Release Date: Mar 5, 2013
Record label: Ostgut Ton
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Anyone releasing his first solo album nearly two decades into his career is going to feel a certain burden of expectation. Even more so if—as is the case with New York-born, Berlin-based artist Dave Sumner, AKA Function—you're arguably renowned less as a solo producer than as a member of Sandwell District, and thus had a hand in the enigmatic collective's 2011 album Feed-Forward, one of the best techno LPs of recent years. Sandwell District's iconic stature has only grown since they put their label on indefinite hiatus with an oblique communique at the end of 2011 which, with its talk of "experiments" and "vinyl artifacts," could have been penned by Jeff Mills himself, whom Sumner credits as a major influence after seeing him DJ at Limelight in New York back in the early '90s.
Sandwell District's David Sumner, in an intriguing alliance, has teamed up with Berlin's Ostgut Ton for the release of his first solo album. Sumner, alongside Karl O'Connor (Regis) and Juan Mendez (Silent Servant), has played an important role in the resurgence of traditional underground values, slipping past the spotlight and letting his music do most of the talking. Function has spent the last decade earning the prestige of industry purists for his classic approach to DJing and producing.
For nine years, the shadowy record label and international collective Sandwell District was a primary force in shaping underground techno. Ostensibly run by the unholy quadrumvirate of Regis, Silent Servant, Female and David Sumner, aka Function – though they claimed that it was a self-governing body, which made it sound a bit like Jack Merridew's clan in Lord of the Flies – Sandwell's release schedule was sparse but impeccable, consisting mostly of a series of 12"s and a couple of samplers from its main actors and a few others. Perhaps the collective's influence grew too great for its members' liking (certainly, a cursory glance at today's UK techno scene throws up any number of lazy copyists) or maybe they just wanted to get out while the going was good.