Berghain mainstay Len Faki makes a production return on his own Figure Records, this time offering tracks produced alongside HH favourite Markus Suckut. Suckut has been steadily building his reputation for the past couple of years - a reputation that had its foundations laid on the aforementioned label back in 2011. Since then, he's gone from strength to strength whilst operating both as Markus Suckut and #.220.127.116.11.21.20, sticking to a straightforward formula that relies upon pounding, no-nonsense techno music that's expertly produced whilst remaining adequately rough around the edges.
'Skulls EP' sees Suckut and Faki combine to produce four articulate, swinging tracks that are as heavy as they come. What's striking about the release generally is the way both Faki and Suckut's styles compliment so favourably. The former is renowned for a squeaky-clean sound design - something which is disrupted on 'Skulls', but only to a degree.
The first track, 'Skulls 1' is perhaps the sort of effort that you'd expect from Faki. Here, the drums are worked expertly and methodically around the kind of twisted bleeps, creaks and claps that often characterise Faki's sound. Yet on 'Skulls 2', you can sense the creeping influence of Suckut. There still exists in this second offering the swing and movement found in 'Skulls 1', however the overall feel is grittier and even more pounding. This much is most clearly evident in the included dub version, which to my mind is far more basement than it is Berghain.
Skulls 1 - Skulls EP / Len Faki & Markus Suckut [Figure Germany]
What I like most about this collaboration is how Suckut has taken the gleaming, crystal-clear big-room sound of Faki (evident in 'Skulls" 1 and 2) and refined it, honing it down to its core components before sprinkling it with a healthy amount of dirt, distorting the typical flavours you may have come to expect and giving the release a far more underground feel. In 'Skulls 3', we have the best that the EP has to offer. In a way it's strange that Suckut is able to produce these tracks that are so heavily club-orientated, as he admitted himself (under a different guise) in a Hush House interview last year that he's not one for going out and partying. Addtionally, he demonstrated his deftness as a DJ with an exclusive mix - you can check that out here. But moving back to this current release, I'm loathe to utilise the 'Berghain techno' cliche so I'll just go ahead and get it out of the way, but if ever a cliche existed to describe a particular sound, this surely has to be it. Flitting, indecipherable vocals ghost their way through mayday alarm bleeps whilst a lead-weighted kick drum pounds its way throughout.
I must stress here that the sort of big-room killers I'm describing aren't so much of a bad thing, as when executed well their power is unquestionable. Often I have a hesitancy with producers who attempt to adapt their production style to larger crowds, as this somewhat ironically has the tendency to dilute the exact facets of their music that they're attempting to amplify. In the four tracks of 'Skulls', both Faki and Suckut deliver the clearest demonstration in how to straddle this line effectively - creating deadly, dancefloor-honed bombs, edged in Faki's characteristic steel and scattered with Suckut's gravelled sound.
'Skulls' is available at Juno right now.