As a musician, DJ and co-founder of the Leisure System label, Sam Barker has helped push the boundaries of dance music in Berlin, looking beyond the realm of 4/4 techno to explore left-field sound design and rhythmic complexity. His musical approach – both solo and in the duo Barker & Baumecker with longtime Panorama Bar resident nd_baumecker – unselfconsciously combines bass music tropes, breakbeat, dub and ambient elements while still maintaining a strong connection to the dance floor.
Barker grew up learning every instrument he could get his hands on, and, by age 13, had started with his own electronic productions. In 2002 he moved to Brighton to study music, and became involved with the flourishing experimental scene there. He started promoting his own events under the name “Instrumentality”, and event that encouraged improvisation, collaboration, and electronic experiments every week for four years. During this time he built up a sizeable collection of analogue hardware that became the backbone for his work as Voltek. A classically trained musician, the British-born Barker is also an active instrument designer and builder who combines coding skills with analogue, electric and acoustic instrument construction. Most recently he worked together with Underground Resistance’s Ray 7 on a sonic architectural exploration of empty factories in Detroit using self-programmed analogue percussion instruments.
In 2007, he moved to Berlin. Since co-founding Leisure System, which now boasts one of the longest club night residencies at Berghain, Barker’s broad musical vision has not only guided his other Barker & Baumecker release, Turns, but also Barker’s curatorial direction for Leisure System, which now boasts one of the longest club night residencies at Berghain. Having put out records by the likes of Dopplereffekt, as well early EPs by Objekt and Visionist (not to mention his own 2011 EP Like An Animal), Barker has proudly operated on techno’s periphery – and, in the process, sought to shift its center.