Funker Vogt

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Funker Vogt – Revivor (2003)

Funker Vogt - RevivorThis is a reasonable attempt at a remix album for ‘Survivor’ – the first Funker Vogt album to spawn a full-length offshoot (although ‘t’ certainly came close). The original album was a solid effort, but really needed some original musical concepts and a bit more variety to really bring it to life. A decent and varied selection of remixing artists have been brought in from various futurepop, electro-industrial and techno acts, and for once none of them fall into the self-indulgent trap of killing off the original song in an effort to how clever they are (though a couple get dangerously close).

The album opens with straightforward mixes of ‘Final Thrill’ and ‘History’ by Christian Michael and Icon of Coil respectively, both aimed firmly at club playlists. As the album progresses, we get a vicious breakbeat mix of ‘Faster Life’ from XPQ-21 (a bit over-the-top, but a brave effort!), a mix of ‘Stolen Thoughts’ by Haujobb that gets extreme on the vocal effects and a surprisingly restrained mix of ‘Red Queen’ by T.O.Y. The limited edition also offers four extra fan mixes of ‘Final Thrill’ in MP3 format (an interesting curiosity if nothing else). Generally, this remix album is no better or worse than the album that spawned it, but at least that doesn’t mean it’s the cash-in exploitation other remix discs have been known to be.

Funker Vogt – t (2000)

Funker Vogt - t (Cover)‘t’ is a double-disc offshoot from ‘Maschine Zeit’, containing a series of remixes plus ‘Subspace’ and three other unreleased tracks. It’s puzzling why they spread it across two discs when all the tracks would have fit onto one, but I guess they have their reasons, beyond confusing the listener as to whether this thing counts as a double EP or an album proper, of course. ‘Subspace’ is the best of the new tracks, a tribute to online first-person shooter games. It’s on the poppier side of the Vogt spectrum, but it’s enjoyable enough. The remainder of the new tracks follow a similar musical path, but measured alongside Funker Vogt’s album tracks of the time, they’re still nothing really special.

The majority of the remixes are in-house reworks by Gerrit Thomas. He offers four ‘Maschinen’ mixes, representing a harder industrial sound, plus three ‘Traum’ mixes, which go for a dancier, synth-pop concept. All these mixes are fairly linear, not really advancing far enough from the originals. There are three ‘external’ mixes at the very end of the set. Das Ich’s version of ‘The Last’ is disappointingly pedestrian by their standards, though Beborn Beton’s breakbeat remix of ‘Under Deck’ is at least distinctive, whilst L’Âme Immortelle’s ‘Bunkerromnatik’ downtempo, piano-and-string based mix of ‘Black-Market Dealers’ is probably the strongest mix on offer here, the only one that does anything radical with the original whilst keeping the original song intact. It’s a patchy collection, all in all, best left to those fanatic Funkers who seem to lap up everything this band produces.

Funker Vogt – Navigator (2005)

Funker Vogt - Navigator (Cover)I’m not sure if it shows, but each subsequent Funker Vogt album is harder to review than the last, as it’s harder and harder to find fresh things to say. When you think about it, they’ve come a long way since the days of ‘Thanks For Nothing’, but the changes are incremental, and have become smaller and smaller with each passing album. Truth is, ‘Navigator’ is still a perfectly enjoyable run though the usual mix of stompy beats, bleepy bits and war-inspired imagery. But then again, so was ‘Survivor’. And ‘Maschine Zeit’. All these album are enjoyable for what they are, but do you really need to listen to all of them?

A few token changes have taken place – live guitarist Thomas Kroll has been replaced by Frank Schweigert, who makes a fractionally more significant contribution to the band’s recordings with lyrics on one song and guitar on three of them, with his bridge on ‘No Tommorow’ easily the most Funker-unlike thing on here. With the exception of that and actually getting to hear Jens Kastell ‘sing’ on ‘Für Dich’ (the obligatory ‘doom ballad’), the rest is a straight run through the cliches, including a follow-up to ‘Tragic Hero’ in ‘Fallen Hero’ (sigh) and a title track which just repeats one verse over and over, yet that single verse catchy enough to be the album’s highlight.

Funker Vogt – Survivor (2002)

Funker Vogt - Survivor (Cover)Having reached a creative zenith of sorts on ‘Maschine Zeit’, it’s at this stage that Funker Vogt are left with the question ‘where to now’? ‘Survivor’ is a firm indication that Funker boys either don’t know or (more likely) don’t care. Instead they just get on with doing what they do best, producing their stompy-yet-slightly-melodic mid-tempo electro-industrial. Jens Kastell drones and grinds his way through the twelve songs on offer, whilst Gerrit Thomas throws in all the obligatory bleeps and bloops that you’d expect. As ever, the majority of the album’s songs revolve around a ‘war’ theme, with the remainder dealing with other ills of modern society. Continue reading

Funker Vogt – Maschine Zeit (2000)

