Simon Baker EP Review: Red Tools Volume One

Simon Baker’s recently released EP, Red Tools Volume One (BKR Projekt 005), takes us further into the dark sounds of techno, creating a musical space to explore through perpetual movement in sound.


The first track, “Buffed Up,” definitely explores the cooler side of things. Driving sixteenth note rhythms are very intricately layered. The vocal sample enters in with unsettling and haunting sound effects that grow louder until the groove returns.  Multiple echoing effects and sweeping drum sounds that swell in and out create a dizzying mood. The back beat snare clap is withheld until the middle of the track, and energizes beat. This is very industrial sounding; reminiscent of sounds that might be heard at a train yard.  There is little melodic content, save for singular offbeat chord that sounds on every measure.

“Tranthing” starts out with muffled and crunchy tones and goes into a solid, hard thumping groove. This has more of a futuristic sound to it. Instead of being in an industrial space, It feels like how being abducted by aliens might. It has a fairly minimal structure to it and a single pitch drone that can put you in a trance like state, creating a feeling of suspense with its eerie quality.

“Blaze” feels like a fast moving ship of some sort. This track is cleaner or less crunchy sounding. The amorphous pulsating wave throughout intensifies the mood as it travels forward. It is a quite urgent sound almost like a warning siren. Gleaming, shrill effects bring the crescendo to its peak.  As soon as it subsides the beat moves along with heavy bass and a space-age sounds that “blaze” a path at what feels like a high speed chase.

The real club thumper of the album is “Proof.” Right away, the vocal sample beckons the listener to “work it out, work it out,” which can only be responded to with movement. It’s a circus of rolling baselines, bouncing trashy hi-hats, and sporadic melodic electronic interjections. Unifying the track throughout is the presence of the minor second interval. For all you non-musician types, a minor second is two pitches that are a half step away, or two adjacent keys on a piano, sounding simultaneously. It’s crunchy and keeps you on edge, and they are threaded cleverly all through the track.

Red Tools Volume One (BKR Projekt 005) takes you on a journey through terrestrial as well as extra-terrestrial musical scenes. What really sets this album apart is its overall grittiness. Its production value is crunchy and raw. It has warmth to it, but still creates that nervous edge that’s so necessary in the techno world.

James McDaniel

A man of many talents, James not only writes about music, he also composes, arranges, teaches, and plays. As an Atlanta area high school band director, he stays busy developing his program and writing and arranging for percussion at his place of work aw well as a number of other Atlanta area schools. He is also a gigging percussionist, playing live and doing studio work for InCrowd of Atlanta. Music is more than a passion for james. It is his lifestyle.