Funkstorung Disconnected Review

Released 2004.  

BBC Review

The follow up to 2000's 'Appetite For Discstruction' sees Funkstorung return with a...

Jack Smith 2004

Back when electronic music had a pony tail and zits, and Germany was taking over the world with uber-techno and trance, Funkstorung decided to combine their love of late 80s hip hop with the more 'intelligent' bleep and bass sounds emerging from Sheffield.

Over the last decade or so, they have honed this dual aesthetic into a distinctive sound that critics love to call deconstructionist; a purposefully ambiguous term at the best of times, but one with suitably post-modern (i.e. hip) connotations.

Intellectual theorising aside, Funkstorung's sound developed into something unique; a sinewy brand of crunchy computer beats, scratchy glitch-hop and the occasional song structure.

Their masterful reworkings of Bjork and Wu Tang Clan helped establish their strong-arm sound within the mainstream but more significantly it showed the pair that vocals ­ sung or rapped ­merged well with their music.

Disconnected, their first proper album since 2000's Appetite For Discstruction, stretches their repertoire more, incorporating extra in the way of colours, moods, melodies and textures, without sacrificing their digital core.

Most notably, Disconnected offers us songs: songs that sway a little, songs that wobble a lot, songs that sound like they've being put through a shredder ­ but songs all the same.

Most prominent on the album is 23 year old multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist (from Munich) Enik, who features on the plaintive opener "Cement Shoes". Other tracks ­ "Disconnected", "Moon Addicted" - showcase his sonorous talents extremely well, as well as exposing the producers as capable songwriters.

Elsewhere, higher profile guests appear; Lamb's Lou Rhodes on the squiggly folktronica set "Sleeping Beauty", and Sarah Jay of Massive Attack fame on the aching, cinematic closer "Capture In Tones".

These exercises in romantic robotica are marked by Funkstorung's imposing production style, where the very fabric of the digital space they work in is stretched, scratched and rent asunder to create itchy, distressed sub-rhythms and sounds.

Nowhere is their technique more exhilarating than on the album's hip hop tracks.

"Chopping Heads" and "Fat Camp Feva" (featuring Lex Records signing Tes), and "Mr. Important" (featuring Rob Sonic) are visceral, blends of abstract digi-production and heavily affected raps - chopped, diced and blended a la Prefuse 73 and Dabyre, and spat back out as feisty, ass-kicking fragments.

Scandinavian jazz don Nils Petter Molvaer helps transform the dusty jazz loop of 'Dirt Empire' into a quasi-mystical Bitches Brew moment, and on "Habitual Citizens", Mark Boombastic's beatboxing is ripped to ribbons by kung-fu fighting electrodes.

It's tough to find too many flaws within individual tracks on Disconnected, though their quest for a diverse and more 'open' album has doubtless resulted in a slightly less explosive experience overall than it could have been.

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