funkommunity – chequered thoughts
Starting out somewhere in the 90′s, Nu Funk was an almost strictly European/North American thing. Scoring a just a couple of hits in the charts and garnering a niche audience, it didn’t really take off before merging with Hip Hop and Big Beat into a more mainstream style. And so the continental fella’s thought they got it made, mashing up what we thought was funk with our electronica into feelgood dance-floor music. In the meanwhile the focus became more on the ‘dance’ than on the ‘funk’, leaving the latter area open for full-fledged invasion by this island on the other side of the globe: New Zealand.
While the continentals were sweating behind their samplers and computers, trying their best to sound a little off-grid to get that funk in, the music scene in the land of the long white cloud was developing their own sound steadily. And come mid-2000 it started it’s conquest to bring back the funk in Nu Funk, which can be heard throughout contemporary releases. Acts like Opensouls and Fat Freddy’s Drop heavily incorporated funky elements into their releases, and being a small country artists quickly started to collaborate and cross-breed. After 2010 passed the sound had crystallized into a fresh breed of Nu Funk artists (often collaborating with their Australian counterparts), sprouting acts like Electric Wire Hustle, Ladi6, Tyra Hammond and Funkommunity.
With their 2012 debut album “Chequered Thoughts”, the duo called Funkommunity heavily focuses on the Funk, but contrary to their American counterparts (Aloe Blacc, Raphael Saadiq, etc) did not forget the Nu part of the genre. In stead of incorporating the more European/American Hip Hop and Big Beat, they followed their native co-creators like Julien Dyne and EWH and added a touch of (Future) Beat to their style.
Through this fusion of old and new styles they’ve ascertained “Chequered Thoughts” to be one of the most versatile and loveliest albums that came out in the genre in years. Tracks like Pass It On, What You Give and Liquifaction offer a spot-on revamped version of funk and jazz in the days of yore, showcasing real instrumentalism (while definitely being arranged digitally). The Light, Northwest & 4th, Make It That Way and Hold On To Me gently push the listener forward into the futuristic field with more usage of synths and drumcomputer sounds, while retaining that funky and jazzy feel. If one might wonder if it’s a good idea to push this sound even further, Dandillion, Never Fading, Sorceress, Yeah and Start Again prove that the element of funk is more than enough to switch between styles. Shuffling minimal rhythms, staccato basses and atmospheric backdrops are key in these tracks.
While the compositions are Isaac Aesili’s doing, it’s the borderless voice of Rachel Fraser that tops it all off. She’s straight funky on the funk, poppy on the crossover, and edgy or melancholic on the beats. No matter what track off the album she appears on, it always simply fits to a tee.
You can get the album as digital (EUR 9.50), vinyl or CD (EUR 14) format through the Funkommunity Bandcamp page. On stage they perform as a full band, so be sure to keep an eye on their Facebook page!