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Sascha Funke - Bravo

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Artist: Sascha Funke

Album: Bravo

Label: Bpitch Control

Review date: Nov. 13, 2003

By the very nature of the ‘review’, it is natural and in fact necessary to carry out a process of comparison, especially when two discs are seeing their twilight releases at the same hour of the electronic tangent. I’d like to refer the concerned reader to a review of Process’ Spectra on Traum. To recapsulate, Process’ latest was a hearken and a return to an early ’90s Detroit-style of techno sequences, jazz improv, and syncopated 4/4 that undermined the click-n-micro generality as of late. A tentative exploration to an origin, it nonetheless homogenized a gesture that could have seen a stronger reinterpretation of the black arts.

Which brings us to Sascha Funke. Funke’s releases on Force Inc. and other similar techno and minimal house labels are to be found in my crate alongside Hakan Lidbo, MRI, Luomo and other like-minded composers. Meaning that Funke’s recombination of house through techno and vice-versa usually brings a holotropic depth to the floor. Funke’s newest missive, bravo on Bpitch Control, sets forth a return to roots that, in its comparative mode, exceeds that of Process – direct to Detroit, this release, replete with pitch-shifted synth pads, techno percussion, and a sounding of the deep, it resounds the echoes of the early ’90s with a sentimentality and verve that is nothing short of sincere.

It also sounds nothing like those records of the early ’90s.

Indeed, it rebounds from a resampling of the ’80s – but not an ’80s of the cocaine nosejob. This is the ’80s that led into the ’90s. The ‘alternative’ era, even, as acoustic guitar is interweaved into patterns of synth, flute, and non-traditional percussion (although the patterns of the 909 appear, the actual high-hats do not). The 4/4 itself is completely undone all over the album (with looping, non dj-able tracks). Moreover, a dominant linearity of the track (not unlike Ricardo Villalobos) tugs at the incessant loops, staging a tension between a debt to Steve Reich and Philip Glass. And what sets Funke apart, that drive behind the beats, is that which, unnameable & improvised in the sequencing of the moment, sets his tones as melancholic to the dark sweating of the soul, so predominant in Villalobos’ hazy eyes, and so markedly absent from Funke¹s nightdrives of the introspective. What sets Funke apart is the force which drives melancholy to the fore. What sets Funke apart is an immersion to a past patiently carved for the future.

Funke is onto something else, and this gives him the breathing room to express it fully: there is a melancholy, a striving to find voice through sentiment. I want to talk to you...: this is what speaks at the commencement of “quiet please”, which is quite possibly the first techno track to combine handclaps with microsound bleeps and Detroit synth pads...at the same time, the vocal doesn’t find it necessary to repeat incessantly, over-abundantly, and with the vulgarities of excess found in the worst of aping-the-’80s attempts. Quite openly, but with a shade of reserve, if not shyness, yet funk, Sascha Funke is making music that is of now, not a simulacrum of yester-year, while addressing all those ghosts that so many composers are fighting, appropriating, hiding, stealing, and to a lesser degree mourning, as we witness not only the death, the final death, the sell-out, the commercialization (long gone), but the burial, and again, not only of electronic subculture, rave culture, technoculture, and so on, but the very death of the subcultural model, now (and in the words of Twerk) rendered useless by our own blind advance toward the promises of technology.

Sascha Funke, as the last, remaindered & hidden track on the album supposes, just wants to dance – ‘without publicity’. This album will find its own movement beyond the media and the criticisms, in the rhythm of the dance beyond the dance.

By tobias c. van Veen

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