Remixing Bjork is so hard to screw up that a good remix is hardly a measure of talent. But it isn’t everyday that the Icelandic queen of electronic takes notice. She apparently loved sounding like she was escaping from an underwater prison created by an evil robot in Funkstorung’s excellent remix of “All is Full of Love” so much that she tried to sign the German duo (as did Aphex Twin). It was her loss when the group’s debut, Appetite for Distruction, was released on !K7 in 2000 and capitalized on all of the promise of their early work. Forward thinking and, for a glitch record, dangerously fun, Appetite for Distruction predicted the quickly advancing sound of Prefuse 73 and Dabrye. Funkstorung still couldn’t escape the Autechre comparisons, but isn’t comparing an IDM group to Autechre like comparing a rock group to the Beatles?
Four years later, Funkstorung is using dark production and melodic guest vocals in an attempt to associate themselves with a different legendary electronic act: the similarly unprolific Massive Attack. Restricting themselves to vocal-based tracks (with the exception of five brief vignettes), Disconnected is a disappointing move into blandness for a formerly boundary-pushing band.
Any record that starts out with a lyric that could be mistaken for “semen shoots on the sticky floor” is going to be misinterpreted. But this doesn’t compare to how offensively safe the four tracks with singer Enik are. The music itself fades into the background as lyrics like “You’re a poet, you just don’t know it” on “Like a Poet” make you wonder why Funkstorung made such a large part of the record depend on such a mediocre singer. Forget the brief glitches and ever so slightly mashed vocals, if electronic was played in elevators, this would be what was filtered through the speakers.
The hip-hop here fares a little better. “Chopping Heads” is like mediocre Prefuse 73. “Fat Camp Fever” and “Mr. Important,” the latter with Rob Sonic of Sonic Sum, are probably the best full-length tracks on the album.
A few mildly memorable female vocalist appearances are here, too. Lou Rhodes of Lamb lends her voice to “Sleeping Beauty,” which doesn’t turn out as well as Funkstorung’s remix of Lamb’s “Heaven,” for which this appearance was traded. Sarah Jay, best known for “Dissolved Girl” on Massive Attack’s classic “Mezzanine,” would have the best song on Disconnected with “Captured in Tones” if it weren’t for the cheesy rock guitar layered under it, which is indicative of the problems with the album as a whole.
Disconnected is a needless attempt to attract a crowd that has no connection to the duo’s core audience. By eliminating all of the deconstruction and joy of their earlier work, Funkstorung has proven the sad truth that all musicians really want — no matter where they come from or what they do — is to write pop songs.