Tuesday, 15 December 2009

DâM-Funk – Toeachizown [Stones Throw]

This is an epic collection of home made retro G-funk from long time LA musician DâM-Funk who’s been in the game for longer than we know, he may well have only just been picked up as a synth funk superstar of the underground and reached our/my radar via Mary Anne Hobbs showcases and Low End Theory hype or association with long time quality label Stones Throw and even a bit of hype from Animal Collective: but he was also one of the original session musicians for Dre-era G-funk workouts from the likes of Warren G and Nate Dogg to name but a few, which is a hell of a pedigree and one which you can hear ring through Toeachizown. This is a massive; mostly solo collection made on a big range of drum machines/drums, synths new and old and a bit of studio trickery. There is a really live freeform feel to it. There is that smooth machine funk sound that sounds so old it’s new, there is a retro futurism at work. Toeachizown is the laid back jus’ chillin’ cousin of Hudson Mohawke’s glitchy ADD funk or a loose sun drenched long lost hip-hop soul brother of Kraftwerk.

It’s the drum machine boogie that often draws me in and the opener is no exception, ‘Let’s Take Off (Far Away)’ starts with crunchy funk drums before really getting its groove on with deep synths, spiralling psychedelic melodies and treated vocoder vocals. The tracks start off sounding a little bit kitsch or overly retro at times but as soon as the grooves set in you really get swept up in it all and it becomes something way more exciting than an exercise in retro funk. The soulful twinkling melodies on ‘Mirrors’ are another highlight they bring a laid back sunshine vibe to even the coldest winter evening. The low-down blazed out funk of, ‘Brookside Park’ is such a killer track that I find myself keep coming back to time and time again, you can loose yourself in the spaced out sounds and lazy drum beats. ‘The Sky Is Ours’ comes on like a long lost 80s version of what Kanye West tried to achieve on 808s & Heartbreaks minus the auto-tune, that’s swapped for DâM-Funk’s sweet laid back subtle tones. For some reason ‘Searchin’ 4 Funk’s Future’ and ‘Fantasy’ make me think of old computer games, more specifically Out Run on the Saga Master System with it’s rolling beachscapes, palm trees and Ferrari where you just keep rolling on and on through sun blazing scene after scene. The first disc finishes on the melancholic funk of ‘Keep Looking 2 The Sky’, a hopeful synth ballad, where sweeping soundscapes meet crunchy groove beautifuly.

It’s more of the same on the second disc, ‘Toeachizown (D-f’s Theme)’ taking it in a smooth direction before the silky funk of ’10 West’ is so laid back and mesmerising that, the way the strings play off the dirty funk bass lines and electronic drums is a joy to hear. There is so much to digest in this two-disc set that sometimes parts wash over you, but on repeated listens you always find new interesting passages to get your ears around. Another gem has to be the three parter ‘A)Flying V Ride/B)Burn Straight Through U/C)Candy Dancin’ Ft. Mark De Clive-Lowe’ which seams to be spread over two or so tracks. It just flows into one big sweeping funk odyssey full of soul and boogie. The bumpin’ ‘Hood Past Intact’ is easily one of the highlights; the hard grooves and addictive melodies will make you move. ‘I Gots 2 Be Done Wit’ U’ drops in a similar vain, the skweee/8-bit funk really has space to breath on this one a similar feet is pulled of on the sublime ‘Spacecapdes’ too. The skippy drum patterns on closer ‘In Flight’ offset the lounge keys to make for a funky lilting listen to round off the collection.

There has been a trend this year for washed out lo-fi nostalgia, especially in indie circles with the whole hauntological pop or glo-fi/chill out thing (which kind of just reminds me of ministry of sound compilations played at the wrong speed with reverb and usually a boy singing something inane just out of earshot) but also in dance with italo being cool again again again… or people like Omar-S and Kyle Hall dropping some quality throwback house music, FaltyDL sounding like the ghost of NY and garage or Mordant Music being MM... Bar a few exceptions, like the ones noted above and maybe a few more its something I’ve not really been able to get on board with and its left swathes of indie blogs and websites left to rot on my rss feed until another trend kicks in. But DâM-Funk’s nostalgic funk has really got me addicted. Toeachizown might be over long for some but it just goes to show how prolific the man is, its an epic collection that you can just sink into a feel the loose laid back funk fly around you or make you want to get up and swagger.

BlueFunk District presents Dâm Funk from eckelwood on Vimeo.

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