AV Mix Series - Barren Sector

AV Mix Series - Barren Sector

For number seventeen, we have Ahmad Khaliq aka Barren Sector serving up a highly compelling 4x4 odyssey that makes you long for giant speakers and a space to lose yourself in.  

You might have heard Ahmad's music through his vital contributions in bands like Amateur Takes Control and T-REX. His recent remix of TAV Records artist Intriguant's track, 'Your Love' from 'Spirits' (AV003LP) is a whole other thing, and really caught our attention. Have a listen to find out why: 

His meticulous attention to detail is apparent in his selections too, and with this mix, it's met with an astute sense of energy, emotion and intent. Press play for a well paced journey through that ever elusive zone between deep listening and body moving, and scroll down for the interview & tracklist.


Thanks for doing this mix! Can you speak a bit about how you approached it? 

Thank you for having me! It was equally challenging and fun curating this mix for you guys and the listeners.

I thought of how could i bridge the gap between deep listening and body moving without compromising my sound. I wanted to showcase my style not only for the floor but taking care of the general listeners as well.

The mix started out with a track called ‘Zero Is My Country’ by Underground Resistance. An instrumental track with some post apocalyptic components. In my mind, it tells a story about the current political and environmental distress that is happening around the world. The second track offered a sense of hope, freedom and peace.

The third track perfectly depicts the state of our minds at this point, at least for me.

'Time is running out for us
But you just move the hands upon the clock
You throw coins in a wishing well, wake up
You just move your hands upon the clock'

- The Clock - Thom Yorke
Masterfully remixed by Surgeon

The rest of the mix carries itself. Going back and forth with moody and utopian elements, sci-fi textures, accompanied by tough grooves. For me, it's a demonstration of a certain shade of techno that I like. Its a reflective and subjective genre and at the end of the day, I hope that im able to relay some messages, told or untold stories through this set.

That opening track got us hooked! What’s the story with that one?

I needed a certain kind of vibe to start off with since I'm DJ-ing for myself with no energy to feed off from. It has a beautiful track and all the elements that represents the sort of theme and journey I'm going for. It was something i had in mind for a while, to start off a set with a down tempo moody tune. This mix series gave me an opportunity to do that, so thank you!

Let’s hear a bit about your journey into electronic music. How’d you get interested in it and what inspired the fascination?

My two sisters would turn on MTV and the radio 24/7 back in the 90s and 2000s. I thank them for that. I chanced upon artists such as The Prodigy, Massive Attack, Kylie Minogue, Bjork, Moby, stuff like that. It was weird and uncomfortable, in a good way, being exposed to all those styles as a kid. It was new territory for me but was I curious with the sounds that came with it. It was almost impossible to produce that on real instruments. I grew up appreciating those artist and they've been present in my playlist eversince.

2011 was a breakthrough year for me in my electronic music journey. I discovered the album aMOTION by A Perfect Circle, Burial's Untrue and selections of Minimal/Detroit techno through a friend. The unheard frequencies, the dystopian elements, they speak to me like no other, in a way, relatable and understood. It made me feel a certain way.

I was very fond of it. Spent a lot of hours researching and digging online over the next couple of years that I fell down a rabbit of hole of techno. After which it is was all about educating myself. I spent every winter travelling around Europe, to breathe in the culture, to understand what it truly meant and represents. More importantly, it thought me deep and critical listening, appreciating the subtleties and it has definitely improved me as a musician, 100%.

We really like what you’ve done with Intriguant’s track on his remix compilation for ‘Your Love.’ Could you tell us about your approach here? 

Thank you! I’m quite familiar with the track, prior to his remix announcement. I spent a few days listening to the track religiously, trying to tap into Louis’s thought process and how he'd go about writing it. I wanted to capture the core and essence of the song and create my own rendition of it. It couldn't be just a track for the dancefloor. The more I hear it, the less dancy it became.
I thought to myself, its an emotionally-haunting track, in my head at least. I ended up using just the vocals as a foundation, experimenting with counter synth melodies and let the music flow. That was pretty much it. The beats and everything else came into place nicely. It was more of a brainstorming process.

What’s next for Barren Sector? 

I’m just writing, doing sound designs and practicing production daily. I’m addicted to it. Even if it’s for a 15 minute break at work. There are tracks that i really love and there are tracks that mean nothing to me. Of course, I sincerely do hope to release something this year. Im little bit careful about that. No pressure to myself. I just wanna release solid music, you know? I do hope to collaborate with other artists, doing sound design work, a couple of remix projects if an opportunity arises. Time to time, I’ll practice on vinyls or dig for new music. On a side note, I’m working on productions for a bedroom indie artist and I’m having a lot of fun with that.

Oh yes, I’m also collaborating with a good friend of mine and a contemporary dance group for a live improv session in late April. Its gonna be exciting and hope it'll be recorded.


Zero Is My Country - Underground Resistance
Movements (Chapter III) - Leon Vynehall
The Clock (Surgeon Remix) - Thom Yorke, Surgeon
Processed Hammer - Franz Jäger
Change Mode - Fergus Sweetland
Erudite - TWR72
Beta 01 - Pfirter & Oliver Rosemann
Atomo - Divide
Blade Runner (Zadig Remix) - Woo York
Litter - Deauwd
Aeon - Jeroen Search
Functional - Slam
Escape From The Echo Room - D. Dan
CLR 02 - Umek
Minimize - Truncate
Black Star - Patrick Walker
Surveyor - Dustmite
Ttfo - Troy
Positive Education (Shlomo Remix) - Slam
Occino - Nørbak
Pattern One - Cleric
Ensemble (Anthony Linell Remix) - Par Grindvik
Zoom Out - Eric Fetcher
Tilt - Dustmite

Follow Barren Sector:

AV Mix Series - Claude Glass

AV Mix Series - Claude Glass

The 16th entry to our mix series is brought to you by Isa Ong, the man behind the stunning Claude Glass debut on Syndicate late last year - Isekai. His contributions to local music have reached far and wide via his long running, deep involvement in bands like Amateur Takes Control, sub:shaman and Pleasantry. In this mixtape, Claude Glass takes us through an intense 45 minutes of pure rage rave, throwing conventions out the window and screaming straight into your soul. You aren't doing this right if you're not squirming inside. Scroll down for the interview.