Funker Vogt - Maschine Zeit (Cover)‘Maschine Zeit’ continues where ‘Execution Tracks’ left off in terms of refining the Funker Vogt sound into something palatable to those who never really got into their harsher, more severe early works. It still thumps hard enough to be classed as industrial something-or-other, but most of the album’s tracks carry a tune of sorts, Jens Kastell’s vocals are less of a rasp and more of a drone, and there’s plenty of ear-catching bleepy bits. It’s still not exactly an ‘original’ sound, but at least now the Vogt concept sounds as attractive as it’s ever going to be. Continue reading

Funker Vogt – Execution Tracks (1998)

Funker Vogt - Execution Tracks (Cover)Execution Tracks is the third Funker Vogt album, and marks the point where the they begin to step back slightly from the relentless torrent of industrial beats and start weaving a few more melodic, some would say ‘pop’ influences into their sound. This is most apparent on the album’s centrepiece ‘Tragic Hero’, whose distinctive fanfare-like synth lead and infectious refrain combine to form the first great Funker Vogt anthem. As usual, the bulk of the album’s songs keep within this theme of war and destruction – be it ‘Civil War’, ‘Pure War’ (aka ‘Nuclear War’) or the ‘Fortunes Of War’.

There are a few thematic variations – ‘The International Killer’ deals with issues such as AIDS, pollution and the greenhouse effect, whilst ‘Shaven’ is the gratuitously ‘sexual’ track, featuring some of the least subtle lyrics I’ve ever encountered (‘Shaven Cunts Fuck Much More Horny’ indeed……). The album as a whole is generally more listenable as a complete work than previous efforts, mainly thanks to the added melodic elements and a cleaner overall sound, but even here it begins to get rather monotonous towards its later stages – and that ‘Shaven’ song is a definite low. At least this time, however, there’s plenty of fun to be had along the way.

Funker Vogt – We Came To Kill (1997)

Funker Vogt - We Came To Kill (Cover)The second Funker Vogt album is a slight improvement on the first – the production is slightly cleaner (but still rather murky compared with other scene bands of the time), the individual sequences more detailed, there’s a greater variety in terms of sound (including some sampled guitars in places), the lyrics seem more purposeful and a great proportion of the songs are in some way memorable. At the same time, however, it’s still the same dancefloor-oriented industrial dance music that they’ve been producing since hooking up their first synthesiser.

It’s hard to pick a highlight as most of the songs follow the same basic concept, although ‘Take Care!’ is probably the album’s ‘defining’ track, singing of a resignation towards environmental catastrophe, a sentiment all too easily understood in these self-centred times. Other personal favourites include ‘Father’, ‘Killing Fields’ and ‘Funker Vogt 2nd Unit’, but such is the homogeneity of the Funker sound that you could pick any of the others. And that is the album’s (and some might say the band’s) key weakness – there’s simply not enough ideas to last the length of an album.

Funker Vogt – Thanks For Nothing (1996)

Funker Vogt - Thanks For Nothing (Cover)Funker Vogt’s debut album offers a club-friendly EBM/electro-industrial sound, not unlike some of the more danceable LeætherStrip tracks. It’s essentially a mix of gravelly vocals, punchy four-beats, throbbing synths and lots of war-related metaphor (the band name is derived from a Army Radio Op friend of keyboard player/programmer Gerrit Thomas). The basic concept is at least sound, but the execution lets them down. The albums tone is unremittingly harsh, the melodic and textural elements buried too easily in never-ending assaults of distorted rhythms.

The result is an album which sounds at least vaguely promising for a few tracks, with ‘A New Beginning’ and ‘Black Hole’ amongst the strongest songs on offer here, but also an album whose interest level fades which each passing track. The rather muddy production quality doesn’t help, as it only makes it harder to differentiate between the different songs.

There’s a couple of deviations from this relentless stomp – ‘Animals’ alternates doomy keyboard passages with high-speed electronic head-rushes, whilst the slower ‘Remember Childhood’ is a rare touching moment on an album which is otherwise numbing in its cold, bleak outlook.

Black Celebration 2004 – Day 1

The biggest Flag Promotions event so far, and also one of the most controversial. It all started several months prior to this event, when Flag gave everyone the chance to vote for 3 bands they wanted to appear. Deathboy won the ballot, but weren’t booked, as ‘they’d played last year’. Yes, opening up what had to had been the weakest Black Celebration line-up to date. So weak that I didn’t even bother to do (Icon of Coil AGAIN?). Continue reading

M’era Luna 2004 – Day 2

We didn’t make it for the early bands on Day 2, but still arrived in time to see Funker Vogt. Anyone who’s seen Funker in the past will know that their shows are a chance to enjoy some cheesy, catchy German EBM without worrying about the details, and that was exactly what happened today. Jens messed up the words to ‘Gunman’, but the crowd took it in good humour, and their set could be widely regarded a success. Continue reading