Fleck E.S.C. – Rough Silk

3 out of 5

Label: Central Processing Unit

Produced by: Franck Collin

Listened to as a comparison piece to Fleck E.S.C.’s – Franck Collin’s – last CPU release, Discrete Opinion, there’s some key elements at work that put us in familiar territory, which is good thing: Rough Silk maintains the balance between playful funk and mysterious undertones that made that 2018 release tonally unique. This backs up Collin’s repertoire of synths, which never sound derivative, applying a type of flowing futurism sound to modern electro crispness. However, in a – while appreciated – attempt to, perhaps, change the formula up a bit, Silk’s sound is ultimately much more pared down than that of Opinion’s, opting to let a core beat / rhythm play out with dashes of affectations along the way. Because that core is often very fun, it’s not a bad deal, but over the course of 5 or 6 minutes, a couple of these tracks start to feel repetitive, and primarily the opener, which unfortunately means that Franck then has to work harder to get our attentions back.

Followup Hat in the Cat is an excellent step towards this, harkening back to Discrete’s more lush, momentum-fueled funk. And followup Faking Sweet matters where it’s important, with a killer oddball funky beat delivered via ebbing and flowing synths during its first half or so, and an equally impressive breakdown ending; these bookends help to buffer with middle, where it also sags from some repetition.

Closer Digger Play is another direction entirely, slightly more ambient and chill. It’s a relatively short track, at three minutes, and so doesn’t quite have the time for Franck to put his own stamp on the sound, but it’d be something interesting to hear explored more in the future.