Legiac :: The Faex Has Decimated (Tympanik Audio)

It hits so hard and sounds so ear-ticklingly right…

Legiac :: The Faex Has Decimated (Tympanik Audio)

There was a time when it seemed like the Funcken brothers released a new album monthly. Under one of their many aliases (Quench, Funckarma, Cane), singly or as collaborations with other artists (Dif:use, Shadow Huntaz), then between 2001 and somewhere around 2006 the joints dropped fast and hit hard. The diversity and volume of the output somehow didn’t diffuse its quality, nor the stylistic elements that made their fingerprint so identifiable: ultra-tight sound design, flowing crunchy percussion, and a wandering, exploratory character to the melodies.

But somewhere along the line, perhaps as they moved to more digital distribution through their Funcken Industry site, the brothers’ output tapered off. So it’s exciting to see this latest release, a resurrection of the Dif:use collaboration with Cor Bolten on Tympanik Audio; however, unlike Mings Feaner (Sending Orbs, 2007) Roel is the only Funcken credited here. The odd title is perhaps a callback to the earlier album, which had a track called “Faex Decimate,” and as we’ll see many of the tracks here seem to be titled in jest, or at least with a sly wink.

The album opens with a nice ambient piece “Keplerian Orbit,” reminiscent of FSOL’s sound collage pieces on Dead Cities, featuring a twinkling dulcimer sound backed by fat swells of analog bass. When “Mantikytheria Echanism” (the name presumably a Spoonerism on the Greek timepiece known as the Antikytheria Mechanism) opens up, it’s obvious who’s on the controls: synth stabs and granular crunch evoke the Funckens of old. There’s a sense of verve and mastery in the song that comes up repeatedly through the album, and unlike some collaborations which end up overloading the sonic palette, the restraint here is admirable. “Jefre Treminth” starts out beatless and gradually fills in the space between notes until it’s nearly at Richard Devine’s level of density—but only for a moment, before drifting off. “Bizoid Stroke” and “Strain Detach” further develop the theme: fast movement in the percussion, washes of synthetic texture, and bleeps a-plenty to keep the listener’s mind engaged.

“Conazol Ketamind”—whose name I am somewhat afraid to try to decipher—provides a pleasant ambient break with a beatless, ethereally drifting four minutes, which give your senses a chance to reset before the eponymous song begins. It superficially follows a similar song structure to several other tracks: intro, beatless bridge, then bring the beat back, but it hits so hard and sounds so ear-ticklingly right that I find it hard to fault them. There are layers upon layers of sound design, mixtures of effects and modes of synthesis that are tough to pick apart, so I just gave up and gave in to the sensation. Dope, and truly deserving of title track honors.

Then the trio of “Mellar Stass,” “Hannabinoid Cyperemesis,” and “Row Glodation” continue the Spooner-ised title treatment and lay out additional explorations in the mode thus established. These tracks, respectively, deliver colossal dubstep hits on the first, a fittingly sedated-sounding ambient interlude for the second, while the last brings a stuttery glitch workout that extends the IDM/industrial milieu Tympanik artists like Access to Arasaka and Candle Nine rock.

“Sevastopol’s Nexus” is perhaps the most ominous track on the album. Cyberpunk static meets with distorted, bassy vocal samples in a groaning, creaking forced marriage. “Gliese581c” provides the soundtrack for docking your Firefly-class space hauler at the space port—equal parts terror and serenity. Finally, “Jefre Tramix” sends us off to dreamland with a beatless reprise of the “Jefre Treminth” theme from earlier in the album.

Overall this is a wide ranging and exceptionally well-developed album from artists who are clearly comfortable with their sound and with each other. I’ve kept it on heavy rotation and keep finding new sonic corners to get lost in; I hope its success sparks a resurgence in more Funcken output as well.

The Faex Has Decimated is available on Tympanik Audio.

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