Friday, September 2, 2011

Into the Planisphere: The Tale of Freak Funk

You cannot call yourself a true Monrovian if you have not heard the wild, infectious rhythms of the genre taking our beautiful city by storm: freak funk. For several years now, our young ne'er-do-wells have been feeding rock and roll to the dog to make room for an exciting, imaginative dessert. Freak funk began with The Star-Town Troubadours, one of the most famous bands to flourish in the Monrovia musical underground. Their approach was simple: take the rhythm section of funk, which almost dares listeners not to flex their groove muscles, and add to it the eccentric experimentation of psychedelia. The effect is something that excites both band and audience, which in turn creates more excitement. As uncomplicated as this combination may seem, there could be no denying its success. The Star-Town Troubadours had a top-selling album with their 2002 debut, Our Sunday Clothes. Soon enough, other artists were taking on the approach as well as adding their own personal flair. A small psych-pop outfit called Little Yogurt had found only moderate success until they teamed up with a rebellious young man from Finland who had a dual passion for James Brown and Sun Ra. After their legendary two-month "pure magic nonstop jam," Herb Bombgarden and the Little Yogurts (pictured) took the stage in the summer of 2009 to deliver one of the most dynamic concerts in Monrovia history, reinterpreting funk standards in their own hyperactive image. Sharing the stage that night were fellow legends Time Machine Modulus, who have since rejected being labeled as a freak funk band. Yet they need not be so defensive. There are currently hundreds of garage bands keeping the genre alive, some of whom, like The Wild Freak-Outs, Atomic Giants, and Boog, have worked tirelessly to expand on their forefathers' truly revolutionary visions. While this may just be a fad about to fade, it's an amazing ride for all who dare to explore the outer reaches of music.

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