DâM-FunK is something like the Karl Lagerfeld of synthesised funk, or at least that’s what can be deduced if we check the sleeve of “Adolescent Funk”, a compilation of tunes recorded between 1988 and 1992, presented with a great photo from that era. Over the years, Damon G. Roddick –that’s how people know Dam in his native Pasadena–, has built an image that’s identical to the iconoclasts of the genre. His XL glasses seem to keep him in formaldehyde, as if he were the Christ of modern funk. A good part of this Lagerfeld-isation is also in his sound, a stroke of genius with a happy end, as DâM-FunK’s plastic boogie funk finally took off a couple of years ago and found a wider audience.
That “Adolescent Funk” is released right now is nothing short of typical of the charity work Peanut Butter Wolf has been doing for years. Apparently it was the Stones Throw head honcho himself who recovered these 14 gems recorded on cassette from the DâM-FunK cellars (or from his old Olivetti computer, who knows). We should keep in mind that PBW’s excellent nose has been responsible for discovering, and housing under the same roof, people like Mayer Hawthorne, the as yet underestimated Koushik, James Pants and Aloe Blacc, as well as seldom acknowledged weirdos like the more than worthy Baron Zen. Although Wolf’s initial plan was to release a 7”, the new –or rather, old– DâM-FunK material has so much more to give, which is why the project has become “Adolescent Funk”, a record on which each song has its reason for being. The album sounds more analogue and old than it’s unbeatable predecessor, 2009’s “Toechizown”, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking the essence of DâM-FunK. In fact, it’s the irrefutable proof that the man hasn’t changed in all the years that separate his self from the adolescent figure who made these old tunes. The difference is that “Adolescent Funk” has an incontestable old sound that we hadn’t heard before and will appeal to those who love the gems of good eighties funk.
The ambassador of boogie funk, as he is known in Los Angeles and the rest of the west coast, is releasing, as the album’s introducing single, a tribute to adolescent hormonal explosion. “I Like Your Big Azz (Girl)” could be interpreted as the worthy substitute of his own “Mirrors” when it comes to presenting the record to society, and it transmits (albeit not formally) a force that reaches hit levels (a hit according to Steve Arrington). “Sexy Lady” works as the perfect appendix, not only because of the flirty nature of the track but also because of the infectious boogie. Another key moment is “It's My Life!”, a top dancefloor tune that could have come off of Prince’s “Purple Rain”. “The Telephone Call”, in it’s turn, would be the best indicator of the artist’s evolution, adding a nice battery of primitive synthesisers to the funk that to this day shapes that sonic and bubbling futurism. Meanwhile, tracks like “I Love Live” slightly touch on the rave era, “When I'm With You I Think of Her” highlights the most luminous side of the disco era, and tunes like “Do You Feel What I Feel”, “I Don't Love You”, “Attitude” and “Raindrops” show that what DâM-FunK was trying to do at the end of the eighties was getting into the same bag as people like Aurra or Slave. The album finishes with the very exciting “I Appreciate My Life”, which might well be the second best cut.
As a whole, “Adolescent Funk” is a teen record of incredible maturity, especially if we keep in mind that it has been released two decades later than it should have been, taking advantage of the rekindled love for analogue. Although with records like this one, it’s not strange that it should happen. Come on Peanut, keep digging please.