It’s the mid-2260s, and funk is back, baby! The revival has taken the planet by storm, so the collective decision was made, by popular vote, to ceaselessly pipe the lauded sounds onto the streets. You wave to your robot brethren as you strut down the sidewalk in rhythmic stride with the music, same as everybody else. Is the tempo steadily speeding up? Everything is moving so fast now, and your surroundings are becoming a blur. All you can do is listen . . .
Funk is certainly alive and thriving, and it’s refreshing to see that artists continue to explore the capabilities on the fringes of the genre. Universes is the newest full-length from Houston-born producer and vocalist Seven Davis Jr., a groove mastermind in a galaxy all his own. Davis has stated that he’s sick of playing gigs where people opt to remain still rather than dance, so this record removes that option entirely.
There’s something so abnormally fun about this album. It’s stuffed to the brim with funk-tinged house anthems primed for an oddball crowd. Some of the foundational rhythms sound wonky upon first listen, but the gradual integration of each eccentric component around Davis’ superb bass lines and soulfully sultry vocals results in some hip-shakers for the ages. I’d like to see anyone try to stand still while this is on.
Although Davis possesses a clear forte in the feet-moving category, he may show his most vivid innovations when he slows everything down. Intro “Imagination” is a woozy, soulful stumble; “Fighters” is the closest thing I’ve heard to gospel dub; “Afterlife” is a disorienting march through electronic experimentalism. Seven Davis Jr. does it all, and he does it well. If you’re seeking otherworldly, funk-tinged house, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)