- If 2008 was a benchmark year for Ostgut, 2009 is already beginning to feel like its equal. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First up: Marcel Dettmann-compatriot and similarly handsome bastard, Ben Klock. As the first Berghain resident to issue an album on the club's in-house label, Klock has a granite weight on his shoulders, even with prior successes like 2007's Scenario double pack with Dettmann, a few modest releases on Bpitch Control and his cheekily-titled Before One EP to stoke the flames for this debut full-length. But perhaps none of those releases prepared us for this. The year's first great techno record, One is a stern assembly of crushed-metal techno and flash frozen dub-tech that for all of its shadows and unlit passages still sparks with briefly luminous melodies.
Klock designed the tracks last year with an album in mind, and the result is a work of tremendous cohesion and fluidity. Much like Shedding the Past, One's sequencing is meticulous, allowing Klock to maintain his clubber's momentum without grinding out his gears over the record's length. It's an album of almost monolithic presence and physique, with dim ambient interludes which offer not so much repose as a sense that some wires have shorted out, briefly, before everything starts to bang and clatter about in the black anew.
A natural product of Berlin, to hear One is to listen in on the sound of a factory pulsing away when the workers have all gone home—the unnatural cadences and tempos of things that are plugged in, gassed-up. "Check for Pulse"" is all mechanistic throb, thrifty but infectious, while with its grim symphonic synth stabs and clunky rhythms, "Coney Island" is savage bump-in-the-night techno. The gentle whorls of synth and faint helicopter twirl of "In a While" are a bit more serene, allowing enough room for the track's jagged Atari melody to collapse under its own sly weight, and "Gold Rush" is Klock's overt dubstep entry, an elementary cut with more stabs of dim color and a beat like a chain-gang lumbering by the roadside.
Yet for all its severity, One wouldn't be such an artistic statement without Klock's sly melodic stitching. "Gloaming" resembles the Bradburian electronic narratives of Boards of Canada. "Cargo," with its clogged-heartbeat bounce and ascendant tonal lines, provides a moment of much-needed reprieve. Though the prospect of Elif Biçer—who appeared on last year's Prosumer & Murat Tepeli record—pairing with Klock initially seemed like a mismatch, Biçer's voice is used more for instrumental layering than as a singer. Her sensual moans provide the slow launchpad techno of "Goodly Sin" with a fleshy warmth that alleviates some of its sting, while her voice is anything but comforting on "OK," smeared in echo and dim reverb to make the track's motorized whirr even more disturbing. Such is the tenor of Klock's play on One, that these honey-pie tones sound so bloodless, Biçer's voice like a warm body set adrift in the evernight cold of space.
01. Coney Island
02. Goodly Sin feat. Elif Biçer
03. Check for Pulse
06. Init One
08. OK feat. Elif Biçer
09. In a While
10. Init Two
11. Gold Rush
13. Thirteen Rounds