Techno innovator Len Faki is to release ‘Fusion’, an adventurous debut long player on his own Figure label on 14th July.
The title is a nod to that fact – every strand of Faki’s musical DNA has been drawn upon, intertwined, mixed and melted together to form a new whole. It’s a process that happened on a deeply subliminal level and soon became a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a brilliantly broad yet coherent sonic statement. The magnificent double album that results is the culmination of a life’s work that brings his vast array of tastes to the surface. They have been plumbed from deep inside his heart and within newfound creative reserves. They reach all the way back to his earliest days when his first electronic music experiences opened up a new world and filled him with a sense of endless possibility.
Faki has been one of techno’s most revered artists ever since he first emerged. He has very much helped to define the underground as a DJ, producer, label boss and resident of Berlin’s Berghain since its opening night in 2004. His approach to the genre has always been to distill it to its core – to build subtle tension through the perfect placement of hi-hats, drums and bass. As both a DJ and producer he has mastered the art of combing contrasts – alluringly dark and headstrong grooves with dreamy and escapist melodies that take you somewhere else. He has proved this while building up a vast and vital discography, mostly on his own well-respected Figure and Podium labels, but also on Ostugt Ton and with his landmark Berghain 03 mix CD.
And now comes Fusion, by far his boldest and most complete artistic statement yet. Although Faki had wanted to work on a debut album for as long as he can remember, life on the road never really allowed it. But with the pandemic came the luxury of time – time for him to dig endlessly deep, disorientate himself, update his production skills and refresh his sound on a whole new level. “I was happy with where I was as a DJ, but as a producer, in my heart, I was maybe bored, tired and trapped,” he admits. “I wanted to surprise and challenge myself. I was finally able to explore new possibilities, develop new techniques and really bring my different inspirations and influences to the surface in the here and now.”
Though known around the world as a techno DJ, Faki has always had a love of many other sounds. Over the years, they have been subtly hinted at – he’s released occasional ambient tracks and as a DJ he’s played annual house-leaning sets in Panoramabar. He also has a long-standing love of the chill-out room where he would often spend the whole night as a youthful raver in his native Stuttgart, lost in space and sound.
Getting so immersed in the creative process meant Faki became free from the constraints of expectation that have been placed on him as a techno DJ. It allowed him to dig into the different facets of the Faki sound which emerged in parallel during the production process and now get presented across two discs. Both feature all the hallmarks of the signature Faki style but with extra layers of depth and detail.
Disc 1 is a contemporary take on the techno that has defined his life from the early 90s up to the present day. Disc 2 cuts loose and explores ambient, broken beat, rhythmically powerful house music that breaks out of techno’s linear nature and plenty more sounds in between that he has always been so passionate about.
The result is that Fusion represents all 360 degrees of Len Faki, even though it was never his intention to write an album this way. “It was a real surprise,” he says. “I just followed the process and went where my heart took me. All these different sounds bubbled up and made perfect sense so it was totally natural to present them all together on Fusion.”
Faki is known as a peak-time DJ but the power of his sets is drawn up from the depths. His driving basslines set the tone and lock in the dance floor while his textured loops, wispy pads or subtle vocals allow you the space to dream up top. That duality is captured on Disc 1 of Fusion. From the neon trails and hefty kicks of opener ‘Tor 8’ to the eerie chords on ‘Gamma’ via the cosmic colours of ‘Space Cowboys,’ these are techno tracks that lock in both body and mind. Elsewhere, ‘Astra’ kicks like a mule while tight synth patterns bring hints of subtle euphoria, and ‘Friedrichshain Funk’ has punchy, physical drums yet beautifully delicate pads that get you in a trance.
Disc 2 is still the sound of Len Faki but from a different perspective. A subtle shift in tempo and rhythm gives rise to tracks like ‘Hymn (In The Name Of Fantasy)’ which has you floating amongst the clouds and real melodic beauty. There are mind-melting deep techno rollers like ‘Don’t Be Stupid Day’ and odes to bumping house music like ‘It’s Time (to Move Your Body)’ that will bring a smile to any dance floor. The beautiful melancholy of ‘Halide’ Parts 1 and 2 captures the sadness Faki was feeling after the passing of his mother. Writing them helped him process his grief and eventually get back to finishing off this most coherent album.
Fusion is a complete artistic statement. It takes the Faki sound into an all-new realm and proves him to be as curious and driven now as he ever has been.