Funk, Soul, R&B, & Disco I like on eMusic

I’ve done a few hip-hop lists but long doubted I’d ever buy enough of these urban styles most associated with the 1970s to make an album list.  Serious fans will probably find this evidence of how little there is on eMu, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’d much rather listen to these rather quirky, international titles than the classics.  Disco still sucks, but the kind below is different.

In approximate order of how much I like them, noting the style carefully to disambiguate from the four in the title…  

1. “You Come With The Rain” - Karnaval Blues (2019).  A long 99-cent EP of electronic R&B may be just what your collection has been missing.  Lyrical themes are in the usual territory for the style, but for some reason when drenched in synths it doesn’t bother me.  Is “Please Go Slowly” what’s called a “slow jam”?  I’m pretty clueless.

2. “Capim Cidreira” - Rael (2019).  Latin funk and R&B get a tropicalia treatment on this inexplicably 99-cent album that throws everything into a blender and makes something very healthy for your ears.  Understanding Portuguese would obviously help understand intense lyrics and lyricism, but it’s hardly necessary to appreciate what’s going on here.  The production level is equivalent to pop music, and the guy’s got  both a good flow and singing voice.  His back catalog appears to be similarly bargain-priced on the excellent Laboratorio Fantasma label.

3. “Chansons Laotiennes” - Sothy (2017).  I assume both versions of these two songs are actually from the 1970s or early 1980s.  They have the male/female duet going for them, and the overall style mixes the SE Asian and spacey rock funk sublimely.  The first track reminds me of a psychedelic trek through the jungle in which tigers and other wild animals met along the way are less interested in eating us than joining the journey.  The second song takes a much poppier angle with a recognizable chord progression.  The “Shelter’s Edit” lengthens the first and shortens the second.  Both are gold.  99 cents.

4.  “Cosmos” - Fitness Forever (2014).  On one of the few remaining great record labels on eMusic, Elefante, this is an irrepressible album of Italian bliss, full of near orchestral accompaniment and a brighter sound than nearly any band I can name.  It’s more than enough to overlook my dislike of disco, and I wish all disco from the 70s had evolved into something like this.  To those who can’t do the same, I say chuuf chuuf chuuf!

5. “Funk Music from Indonesia” - V/A (2019).  I figure exoticism more than outweighs cheesiness and dated instruments.  Despite their age, these songs are a real breath of fresh air, and I like them better when they’re more soothing and psychedelic than funky, as with “Lembur Kuring.”  I wonder if they were all originally on 45rpm vinyl singles, as almost all the artists make exactly two appearances.

6. “Natural Selections” - Sampology (2016).  This Australian producer uses live kalimba and other acoustic, African instruments over his electronics, sounding a little cheesy on the opener, but the three vocal tracks are what put it in here  with distinction.  House music often struggles to balance the groove with any semblance of lyrical sophistication, so tracks like the sensual but complex “Be There” and “Different Star” are remarkable for squaring that circle.  The whole 99-cent EP quite masterfully blends world music, electronica, and R&B.

7. “Cosmotion” - Pehoz (2019).  French R&B has every reason to be especially smooth, even if mostly sung in English here.  Electronic beats thump a little harder than expected on this 99-cent album, more prominently than any of the basslines.  While leaning heavily electronic rather than acoustic, like most of the newer albums on this list, at no point do the instrumentals like the title track (a daring choice) feel like they’re just collections of loops and beats awaiting an MC for completion; they are their own entities.  Of the vocal tracks, I’d be hard-pressed to name which should be a single, and it’s a credit to the producer to slip a rap track like “Equal” in the middle of the album like no big deal.  My ear for electronic R&B is less refined than for rock, but it’s impressive that nothing here turns me off.  In other words, there might not be anything transcendental b/c there’s no striving for pop superstardom, and that’s quite refreshing.

8. “Turkish Moog Edits” - Arsivplak (2018). I’ve bought a couple albums and still don’t really understand if this is an artist/band or a record label first, as it seems to pass as both.  Judge the album by its second track, with a long folk sample laid over disco cliches.  The whole album is instrumental, thankfully.  The ending is awfully abrupt.

9. “L’Inizizione” - Le Streghe (197?).  A NSFW cover, opening and closing w/ big names of the occult, that thankfully inimitable 1970s disco sound.  How are today’s teenyboppers not flocking to this album in droves?  I never thought I’d pay real money for disco, but this one’s pretty special.  It breaks out into both classical music and playground taunts.  I think the Italian-sung “Cosa Mi Succedera” is a cover of a famous song I barely recognize.  Kind of like a “hooked on classics” medley with lyrics, overall.  

10. “Clay” - Ella Haber (2019). Fairly conventional compared to the others, this is just a nice R&B EP for 99 cents.  Her lyrics are relatable and sung identically to the most famous R&B singers of the 21st century, minus the soaring (and overwrought) choruses.  She’s got a lot of supporters, so maybe this is the only one on the list most folks will like?


On other lists:  “Recreate” - Tawiah (2018).  “Dandelion Seeds” - Kratos Himself. 2014. “Toda a Gente Pode Ser Tudo” - NBC feat. General Santos (2016). “DANIELLE, au revoir” - Rimagna (2017). “План побега (Plan Pobega/Escape Plan)“ - Обе Две (Obe Dve/Both Two) (2018). “First Born” - Tomalone (2017). “Máselfie” - Selvaag (2019). “Put Your Hands Together” - Skeewiff (2018). “A Pudding oO CD” - Pudding oO (2015).

What record labels on eMusic come closest to dedicating themselves to these styles?  Given the general hollowing out of the 20th-century other than non-English-speaking locales, the pickings are rather slim.  Past Due has the most authentic titles actually from the 1970s.  Sound-Exhibitions-Records has one of the largest selections.  

I find these interesting:  Bastard Jazz; Eglo; Luup; Imagines; Lyskestrekk; Intimate Venue(s); Rufftone; Sempre Musica; Soul Has No Tempo; Apron; Mashpotato; Rad Summer; Sooner Record’s; Zagora; Mano a Mano; Too Lost LLC; THE FAMOUS COMPANY; Imminent; Mz Inc; Nagel Heyer; Buenritmo; Cada Instante; 

In the style(s) but not particularly recommended:  Berlin Bass Collective; Bombstrikes; Plaizir Muzic; Record Kicks; Skyline; CAPYAC River Adventures; Riviere; Trepertre Srl; zyx/discomagic; Frenzy Sounds; Jennifer Abraham; La Cave Musik;  S.D.Y.P. the Movement, LLC; Swish MGMT/France; Equipe; MBC Srl; Svetlana Novojilova Shulguina;  

Rather than reposting repeatedly, here’s my lists of what’s left on eMusic: 

& by my evaluation

& by genre 


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