“We all dance away our lives to the tune of the sovereign pleasure-pain axis.”
– David Pearce, The Hedonistic Imperative
Pleasure-seeking and pain-avoidance as a rave metaphor fits the music of Sam Barker. The Berghain resident and Leisure System co-founder has spent the last few years exploring the euphoric potential of altering key variables in dance music formulas.
This was especially true on his 2018 Ostgut Ton debut EP ‘Debiasing’, which was flush with unconventional rhythmic chord stabs, melody and percussion but devoid of kickdrums.
Now, on his debut solo LP ‘Utility’, he turns his focus toward melding experimentation and dancefloor pragmatism with the psychology behind the musical decision making process. ‘Utility’ is a playful but non-ironic musical approach to a whole spectrum of utilitarian and transhumanist ideas: from models for quantifying pleasure and “gradients of bliss” to abolishing suffering for sentient beings (not just people) through the ethical use of drugs and nanotechnology.
Over nine tracks his vision ebbs and flows through waves of deeply psychedelic musical vignettes; free-floating and futuristic melodies and rhythms as targeted brain stimulation. The sound draws heavily on modular synthesis, as well as self-built mechanical instruments and plate reverbs to create atmospheres that are at once alien and emotionally recognizable, functional and utopian.