Soviet Funk, Volume 1
During the 1960s and 1970s funk music spread throughout the planet. The funny thing is most Americans didn’t even realize this until the 90s or later. Over the past couple decades, slowly but surely more and more rare funk gems have been unearthed from all corners of globe; Africa, China, Latin America, and now Russia.
This collection of SOVIET FUNK was all recorded by Pavel Sysoyev in Abakan, the capital city of Khakassia between 1971 and 1976. Sysoyev was an employee of the USSR State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcast (state controlled media). He ran a recording studio intended to create content solely for the government media entity. However, Sysoyev frequently brought in his friends and ran late night recording sessions when no one else was around.
In spite of the loosened restrictions on art and music during the 70s, most Soviet citizens had very limited access to essential American funk records. Sysoyev acquired a small collection of U.S. R&B and Jazz albums in ‘68 from a friend, but that was about it for him and his friends. Yet somehow, this small group of classically trained musicians was able to forge a funky sound of their own. Rooted much deeper in the jazz quartet tradition than the R&B styling of James Brown and The Meters, they tapped into a way of playing jazz with a relentless groove that we endearingly refer to as funk.
Secret Stash Records was contacted by Sysoyev himself in mid 2009. In a matter of weeks a deal was reached granting the label rights to release these funky rarities. Hundreds of hours have been spent digging through stacks of dusty old master tapes to find the best of the best. Soviet Funk Vol I is just a small sampling of the vast catalog of recordings produced by Pavel Sysoyev and his friends, and is just a little glimpse of things to come (more volumes). Listen closely and from time to time you will find elements of Russian classical music in the precision execution of oddly metered unison parts, complex poly-rhythms, and the use of time signatures other than 4/4 (so commonly found in most American funk).