There are plenty of artists out there using samples in effective, if predictable, ways, but there are only a handful of artists who I consider sampling innovators. DJ Shadow, Daedelus, and Prefuse 73 spring to mind. Count Akufen in with them. It's not simply a matter of his source (who else samples exclusively from the FM?), or his precision (there are plenty of microsamplers out there) - it's how he puts them together to form a gestalt.
The result is much less fractured than one would imagine. I will go as far as to say that the sliced up samples have flow - real musical flow. Achieving a sense of measure to measure, beat to beat flow is difficult when you take into account the variety of sources, their variance in amplitude, not to mention the zipper noise that is the bane of anyone who works with many tiny samples. When you listen, you almost have to remind yourself that you're hearing many small segments of second-hand music, as opposed to something expressly recorded for this particular album. I don't know how he does it.
Above all, "My Way" is very listenable. His technique may be experimental, but the music enjoyable, danceable, and fun. It's also great for just listening. That's really my criterion for any sort of electronic music with a 4/4 bass drum foundation - is it something I can sit down and listen to with interest? Akufen delivers on this point.
I can partially understand why some are driven to call this music "house." The BPM fits squarely in the house range and it's 4/4 bass drum can give the impression of house music, but that's really just the shell containing Akufen's excellent and unique music. It also serves to stabilize his experimentalism. Often times when artists use innovative production techniques, the music can suffer if the whole thing begins to become more about the technique than the music itself. The palatable "house" container on these tracks help to make the music more inviting to a larger audience.
While I might not recommend it as an essential purchase for casual listeners, those who enjoy innovative and experimental electronic music should check out Akufen.
There's something I really like about this album, but I'm not sure if I love it overall. The cut-up sample aesthetic is far from revolutionary (it first struck me as a housed-up Prefuse73), but Akufen does it in a unique style. The album builds momentum nicely, starting washy and cool then picking up in the middle with some serious bangers, and finally concluding with the more passive title track (I don't count Herbert's remix as the closing track. By the way, am I the only one who finds this "remix" really weak and grating?). Much of the album manages to sound more festive and fun than you'd expect, rather than overtly experimental. As others have mentioned, some of the tracks are backed by very traditional house beats and basslines, which to an extent seems like a bit of a cop-out. You can't get much more of a stereotypical house backing than on "Deck the House." But it sounds really cool, so I can't complain. The mixtures of wildly varying timbres give the tracks a very vivid, colorful feel. I have to wonder how much method there is to the madness of juxtaposition in these tracks, though, and a few employ the kind of meaningless vocal sample I hear in a lot of this more experimental house (like, one incoherent syllable looped hundreds of times). Only Autechre can pull this trick off properly, so it bugs me after a while. But if I'm in the right mood, this record is a lot of fun.
This is indeed an incredible album, make no mistake. Akufen (Marc Leclair) has a very distinctive aesthetic, and approach to piecing together coherent, even danceable tracks culled from snippets and snapshots of noise, voices, and other odd sounds. It seems though, that this line of musical development (and arguably one of the pivotal steps in "glitch" music) is one that could easily tire of itself. Even the more intriguing pieces (in my view) as Skidoos, Deck the House, and Late Night Munchies are structured by a much more traditional bassline element, and the samples hover somewhere between decorative texture and cut-n-paste melody. From this angle, the album is self -contained as a set of musical ideas. Hopefully, Akufen will prove me wrong by taking the glitch aesthetic to the next stage.
This album is unreal. Sampling FM-Radio, a la Quebec, there is definetly an element of art to it all, while still remaining funky. The way the samples are pieced together, and amalgamated together with groovy bass lines hook you instantly. Should be a corner stone album for anyone, whether you like tech-house or not. Simply phenomenal