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9/10 from Ant (Staff) on 01 March 2013
David Sumner has been recording and releasing records as Function since 1996 when he first emerged on fellow NYC techno don Damon Wild's Synewave label and later went on to spawn his Infrastructure New York label in 1998 with the release of 'The Dielectric Coefficient' which really blew me away at the time. He's been prolific in the 12" format but has never released an album as Function until now. His role as part of Sandwell District increased his profile somewhat along with the success of 2007's 'Isolation' 12" which was a benchmark in what is often referred to as the "Berghain sound" It's no surprise then that his debut album should emerge on Berghain associated label Ostgut Ton. His distillation of early Sahko and Basic Channel continues to influence the current wave of deep droning, delay and reverb coated techno.
'Voiceprint' sets the scene with a vocal snippet, bleepy melodies and brooding bass all plastered in cavernous delay before 'Against The Wall' plunges deep into small hours hypnotic and mesmerising techno complete with bubbling acid. It becomes clear at this point that Sumner has upped his game as the production here is immaculate. 'Counterpoint' is a tingle inducing burst of shimmering beatless techno that demonstrates his scope as a producer and his abilities beyond the dancefloor productions. Fear not as 'Modifier' is aimed squarely at the floor, functional and perhaps minimal on the surface to begin with but really a ton happening as the creepy and dark atmospherics unfold. It reminds me a little of what Milton Bradley has been up to. Again tweaked to perfection with assistance from fellow Berlin resident Tobias Freund taking care of mixing duties.
The darkness increases with the gloomy 'Incubation (Duties)' with widescreen synths really complementing the almost paranoid sounding drum loops and painting a dystopian sci-fi landscape. Meanwhile 'Inter' recalls Basic Channel with sweet dubbed out keys and a French dialogue sample that adds an extra dimension. 'Voiceprint' stomps hard with a pounder of a kick, lush atmospherics and a very "classic" techno feel making me think of a cross between Urban Tribe's 'Insolitology' and Eon's 'Kind of Living'.
'Psychic Warfare' is perfect for those moments of being lost in smoke and strobes with its potent atmospherics and subtle darkside acid. 'Gradient I' closes the CD edition but more on that when the 12" drops.
If like me you've been following this guy for many years or have been enjoying his later output on and with Sandwell District then I can totally recommend 'Incubation' as it's a "proper" album that will sound immense during club play but equally as satisfying listening at home. In a week where Autechre will no doubt be grabbing most attention in the world of electronic music do take the time to check out this record. An album that effortlessly balances hypnotic rhythms with dark brooding bass and some genuinely gorgeous, tender moments. Highly recommended and to these ears well worth the wait, showing just how much Sumner has evolved and refined his sound and grown as artist.
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Incubation by Function. Vinyl Double LP. OSTGUTLP12.
Incubation by Function. CD. OSTGUTCD24.
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