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Sascha Funke
(Bpitch Control)

The first release that I heard on the Bpitch Control label out of Germany was Ellen Allien's Berlinette, a stunning album of new school crisp production and old school electronic that hit on all the right notes and will easily find its way into my year-end list. Sascha Funke is the newest effort on the label, and although it has some things in common with Allien (namely a love of an updated, old-school sound), it doesn't quite reach the same dizzying heights as that other disc.

It's not that it doesn't come close, though, as there are some seriously great tracks on Bravo. "Now You Know" opens the release with warm synth pads and crisp beats that punch through the soft focus of the track. Towards the end of the track, some quiet, almost overly-soulful vocals by Fritz Kalkbrenner come into the mix, but they feel almost strange given the rather cool production on the track. "I Just Can't Wait To See You" works a little better, using some serious microprogramming to inject all kinds of unique and interesting sounds into the sputtering track that slowly builds with string synths and another thumping beat.

The other track with Kalkbrenner ("Forms And Shapes") also pushes into almost standard house territory with the seriously soulful vocals and slightly less interesting programming, but the album really hits stride during the middle third, with the bubbling and warm "Strassentanz" (that piles on enough fuzzy layers of sound to give fans of M83 a good rush in the pants) and the dancefloor-pounding album-titled "Bravo." The latter track may just be the best track on the entire disc, as it thumps away at about 140 BPM with a thick 4/4 beat and a 303 squiggle that recalls early work on the Tresor label.

"Twingo" starts out sounding like a rather milquetoast Global Underground trance track before morphing though a pretty section and busting back into a twangy electronic melody that will shoot you back to the early 90s when you were just living it up at your first rave (sorry if I just gave away my age). The latter part of the disc keeps things up pretty well with a good variety of tracks (including a vocal track by Funke that works quite well in "Quiet Please") and another slowly building rave-til-dawn pumper called "Semi." Once again, the production on the album is peerless, and although it's not quite as good as the Allien disc, there are still plenty of gems on this one.

Rating: 7