The whole sharing bed and songs thing isn't anything new, in fact it rarely happens that two artists who are romantically involved don't at some point decide to work together in the studio as well. Whether that leads to any good music is a whole other story. Sascha Funke, who never shies away from collaborating, with others anyway (remember his work with Nina Kraviz), is now releasing a record on Kompakt with his wife, Julienne Dessagne. The result turned out to be a nice surprise.
Dessagne and Funke make it clear from the start that neither is collaborating with the other one's work, but rather it’s a proper joint venture. Hence the moniker, Saschienne, with a more than obvious nod to French culture and, why not, Gainsbourg and his work with Jane Birkin, whose shadow is all over this record, as both a tribute and an influence. Just listen to “Aile Mut”, sung, almost whispered in French by Dessagne.
The music on “Unknown” is sober and elegant pop, with a touch of techno. Because “Unknown” is above all a record with class, from the first to the last song, even the electronic ones (“Unknown”, slightly dark). There's a bit of subtle, fragile minimal in it, too, like the instrumental track “La Somne”, and more pop ones, such as “Caché”. Dessagne and Funke say the album “was born out of spontaneity. No order, no rules.” They're not lying. Far from choosing the road most travelled, they both explore the possibilities of the mix of Julienne's classical training and Sascha's electronic beats. The result is an album on which classicism and modernity go hand in hand, weaving a complex network that could fall apart in a second, if it came into the wrong hands.
But there's another interpretation possible of “Unknown”, one applicable to any love story, with happy moments (“Aile Mut”, “Neu Acht”), low points (“November”) and even the sadness that can follow an orgasm, in many cultures known as “a little death” (is it a coincidence that the most nostalgic song on the album is called “La Somme”, which is French for both a nap and the sum, an instrumental track to boot?).
Beware with “Unknown”, because it's one of those records that sneak up on you from behind, stealthily, then end up stealing all the other, more obvious hitters' thunder.