Son Raw’s bangin’ for the funk of it.
Massive week for Grime singles. First, the almighty Butterz empire returns for their first release in nearly a year, teaming up with Kapsize Records for a collaborative jam between Swindle and Joker, AKA 040. It’s a match made in heaven, assuming heaven is place where P-Funk grooves collide with video game memories , as both producers’ styles go together like peanut butter and jelly. A-Side Let it Be Known is an absolutely hulking beast, replete with sour-synth motif, vocoder hook and spaced out synthesizer solo. Imagine Bernie Worrell beamed a couple of decades into the future and you’re almost there. Notably, the sound design is little less abrasive than either producer’s previous work, opening the door to potential fans who might have been scared off by residual traces of Dubstep wobble.
B-side Minors makes no such concessions, dropping with a riff you’ll either love or hate depending on your views on MDMA use, Tron, and Poptimism. Like fellow maximalists Rustie and HudMo, both Joker and Swindle super-size their beats and haven’t heard a ear worm they didn’t like, but these guys stand out for their love of classic funk and ability to pull off Jazz flutes and G-funk synths while keeping it current.
On the flip side, Mumdance delivers an entirely different concept of computer music on his long awaited Springtime single for Unknown to the Unknown. Floating around on dub for a couple of years now, the track re-imagines Wiley’s classic Eskimo style as not the product of cracked software, but instead as the result of tortured hardware synths. On paper, that’s a distinction that should only matter to gear heads but in practice, it completely alters the sound, twisting it into a wheezy, analog number not quite of the eighties, nor aughts. It’s hard to describe without using the word bonkers – while 040’s single could conceivably appeal to fans of classical musicianship, Mumdance is utterly ruthless with his melodies, folding and tearing it into avant-garde shapes. It’s Peak on the B-side is only slightly more conventional, eschewing melody altogether for a skippy hollowed out Drum track that’s pure UK and that will inevitably find its way into more than a few of my sets in the near future.
What’s worth mentioning about both releases is how they draw inspiration from the funk of years past without falling victim to pastiche. Whether Swindle and Joker’s love for P-Funk or Mumdance using Detroit-Techno approved gear, there’s a definite reverence to the past at play but by molding their inspirations to contemporary shapes, both escape the Retromania that’s plagued a lot of funk related music in recent years. It’s 2014 – I’ll take George Clinton and Kraftwerk stuck in a Tardis over an elevator, given the choice.