DJs know them as crafters of cracking tracks on wax. Clubbers around the world know them as a live act that hurtles like a runaway train. But these statements tell only part of the story behind Exercise One, the Berlin-based duo comprised of Marco Freivogel and Ingo Gansera. Both seasoned musicians before they met, it didn’t take much before their respective backgrounds as live performers combined with the energy of Berlin to spawn an electronic music group with an unprecedented take on the creative process. After working alongside one another at a label, the two began producing and experimenting in their own free time, playing over ten live gigs before their first record release. This musical world-view – that production and live performance have a symbiotic relationship – has guided Exercise One on their journey from underground sensation to heavyweights in the Berlin electronic music scene, with their evolution as artists going hand-in-hand with their development a live act. The creation of their own label Lan Muzic in 2005 jump-started their careers when their first record – the Kitchen Tools E.P. – found its way into Anja Schneider’s DJ box. Schneider immediately signed the duo and within the year they had released their first 12’ on mobilee “Steady Pulse” – a raw, grimy take on minimal techno that set the stage for what was to come. 2006 saw the release of “Debaya,” perhaps one of the most important steps in the early throes of their musical odyssey, synthesizing hypnotic and atmospheric basslines with the stripped-down sound with which they made their names. After garnering immense critical acclaim, the duo made their landmark live appearance at the Sonar music festival and shortly thereafter began their seemingly endless string of performances at highly distinguished festivals and venues such as Fabric, Panorama Bar, and Fusion and tours throughout Europe, Japan, South America and United States. In addition to release after release of highly lauded techno – including “Dark Star,” “Intensity” and remix work for the likes of Sebo K and Shackleton – Exercise One continue to refine their notoriously high-energy live sets, perpetually adding, subtracting, and reorganising the pieces of this unique mosaic. Whether performing onstage or practicing and recording, music making is a fundamentally live endeavour for Exercise One, sometimes to the extent of producing entirely new tracks just for the purposes of their live set. This all happens in real time, the fortuitous result of painstaking preparation, communication and the willingness to go where the music and their constantly developing tastes lead them. Produced and finessed over many months, their debut album ‘In Cars We Rust’ is the studio product of their hands-on approach: passages of spontaneous creation are edited, collaged and remixed into a strikingly varied, startlingly cohesive whole. The dance-floor stormers are still there and the record’s flow is guided by the same spirit of improvisation that drives their live sets. But the clubbier material is rounded out by sounds we’ve never heard from Exercise One before: gorgeous, enveloping ambient tracks; soundtrack-ready synthesizer ballads; even a kind of retro-futurist electro-pop. Best of all, it all hangs together with ease. A testament to their studio and live efforts, their debut album eliminates any doubts that the enthusiasm that led to their founding moments in a basement in Kreuzberg is wearing out. Exercise One continue their migration through the hinterland of techno; round and round they go, where they stop nobody knows.
Marco Freivogel , Ingo Gansera