Like many, I've been warming to Funky, the
[rather weirdly named] new thing on London Pirate Radio stations
like Rinse FM. Perhaps we'll warm
to the name itself after a while; 'funky house', the label which
used to be listed on flyers plastered on lamp posts for over-25s
raves all over the M25 Orbital area, suggested an attempt to
organify house, to give it a certain feng-shui'd, ergonomic ease of
use. Funky, though, is significantly different, and it's
understandable that the second part of the moniker has been
dropped. So 'Funky; will do for now. Of course, 'Grime' sounded
weird to start with, but now perfectly captures the cold-concrete
intensity of the music.
Listening to Rinse FM sets by Fingerprint and Marcus Nasty, the elements of soca and dancehall are pretty subtle, but are such an essential ingredient. It's often moving against the 4/4 beat, generating that push and pull feel which gives it a feeling of democracy, somehow (ie, you can dance to this how you want). Even when it's not there, it's kind of present in its absence, as that off beat feel comes and goes frequently in the DJ sets I checked out. Although it's understated, there's a certain dubiness in there – it comes and goes, but it makes its presence/absence felt - it's kinda welcome. There's also a certain melodic nostalgia there, which was always a part of two-step garage – it was always garage as filtered into a kind of of future pop form.
But all this is thrown into sharp relief by the intriguing tension between the soca feel – and the democracy, ease of access and general good vibes it engenders – and the more sophisticated NY style garage feel, which implies something more sexually selective, more exclusive. This is the key to the music – it gives it an openness to something more global, more open, rather than an exclusive London-centric locus, but there's still something distinctively urban in there. The dancehall feel is the grit in the oyster somehow, the slight friction which prevents it from drifting into frictionless Euro-style consumer house.
So I'm hopeful. Listening to this music, I feel that slight tingle, that warm mix of familiarity with the general feel combined with fresh, open structures. There's something happening here. I'm intrigued.