Funkstörung ‘Funkstörung’ (Monkeytown)

Back with their first new release in 10 years, the German duo aren’t messing around

Crack German outfit Funkstörung don’t do things by halves. Theirs was the pioneering electronic template that would eventually be termed “glitch hop”. And after a glut of releases on various labels, they provided killer remixes for pop glitterati such as Björk, Jean-Michel Jarre and the Wu-Tang Clan. But after disbanding in 2006, they’ve been off the radar – as a duo, at least. Now, after nearly 10 years of silence, the IDM-toting twosome are back.

Chris De Luca and Michael Fakesch have always been big on brash visual statements. After all, their lavishly packaged 2004 design book/DVD, ‘Isolated. Funkstörung. Triple Media’, featured the work of 40 graphic designers. So, true to form, the sleeve for their comeback record – depicting a sort of bright, phallic spaceship hovering over a mountainous landscape, designed by lauded graphic artists Zeitguised and Sebastian Onufszak – announces their long overdue return in colourful terms.

Not that the pair have been sitting around idly twiddling their thumbs in between times, of course. Both have had various solo projects (DJing, remixing, soundtracks, etc) on the go. And after years apart, they finally reconvened to work on last year’s Mouse On Mars’ ‘21 Again’ album and properly reconnected – so much so that they apparently ended up playing each other their favourite tracks from the “lost” decade.

Ironically, the hiatus seems to have imbued Funkstörung with fresh impetus; their new material sounds significantly richer and more resonant than the back catalogue, groundbreaking though that was. They describe this latest work as “evolution not revolution”, so while funky distortions, glitches, clicks and breaks still pervade the mix, the sound – sleek, well-defined and soulful – feels more streamlined than ever.

Picking up where 2004’s ‘Disconnected’ left off, De Luca and Fakesch have cleverly tempered their complex, Autechre-lite rhythms with honeyed pop, ornate melodies, and a guestlist of illustrious singers (vocals feature on almost every track). ‘Funkstörung’ is no elementary redux, though. The pair are clearly sticklers for detail. Thick with atmosphere and replete with fat, bassy textures, the production here veritably glistens, with seemingly every bit of the album’s electronic ebb and flow honed to perfection.

It all hangs together beautifully, from the sensuous, sinewy opener ‘Fall Into You’, featuring Australian electronic duo Audego, to the clattering synth rumble of ‘Laid Out’ and the lustrous, hip hoppy ‘So Simple’, tailor-made for Jamie Lidell’s heartfelt croon. Scintillating instrumental interludes add further richness, but the doozy vocal tracks just keep on coming. On ‘Killers’, for example, a heightened groove and an edgy mood creates the song’s requisite tension, while Swedish troubadour Jay-Jay Johanson adds his alluring, deep-toned brand of melancholy to ‘I Love Him So’.

A great big immersive blanket of a record, ‘Funkstörung’ feels complete in every sense. It demands to be fully experienced and absorbed. It’s a glorious return that finds De Luca and Fakesch on glittering form, so much sharper and more expansive than we could ever have hoped for. Funkstörung, we’ve missed you. Just don’t leave it so long next time, eh?

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