Enough time has passed, and enough artists have shamelessly Xeroxed the template, that we could now deign ‘Early Kompakt’ its own genre, as opposed to a formative period in the German label’s pro-pop campaign. Sascha Funke punches that equation into the calculator a few times on Mango. On “Take a Chance with Me,” the elegant lines, unyielding boom-tick, and blocky, grayscale drones all owe something to Kompakt in the late 1990s. And why shouldn’t they? Funke was one of the originators, flying high with the label when their catalogue ran to double digits.
Songs like “Take a Chance with Me,” and the opening title track, are Funke in his prime. “Double-Checked” pings along with piston precision, each note piercing the song’s surface like a typewriter branding Braille into parchment. Hi-hats hiss like gas leaks, while dried-out handclaps crunch honeycomb between your palms. With reduction his natural modus operandi, Funke is great at both tech-house’s weightless glide and skip, and the unassuming rendering of detail required for minimal. In its light, springy step and pleasingly reflective surfaces, Funke’s best productions are Apollonian, with no glumness to sour the softness.
On “Summer Rain,” field recordings and guitars, tolling into an echo chamber, are close to the Pop Ambient territory of peers like Klimek; the eighties syn-drums and clichéd tones of “Lotre (Mehr Fleisch)” don’t sit quite so well, feeling out of place on a record of such subtlety.
Admittedly, Mango isn’t riveting listening, but it’s a good, focused album, and where a lot of minimal recently has lost the plot trying to over-reach itself, Funke’s productions quietly test their boundaries even while they play out as formal exemplars.