge" bobs up and down at a slower pace, the nervy bassline and delay effects keeping it unsettled. The duo's sound design really comes alive: this might be conventional dub techno at heart, but the crackly, grainy sounds—and the delay chords, like an aluminium can popping open—create a world of uncanny detail. "Harbour Chart" is even slower and headier, like it's floating adrift after the storm, and full of more unexpected frequencies. Shadow Boat balances head-nodding rhythms and plunderphonic sound design as impressively as the duo's '90s records. It almost sounds as if no time has passed at all.
A1 Shadow Boat
B1 Bay Rouge
B2 Harbour Chart