The Outsiders: Vol. 4

Not all of Stereogum’s favorite sounds conform to what folks expect us to cover. In this space, resident Bananafish fetishist Brandon Stosuy focuses on bands, albums, singles, and villages in Sweden that may otherwise pass by unnoticed. This installment’s eclectic virtual milk crate contains Sascha Funke, Jon Mueller, and Collections Of Colonies Of Bees.

I really like Sascha Funke’s new record Mango, which comes out (around) 2/11 on BPitch Control. I’m not always sucked into electronic albums, but there’s something about the melancholia and dark iciness woven through the gurgling beats that gets me. I decided to ask the German DJ/producer a few questions, so I could put more of a human touch behind the clicks and thumps of something I can’t stop playing.

STEREOGUM: I’m curious about the story behind the title Mango.

SASCHA FUNKE: Last year during the summer I traveled a lot with my fellows Superpitcher and Tobias Thomas. We created some code words, and mango is the word for something very beautiful and unique.

STEREOGUM: How about the concept for the cover image?

SASCHA FUNKE: It was an idea of Ellen [Allien] and me. I didn’t cut my hair for seven months (so I looked quite different), and when I arrived back from my vacation in Aix En Provence, we did the shooting with the photographer Ragnar Schmuck. He also did a lot for Geman music magazines [like] Groove or Spex.

STEREOGUM: How do you approach an album of new material versus a mixing project? I realize there’s the difference of composition versus retooling and highlighting different sounds, or shifting others, but I’m interested in the similarities and overlaps. Maybe explain briefly one versus the other and where any similarities occur?

SASCHA FUNKE: Basically, [an] album is completely different, you’re going much deeper into your own language of music. If you do singles it’s like a picture, but an album is a complete movie. I listened to so much pop music that my way of producing is definitely influenced by this fact. That’s why it takes so long. On the other hand, it’s always a big luck and a chance to produce an album, you have much more options to show your personal side. That’s why I don’t understand why so many producers are doing exactly the same [thing] on [their] albums and singles. About the mixing project, I can’t say that much. I did just one cd (Boogie Bytes), and i did it in the classic way, with records. But I love DJing so much that I would never play live. It’s too boring for me.

STEREOGUM What’s the story behind the last song on the album, “The Fortune Cookie Symphony”? It’s a sort of incidental, but oddly hip-hop feeling piece. Sonically it links to the more ambient approach to “Summer Rain,” minus the vocal.

SASCHA FUNKE: Yes, you’re right. It has the same mood. The lyrics were written and spoken by Fritz Kalkbrenner. First we named it “Dream On,” but he decided to name the track “The Fortune Cookie Symphony,” because it’s full of pathetic and preacherman words that it would be too cheesy, so we named it more ironic. I put “Summer Rain” into the middle, because it’s the end of the first part of Mango. The rain is refreshing.

STEREOGUM What are we to make of the allusion in the title of “Take A Chance With Me”? I mean Roxy Music.

SASCHA FUNKE: Congratulation, it’s Roxy Music … It’s also because of the track after (“Feather”) is for my girlfriend. If you read “Feather, Take A Chance With Me,” this is the final hidden sense. ;)


His winky eye, not mine.

Sascha Funke
[photo by Ragnar Schmuck]

It’s up to you to unpack “We Are Facing The Sun.”

This week I’ve also been into two Table Of The Elements releases by two longtime faves, the quintet Collections Of Colonies Of Bees’ Birds and Jon Mueller’s Metals. Mueller plays drums in both (and in Pele, etc.), but they’re really different projects: Collections a flight of airy resonances and Reichian flutters; Metals more rusted and resonant like K.K. Null or Merzbow in a steel tub. Metals comprises three long tracks: “Trace Essential,” the first, is all drums and percussion clicking into that rising action until dropping into silence.

Jon Mueller – “Trace Essential” (MP3)

Birds consists of four different “Flocks.” This is the third, a gorgeous 11-minute unfurling, that rolls up and down into a few anti-climaxes until its final triumphant climb, which closes with a wisp of a vocal harmony. The only voices in this Outsiders installment.

Collections Of Colonies Of Bees – “Flocks III” (MP3)

I love how the eerie silence of “Trace Essential” shifts into “Flocks III”‘s laps. It’s worth noting that Mueller and Collections are from Milwaukee. Guess I’ve been on some sorta Wisconsin tip (Go Packers). You can find out more about these folks at The Table’s MySpace. Both releases are out 1/22.

Finally, most importantly, I wanted to end this Outsiders by giving public remembrance to a longtime friend, Michael Griffen, who died last week in Bellingham. People may remember him as the violinist in Behead The Prophet or as one half of one of the best noise bands ever, Noggin (who, by the by, had the most excellent song titles to boot). When I think of Michael I consider all that, most definitely: When I was a youngster, a Noggin/Pork Queen split 12″ inspired me in a way almost no album had before it. Then, after I met the dudes behind the Noggin side in the mid ’90s, we became great friends. So, yeah, I think of Noggin’s music and their incomparable live show, but the sounds are so intimately mixed with Michael the friend, someone who engaged me in some of the best conversations in my life and made me a few of the best pots of coffee on his wood stove. We toured together, recorded together, and jammed together (oh, gutted piano and out-of-tune drums), and he never once stopped inspiring me as a musician or a person. The times I spent out at his place in Bellingham, picking blackberries, cooking elaborate meals with friends, wandering the area around Mt. Baker, or just lazing about, were and are really important to me. A proper sonic time line to come in one form or another, but for now, folks who are interested can read more about Michael at this memorial blog. Also, Ben Chasny wrote a great piece at his site (the Noggin/Pork Queen split played a big part for him as well). Never heard Noggin? For shame. Click here. R.I.P., Michael. Much respect.