Companion In Crime
Out Of Line/Metropolis
Full disclosure: it’s been at least a decade since I paid Funker Vogt any mind, and even then I wasn’t a fan. During their set at the first Kinetik, Alex and I spent much of their set singing the lyrics of “Tragic Hero” overtop of their other songs after realizing just how many of them relied on the same chord structures, just kicked up or down a key or two. Around the turn of the millennium, that was the book on Funker: formulaic and trite but often catchy EBM with a distinct military obsession. Coming into Companion In Crime, I expected more of the same doofy silliness, but what I found was much more dour and joyless.
Companion In Crime is utterly bereft of the anthemic (if generic) songs with which Funker built their brand. Lacking almost entirely in melody, we’re left with tracks built around flat percussion presets which are given center stage. While vaguely “aggressive”, the bulk of Companion is made up of tracks which recycle Everybody Hates You style beats while forsaking that record’s full-court press in programming which at the time felt undeniable. It isn’t just the music that sounds thin, but also the thematics: “Columbine” would feel less like rote exploitation if [:SITD:] hadn’t trod that same territory to much more thrilling effect a full ten years ago.
I think there’s an attempt at something resembling a dubstep drop on “Gott Noch Nicht”, but it’s as dull as dishwater and ends up blending into the rest of the record’s swampy grey morass. Let’s put it this way: two thirds of the way through Companion In Crime I was praying for something as “provocative” as “Shaven“, which is basically the industrial equivalent of saying “I’d rather read YouTube comments than listen to you talk.”
It takes four tracks to get to anything with a modicum of bounce and melody, and even then “Six Feet Under” and “Kill On Command” each sound like something that would’ve been vaguely adequate on dance floors circa 2000, but there’s no indication of a “return to roots” on it, just a plodding procession through the motions. “Kampf Den Maschinen” feels like a late era leftover from Kontrast or Plastik Noise Experience; not specifically bad, but with slap-happy percussion that betrays its overwise punchy and fun programming. At the thirty-five minute mark “Warrior Of The World” finally gives us one of those archetypal “Tragic Hero” progression tracks about “beating those evil robots”, and the second half of the record shows a tad more energy overall (“The Firm” ports the military theme over to football hooligans to not terrible effect), but it’s far too little, far too late.
I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by Companion In Crime, or even to enjoy it for that matter. All I expected was at least a couple of vaguely hummable, generically arpeggiated tunes about, like, cybercommandos or tactical nuclear strikes or something. Even by this very low standard, the new Funker is a failure. I’ve no idea for how long this bland, humourless style of production has been the mark of new Funker albums, but Companion In Crime‘s sorry state has made me regret checking in.