More than ten years have passed since Sandrino Tittel and Frank Beckers first got together in the latter’s studio – a musical pairing that happened by chance, and the project Frankey & Sandrino was born. A partnership that continued in an unpredictable and spontaneous manner, creating music together when time and fate would allow, a naturally creative process that flowed, never forced, and the rest, as they say, is history. Enter 2020, and it would be wrong to say that the worldwide incident didn’t have a monumental impact on the trajectory of Frank’s and Sandrino’s career, but not for the reasons you might expect. After quickly adjusting to the reality of life without the adrenaline-fuelled weekends of dancefloors and DJ booths and coming to terms with the very real implications of pandemic life, it was pure instinct that brought the pair directly back into their shared comfort zone of the studio. Out of the darkness of this uncertainty came an absolute clarity for the pair that amongst the turmoil, their musical fate lay entirely intertwined. Before, they had always considered themselves as their own individual entities, working together on a common project. By taking away their ability to create, release and perform together, it had taken away the very lifeline that fed the creativity on which they thrived. They realized Frankey & Sandrino is more than just working together; it’s the emotional connection that makes the difference. And they rediscovered: Together, we are strong. Together, we are one.
“We started to question everything, but not in a doubtful way. More like how we define ourselves going forward not as Frank and Sandrino, but as a shared vision that we could really pour our hearts and souls into”, tells Sandrino. “And we noticed magic happened every time we have been together.”
“It seems crazy, but we never actually thought about how we presented ourselves, we always just improvised, and honestly, we are probably the least business-focussed artists you can find”, Frankey laughs. “We always knew how we wanted to be considered musically but never translated that into the other parts of our careers. A bit like how we have run our label Sum Over Histories until now – unplanned, not really strategic, but an honest reflection of us as artists and people, and the music we want to represent.” It was at this time that, through mutual friends, Sandrino met the graphic designer Aljoscha Höhborn. “We didn’t really know what we were working towards, but we knew that we wanted something that could identify us and our revived vision as a pair. We really connected with Aljoscha, talked about the art we personally admire, from the Bauhaus style of the 20s up to Future Retro designs of the 70s and 80s, the organic shapes of Matisse and other influences. We did not want to copy anything; we wanted to create visuals that were colourful and full of joy, that reflect how we were feeling, even in this dark time”, explains Sandrino of the new artwork direction that is also emblazoned on the vinyl sleeve of the pairs latest musical offering. It quickly becomes apparent how significant the multi-coloured “&” ampersand motif is; a bold visual statement of a new-found togetherness that suggests the sum of its parts is greater than any individualism. For Sandrino Tittel and Frank Beckers, this is a statement that perhaps the rest of the world knew before they did: Frankey & Sandrino is about two individuals, but together. An unspoken, unwritten bond manifested in music, in colour, in a joy for life and a desire to create.
&Hope EP – a deep exploration of the pair’s sound and synergy.
The first result of this re-avowed commitment to creativity is the “&Hope EP”, four tracks that, unlike their collective title would suggest, are not intended to be a proclamation of better times to come for the world, nor a rallying cry for a fanbase of lockdown-weary dancefloor addicts in the prolonged throws of withdrawal, but more an introspective look at what the next chapter holds, a statement of intent that will define Frankey & Sandrino as a bonded entity.
It’s no surprise then that this is the first music the pair have released on their own Sum Over Histories imprint since 2017, finally feeling ready to present this part of themselves to the world. Musically and symbolically, it defines a new chapter for the pair, free of expectations and preconceived notions of what the duo stand for.
Unlike the name may suggest, opening track Hope43 offers a twisted, inquisitive take on existence rather than a beacon of light; a steady, brooding piece of electronica littered with industrial-sounding percussive stabs and a repetitive, unresolved three-note motif, whose tone warps and morphs throughout the track to add an extra-terrestrial sense of tension and eeriness, equally frenetic and cohesive at the same time.
If Hope43 was the pair’s acid-fueled venture into existentialism, then Green Leaf suggests that fulfilment can be found in a formless fog of utopia; a fuzzy atmosphere of beat-less synths creating an analogue warmth, with Frankey’s bass guitar wanderings adding a feeling more reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon than the typical stylings of this dancefloor duo.
But perhaps all is not as it seems; the fog clears quickly as we are introduced to the sound of Rana’s chugging bassline. An Arabian-tinged synth line pierces through the deliberate and unwavering beat while clashing symbols, and the whirr and bleep of malfunctioning robotics distract us from the gradual crescendo. As the track builds and drops, playing with our emotions, we suddenly find ourselves in a surreal cacophony of chiptune FX and dancefloor euphoria, a digital purgatory where both heaven and hell await us. The track is unassuming yet technically brilliant, clearly coming from a place of deep comfort and confidence. ‘TGA‘, the final track on the EP, features vocals from La Öberg, who previously contributed to Frankey & Sandrino’s popular track ‘Ways of the Sun‘. The pair describe this track as happy yet melancholic, a slow-building groove that steps away from big drops, instead choosing to unfurl and crescendo slowly and with care. The result is a further exploration of the depth of house music, with powerful vocals conjuring images of darkness, light, loss and hope.
Frankey & Sandrino: &Hope EP
A1. Hope 43
A2. Green Leaf
B4. TGA feat. Ia Öberg
Release: 21 May 2021
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