Release Date: Feb 13, 2012
Record label: Type
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
Chaining Thomas Köner's abstract ambience to grubby, cavernous beats, this collection (including several early singles) could be the best release in the entire Basic Channel canon. What begins on "Port Gentil" as a rough train-track rhythm rumbles to a stop on "Biokinetics 2" as dub-delay effects creep in and out of the mix. Though the metal-box packaging can be frustrating (and dangerous to the health of the CD inside), Biokinetics is a stunning summation of the Basic Channel aesthetic.
In 1996, Chain Reaction, the highly influential techno label run by Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald, released Biokinetics, a CD-only collection of new and previously released material by the duo Porter Ricks. The album became something of a classic, albeit one that was firmly entrenched in the deepest niches of techno connoisseurship. Late last year, the Birmingham-born, Massachusetts-based Type Records announced it would reissue Biokinetics as its 100th release, this time on vinyl as well as CD, remastered and with new artwork.
The 1990s was a period of unbelievable fecundity for dub techno, and much of it can be traced to two men: Markus Ernestus and Moritz van Oswald. Working out of their native Berlin, they were entrepreneurs, tastemakers, and insanely good producers, fusing the metallic machinations of Detroit techno with European drone and shadows of Jamaican dub, and creating the outlets through which people could hear the music. Their original label, Basic Channel (also the name of their duo), only lasted from ’93 to ’95, but in that short time, they released several mesmerizing LPs that had a galvanizing effect on the dance community in Europe.
If you bought Porter Ricks' Biokinetics on CD in the 1990s and the disc is still intact, consider yourself lucky: The original edition is currently trading for $65 and up on Discogs. The price has something to do with the album's place in history: Biokinetics, a touchstone of experimental techno, was the first album released on Berlin's widely worshipped Chain Reaction label. But scarcity is a bigger factor: Biokinetics, like all of Chain Reaction's CDs from that era, came packaged in an aluminum tin that tended to crack the CD it was supposed to be protecting.