FUNCKARMA: Vell Vagranz (n5MD)


Posted on Nov 27th 2008 01:50 am

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Funckarma: Vell Vagranz

Vell Vagranz
N5MD 2008
15 Tracks. 73mins07secs

Having fingers in more pies than one could care to count, Dutch duo Funckarma regularly cover a wide array of styles and genres, but it is with their original project that they remain best known. Formed of brothers Don and Roel Funken, who grew up in The Hague, Funckarma first appeared back in 1999 with their debut EP, released on Rotterdam-based Djak-Up-Bitch imprint. Two more released followed that same year, and an album, collecting some of these tracks, was released the following year. Since, they have dispensed EPs and full length records on an impressive number of imprints, from Neo Ouija and Sublight Record to Highpoint Lowlife and n5MD.

Released on Oakland, CA, based n5MD, their latest missive, Vell Vagranz, is undoubtedly the pair’s most eclectic and varied record to date. Effortlessly jumping from abstract glitchy formations to driven drum’n’bass, ambient and urban flavoured electronica, the pair pile a considerable amount in the seventy-three minutes of this record. Despite the wide scope of their endeavour, the Funken brothers remain pretty close to a single sonic template, upon which they extrapolate into anything from minimal flourishes to highly ornate brushes.

Working from a sound pool or granular sounds and glitches, supported by angular grooves and often dark and dense backdrops, the pair carve each track with the same urgency and dedication. From the sunken beats and dark overtones of Woodfaced, which first appeared earlier this year as Woodface on the Highpoint Lowlife EP Dubstoned 1, Unwire, Swame Deff, and the brazen abstractions of the title track, to the lighter tones and vocal smears of Kinnex and Ketayseam, and the peaceful and ethereal hues of Basszen, the pair push their music into a series of fractured terrains which would be equally suited to the likes of Autechre, The Black Dog, The Future Sound Of London or Bola. Even when veering into more open and upbeat grounds, as they do on Fraid Shim, the mood remains somewhat ominous and unequivocally complex. Despite the relentless drum’n’bass motifs of the piece and its forceful appearance, especially when the beat finally kicks in fully, Funckarma refuse to open their soundscapes and let the light in for too long.

Dense and organic, Vell Vagranz is a captivating record, which never ceases to challenge and fascinate. Here, Funckarma take a well-oiled creative process and push the boundaries of their music without losing any of their original appeal. This latest offering, their first full length since their 2006 Sublight record Bion Glent, is a mature and nuanced piece which is likely to satisfy the more demanding listener.


Funckarma | n5MD
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