Editors' pick

Dam Funk

Funk/soul
'

Editorial Review

"Funkmosphere."

That's the one (sorta) word you'll hear before being directed to voice mail if Dam-Funk doesn't answer his phone. And nothing else needs to be said, really. It's a perfect way for Dam-Funk (pronounced "Dame"), Los Angeles's "ambassador of boogie funk," to identify himself. The Monday night Funkmosphere parties over which he presided in L.A. became legendary thanks to the rare gems he would unearth and introduce to the deliriously dancing masses. And his debut album, "Toeachizown," serves up two-plus hours of otherworldly delights that are equally retro and futuristic. This is not music for working in a cubicle. It's party music, best experienced in a spacious warehouse, where dancing room is plentiful.

The album was a long time coming for the 38-year-old Damon Riddick, who spent two decades as a keyboard-playing sideman, learning-on-the-fly producer, crate-digging DJ and sought-after remixer.

"All these years I was just staying true to what I did," he says. "You know how a football player might have his head down? . . . Plowing through people, trying to get to the finish line, to the goal."

The goal was "Toeachizown," and that album, along with some well-placed remixes (including a mind-melting take on Animal Collective's "Summertime Clothes"), finds his fan base expanding exponentially. But through it all he cared only about staying committed to one thing: funk.

"When people listen to my stuff, I want them to know what they're going to be getting. Just like a movie. You go to a horror movie -- I'm going to get scared by Wes Craven. It's not going to be a comedy from Wes Craven. I don't want to be that kind of artist. I want to be someone who people can count on."

Which isn't to say that "Toeachizown" is an album that suffers from tunnel vision. "Fantasy" sounds like some lost, classic 1983 new wave B-side, while "Brookside Park" is a sultry slow jam built on gurgling keyboards. The deep grooves that run through every track serve as the common denominator, rendering listeners incapable of staying still. Luckily enough, no one will have to stand still for his D.C. gig this weekend. He'll be in DJ mode, but one shouldn't be surprised if at some point he grabs a microphone and his trusty keytar and begins to serenade the audience. One thing is for sure, though. As people file out of the building just before the sun rises, they will be dripping with sweat. And filled with funk.

--David Malitz, March 2010