A Smile and a Teardrop: The Endless Funk of Turquoise Summers

Dam-Funk's cousin brings the heat for the spring of '15.
By    April 3, 2015


Turquoise-Summers-2Max Bell’s reffing the Lil B and KD game of 21

Funk never dies. It only fades temporarily. Dam-Funk brought funk back into full view in ’09 and each year the genre’s resurgence has only grown stronger. Last year alone saw several promising additions to the modern funk canon, including Zackey Force Funk’s Money Green Viper and Moniquea’s Yes No Maybe. Still, it makes sense that the best funk release of 2014 came from another one of the Riddick clan, Dam’s cousin, Phillip Riddick AKA Turquoise Summers.

Turquoise Summers’ debut, Shades, was heavily indebted to Dam, but all appropriation was reverent and reworked, not mimetic. Whereas Dam’s material is occasionally aggressive and accelerated (e.g. “Let’s Take Off (Far Away)”), Shades is one locked, laid back groove after another. The singing is sparse but always on point; each track blends seamlessly into the next. You could argue that this points to a lack of sonic diversity, but I’d counter that cohesiveness and sequencing are increasingly becoming a lost art. Shades is above all shade.

Summers’ isn’t as prolific as his cousin, who seemingly has a new b-side or an unmastered/unreleased track up on SoundCloud every day, but he undoubtedly has hard drives full of synth soaked suites. His latest loosie, “Antes Lo Cambiado,” comes from a recently unearthed cassette session. Summers’ didn’t provide the date of said recording, but I imagine it was composed around the time he was working on Shades.

The groove is undeniable, but Summers extracts an emotiveness from his synth that can’t be taught. It’s ingrained, hereditary. This is the kind of song made for Sunday L.A. cruises with family and those that become our family, the synth solo so bright and warm you’ll need Ray Bans and AC no matter how much your windows are tinted. It’s the kind of song that reminds you why funk is eternal.

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