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Album Review

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.


Born: 1966 in Giessen, Germany

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Extending his voracious musical appetite for all things avant-garde, pop, and dance into his own output, German producer Justus Köhncke has flirted with the charts (as one third of Whirlpool Productions, who had a hit in their homeland with "From Disco to Disco"), covered Janis Ian and Marvin Hamlisch, and has released material on the Kompakt label. Köhncke began releasing solo material in 1999 with Spiralen der Erinnerung (Spirals of Memory), an album that consisted solely of covers. Two years later,...
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Doppelleben, Justus Köhncke
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