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Porter Ricks – Biokinetics (reissue) review

It’s amazing how the passage of time clouds memories and judgment. Biokinetics was originally released on Basic Channel sub-label Chain Reaction back in 1996 and was the first long player on that imprint. Chain Reaction, like its mother label, is viewed as the originator for dub techno, yet as Thomas Koner and Andy Mellwig’s debut as Porter Ricks long-player reminds us, its expression and impact were much wider than that. It explains why the decision by ambient/experimental label Type to reissue this album is an unsurprising one and its reappearance serves as a reminder why sixteen years later, Biokinetics still resonates.

This is not the place to look if you are merely after a series of scuffled, hissing dubby techno tracks –  although “Nautical Nuba” will briefly satisfy this demand with its dense off-beats. Rather Biokinetics sounds like a blueprint for many of the electronic music narratives that flowed as a result of these sources. The gentle ambience of “Port Gentil”, where textured sounds ebb and flow against a lazy rhythm, could be the basis for Type’s own output or even the wide-eyed innocence of Border Community, while at the other end of the spectrum the steam-rolling rhythms and grinding bass on “Port Of Call” point to subsequent releases by Shitkatapult and T.Raumschmiere.

In between these polar opposites are the beginnings of other significant styles; the skeletal rhythms and shaking percussion on “Port Of Nuba” acts as a precursor for early noughties minimalism, particularly the more abrasive forms as practised by Farben, while the abstract, stop-start arrangement at the centre of “Biokinetics 1” sounds uncannily like a draft for the current tendency towards abstract techno. And aside from these caprcies there is also the chugging, shimmering grooves of “Nautical Dub” and “Nautical Zone”. Lighter and clearly less contrived than what followed in their wake, they complete a framework that was copied countlessly but never equalled.

Richard Brophy


Tracklisting:

1. Port Gentil
2. Nautical Dub
3. Biokinetics 1
4. Biokinetics 2
5. Port Of Call
6. Port Of Nuba
7. Nautical Nuba
8. Nautical Zone