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Atlanta is treated to strange beats from laptops and sadly disfunctional pop music.
Thursday, June 17th
Eyedrum - Atlanta, GA

I have waited to see Funkst?rung for several years. Although I've been less-than-enthusiastic about their newest release, Disconnected, the prospect of the duo bringing any version of their glitched-out stuttering beats to Atlanta was somewhat magical. Funkst?rung were among the first artists to reconnect with the groove and make some sense back out of the overly-mathematical and calculated, programmatic direction that forward-thinking electronic dance music was taking in the wake of increased exposure for people like Autechre. An attempt to bring the boys here some time ago was met with a general lack of interest and thus, it wasn't until they made a more deliberate move towards pop music that there was a sensible time and place for them to play.

Local MC Zano opened the show with a singularly-styled vocal delivery over sometimes-odd, sometimes-basic hip-hop loops. He appeared to be openly freestyling the whole time, with a degree of skill I haven't seen since catching Common in Tampa in '97, (before his Coke commercial success.) Watching someone flow when you know they are just making shit up as it comes to mind is one of the truly wonderous experiences to be had when going out to these kinds of shows. In no other place do rhymes about Gandalf, Martha Stewart, Akira, and Lodoss War make any sort of sense Zano was followd by Incept Date who perform in a different configuration just about every time I see them. Their mixture of muted guitar and organ stabs, record crackling and ethereal washes of electronics and noise are the perfect compliment to their punchy MPC beats.

Funkst?rung was preceeded then by a short solo set from Enik, the vocalist who dominates (and in many cases obstructs) most of the new record. Enik's solo material was not unlike his work with Funkst?rung and there's no doubt that he is a capable singer and natural-born front man. However, I can't shake the feeling that he sounds like a European Dave Matthews, and as much as he isn't trying to be that, his voice just has an unfortunate similarity that makes it difficult to enjoy. One laptop gave way to two more, and the Funkst?rung set began with some instrumental selections from the new record. Funkst?rung perform using the uber-popular Ableton Live application, which is important insofar is the application is really the heart of the Funkst?rung live sound. It's probably just as, if not more influential to their sound than the type of guitar used at a blues gig or the type of amps used by rock bands.

They were eventually joined onstage by Enik for the pop portion of the set and it frankly didn't work for me. It's strange to watch the composition of a band completely change when someone starts to sing, but the ever-present effect of the frontman upstaging his players was all too evident. The laptops continued to pump and click away, often abusing the PA's sensitive side, but with Enik on the mic, everything else seemed to fade into the background, which was a shame. Funkst?rung have written some very lovely pop songs on Disconnected but they seemed more at home cutting up Snoop Dogg samples and glitching-out hip-hop drum machine madness after Enik sat back down. Maybe the pop album was a noble experiment for the group who have had their greatest success when mangling the pop stylings of others like Bj?rk and Lamb, but even in the arena of live performance Funkst?rung shine brightest when left alone with their computers.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 July 2005 17:36  


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