Marcel Fengler - Fokus (3 stars)

Marcel Fengler - Fokus

The techno producer's first full album is refreshingly organic but wholly experimental

(Ostgut Ton)

After establishing himself as a more-than-capable techno DJ and producer on a string of several 12”s, Germany-based Marcel Fengler is finally getting around to releasing his first full album, on the excellent Ostgut Ton, a label owned by Berlin's Berghain club and managed by Nick Höppner. Fokus sees him further push the boundaries of modern techno and the results are, at times, refreshingly organic but wholly experimental.

Opener ‘Breakthrough’ is a proper introductory track, setting a dark and slightly unnerving atmosphere – a feeling of vast emptiness – which continues throughout most of the album. However, towards the end of the track, soft angelic vocals creep in, as if trying to cleanse the song of its darkness.

‘Mayria’, with its glitchy drum track, wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie. With interesting yet haunting vocals, it also introduces Fengler’s penchant for merging the industrial with the organic to create a weird hybrid creature. Alas, it does lack in substance and variation a little, whereas ‘The Stampede’ delivers an array of intricate beats and melodies fused together in technologic matrimony.

Sleeping giant ‘Trespass’ maintains Fengler’s industrial approach but with an almost soothing delivery while ‘Distant Episode’ brings back this organic vibe with a synth-induced brightness and warmth fighting against that underlying chilling bass. Things get a little 65 Days of Static-esque on ‘King of Psi’ with its crackling drums set against a twinkling landscape. It’s very strategically textured but almost runs the risk of becoming too cluttered. On the contrary, ‘Sky Pushing’ is far more stripped back, at least for Fengler, with just a simple hissing beat supporting more of that mysterious twinkling – continuing that unsettling atmosphere through discordant notes.

Boasting a flashy electro opening, ‘High Falls’ instantly grabs the attention. That sci-fi vibe creeps back in again, giving a very otherworldly feeling whilst closer ‘Liquid Torso’ does the opposite, ending the album with earthy ambient tones, once again revealing Fengler’s more complacent side. Individually, all eleven tracks on Fokus show Fengler to be a very versatile composer and producer. Collectively, they create a record which explores and challenges the more experimental side of contemporary electronica.

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