Soft Gates is one of the many monikers of Istanbul-based noisemaker Berk Çakmakçı. On his debut LP, Life Club -which like the rest of Berk’s work has been made available as a free ZIP download – the music fluctuates between a codeine-soaked analogue orgy and an expressionist depiction of the worst break up of your life.
When I asked Berk what emotions went into Life Club, he told me that it was monochromatic, that it was about being passive in an extremely intense time. “It is emotionally overcharged to the point that it becomes numb.” Perhaps a reaction to the gleeful disaffected youth of the “chillwave” “movement”, Berk makes dreamy club music that is brooding and slow; combining the analogue beats of Grandmaster Flash, the minimalism of Neu! and the hysteria of being chased by the T-1000. Berk told me he usually records late at night, “when everyone is asleep.”
Berk connects his love of club music to his youth; “I’ve always thought that nightlife was at its best when me and my friends were starting to discover it, which was around our late teenage years…we perceived nightlife as glamorous and mystical.” Life Club connects the electronic and the transcendental through the glow of nostalgia and despair. The record’s banger, “Sports,” begins as if it is going to be a 20-minute abs jingle before an onslaught of darkwave synth and ricocheting feedback force you beyond the shining grey apocalypse.
Download Life Club here and check out the video for “Tidal Mind,” which features Çakmakçı tickling the ivories in a dark parking garage, as if he had slept walked his way there.