Originally released in 1996, the first album from Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig on Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus' Chain Reaction label is a seminal dub techno masterpiece which has left an indelible mark on the genre.
In the 21st century, it’s possible to hear resonances of 1996’s Biokinetics everywhere. It’s in the blossoming of rough-around-the-edges ambient music from the likes of Huerco S. and his West Mineral Ltd. label, plotted alongside the minimalism of early Plastikman and the increasingly longform excursions of deep techno. The work towers much in the way of other monuments: with an unending and mysterious opacity.
It isn’t clear exactly what constitutes the elemental driving force of the LP’s epic bookends ‘Port Gentil’ and ‘Nautical Zone’; both are 12-minute behemoths which move with the power of speeding freight trains, and yet in parallel also seem to levitate in the cerebral near distance. The faded textural qualities of ‘Nautical Dub’ and ‘Biokinetics 2’ weld their hypnotic rhythms from dulled scrapes and thuds, prefiguring the ‘hauntological’ glow of Actress’ Ghettoville almost two decades before the fact. In other spots, the skips and frenetic stutters of ‘Biokinetics 1’ and ‘Port of Nuba’ transform discordance with idiosyncratic vision.
Fittingly, the title Biokinetics invokes the movement of organic entities; it’s a rare feat to make techno music that sounds this human.