Justus Köhncke


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Justus Köhncke is the Kompakt producer with the greatest combination of nerve and imagination. On 2002's Was Ist Musik?, he had the nerve to sample Imagination in a song that was sleek, stark synth pop instead of strutting, glowing R&B. On the Kompakt 100 compilation, he provided a remix of a Wolfgang Voigt track called "Hot Love" that added adjusted lyrics from T. Rex's song of the same name; no one is likely to make a more cuddly or squiggly song about a boy being in love with a boy. On Doppelleben, his third solo album and second for Kompakt, he covers Carly Simon for the second time and juggles silly pop songs with clever dance tracks. It's more direct and of a happier demeanor compared to Was Ist Musik?, tipped off by the difference between the photos on the sleeves: on the back of the earlier album, a blurry black-and-white Köhncke glances downward, while Köhncke's piercing blue eyes are featured on the front here. A noir-ish interlude excepted, nothing on this album bears a trace of moodiness. Even his German-language translation of Simon's "Coming Around Again" is more pleasant than dramatic, voiced -- as always -- with the tone of a close friend who is always happy to see you. The bubbly electronic pop songs skip on fluffy white clouds, while two of his smoothest, richest neo-disco productions raise the temperature ever so slightly. (Unfortunately, the phenomenal 2004 A-side "Timecode," a happy medium between the boogie of Metro Area and the techno of Mathew Jonson, is trimmed to four minutes. "Elan," on the other hand, is a 21st century Chic instrumental that's eight minutes in length.) If there's any reason why this album should exist, beyond its end-to-end strengths, it's that it was obviously made by someone in love with life. The planet we're on always needs more of that.

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