Thanks for doing this for us! Big honour. You said this was your first mixtape - how'd you go about approaching this? 

Thanks for having me! I had so much fun putting this together, especially since it was my first ever mixtape. It was a pretty daunting task too (even though it’s only 45 minutes).

I suppose I approached it to similar to how I’d usually go about planning a live set for one of my bands – it’s always been a mixture of sustaining the audience’s attention, creating a narrative through the tracklist, and having enough peaks and troughs for listeners to cling on to. Since I’m not a DJ, this was pretty much the only exercise I could tap into as far as creating a mixtape.

For this one in particular, all I knew was that I wanted it to sound bold, powerful and had some very in-your-face moments. I’ve come to realize that I’ve always gravitated towards percussion-heavy tracks and rhythmic/groove-oriented ones – even across indie pop, experimental rock and pop. I wanted to present a set of tracks that I felt married that rhythmic-centric approach with a manic, crazed and almost absurd edge to it

Was there much of a difference for you between piecing together a mixtape and say, choosing material for your 10 Tracks feature on Singapore Community Radio

It was really different for me, actually. It definitely felt easier doing up a track-by-track playlist like the one I did for SGCR, as I didn’t have to worry as much about the literal transitions between songs.

This is of course coming from a non-DJ haha, so I’m going to sound noob, but I found myself thinking a lot more about the elements that comprised the intro and outro of songs, as it really allowed me to create some contrast between songs, as far as transitions go. I think that contrast helps create drama and/or tension (hopefully). Similar to songwriting and arranging, to me, it’s always about how sections work relative to each other, and that I suppose, creates flow and prevents monotony.

Overall this feels like an even deeper dive into the world of Isekai - there's that feeling of being helplessly thrust into situations beyond your control that sticks out to us. It tells a pretty intense story - could you speak a little about the narrative you chose to go with here?

Thanks for giving the EP a listen! Really appreciate that! You’re absolutely right about how its connection to Isekai - I had a similar feeling putting this together too, although I would’ve loved throwing in some older schmaltzy jazz vocal tracks, but they were just too difficult for me to include in the mix.

I’d say the mix’s (and Isekai’s) narrative relates quite closely to what I had mentioned before about contrast and tension. I just wanted to create something that felt manic and unpredictable yet beautiful all at the same time. I think it’s about capturing that feeling of being taken on a ride, with all its twists and turns, and how there’s a certain joy in embracing that ride for all that it is.

The ebb and flow of the whole mix is erratic, but also relentlessly strong and steady at the same time. How'd you go about making your selections and how did you decide where they'd live in the mix? 

I tried my best to select tracks that were hard-hitting, bold and had a lot of interesting sections to them. Most of the tracks also felt more like songs to me in terms of its arrangement, structure and instrumentation, rather than stuff tailored for the dance floor. I suppose it’s just something I tend to gravitate towards, being more a songwriter myself, and largely because I know nothing about the purist’s side of house, techno or drum and bass and I really won’t pretend to.

Each track’s position in the mix essentially boiled down to its overall feel, and how their intros and outros felt like to me. Just as an example, in order to make things feel more interesting (at least to me), I paired up drum outros with vocal intros, and that seemed to create more colour and texture in the transition.
I’d say I only knew what the start and end tracks were, and everything else in between was determined by its overall feel, and how successful I could be at crafting their transitions. I knew I wanted to start strong from the get go, just to give a taste of how the rest of the mixtape would sound, and I knew I didn’t want the entire mix to be completely electronic either, so Machine Girl seemed perfect. And I for some reason wanted to end the mix with a drum and bass thing, so that happened too. I did use certain tracks from Ian Chang and Dos Monos purely for how stark they’d sound beside other tracks. Just for a little colour and fun in between.

Any closing words?

It was really fun putting it together! I’d definitely love to learn some other ways of doing this rather than that caveman Ableton Live method I showed you haha.

• (0:00 - 2:44) Machine Girl - This Is Your Face on Dogs
• (2:44 - 4:36) Show Me the Body, Moor Mother - Everything Hate (here)
• (4:36 - 7:48) Zach Hill - The Primitives Talk
• (7:48 - 10:23) Jigga - Nitya
• (10:23 - 14:12) 33EMYBW - Adam Bank
• (14:12 - 18:06) Ecko Bazz - Nightmare song
• (18:06 - 20:30) Arca - Rip the Slit
• (20:30 - 22:37) Giant Swan - 55 Year Old Daughter
• (22:37 - 23:35) Ian Chang - Swarm
• (23:35 - 25:58) Lightning Bolt - The Metal East
• (25:58 - 28:18) Dos Monos - Mammoth vs. Dos Monos
• (28:18 - 31:42) Jockstrap - Robert
• (31:42 - 34:59) Loraine James, Le3 bLACK - London Ting // Dark As Fuck
• (34:59 - 37:17) Amnesia Scanner - AS Chaos (feat. Pan Daijing)
• (37:17 - 39:54) Deli Girls, Leech - loaded gun
• (39:54 - 41:48) Hudson Mohawke - Spruce Illest

Listen to Isekai: