Berlin techno is a genre that tends to baffle outsiders, and admittedly its insular, mechanistic pulse won’t be for everyone. However, if you have any suspicions that it might be for you, Ben Klock’s full-length debut One is a very good place to start. Over the past decade Klock has mostly focused on DJing (very successfully, I might add), keeping his releases down to a handful of tightly focused EPs. While those tracks were more straightforwardly suited to the dancefloor, with One he’s crafted a (very long) album of great subtlety and variation, one that sneaks up on you rather than clubbing you over the head with melodies and rhythms.
The opening “Coney Island” alone, with its gradual build and almost horror movie synths, provides more momentum and variation than novices might imagine (relatively) minimal techno could provide, and following it up with “Goodly Sin”, a throbbing, swaying slowburner with voice (not vocals, not really) by Elif Biçer that only serve to highlight how estranged this music is from verse-chorus-verse normalities.
Biçer shows up again on “OK”, where her vocals are cut up over a dark rumble that sounds like she’s trapped in a cargo container floating in space. Other than that, One is just Klock and his machines, and as the stunning duo of “Underneath”/”Gloaming” makes clear he doesn’t need anything else. Every so often he feints toward some more explicit outside influence (most obviously on the post-dubstep static and clicks of “Gold Rush”), but for the most part Klock just builds his own sound world, monolithic and beat heavy and very, very dark. It’s a bewitching place to get lost inside of.